Sociology 461                                   Dr. Hardt

Urban Sociology/Human Ecology                   MSU-Billings

MWF 12:50-1:50                                  Spring, 2010


Office: LA 812

Office phone: 657-2991

Office hours: MWF 11:45-12:45

              TTH 12:15-1:15 and by appointment



web page:



Text: Hutter, Mark.  2007.  Experiencing Cities.  Allyn and Bacon.


The objective of the course is to provide an in-depth understanding of cities--how and why do they exist, how do they develop, what impacts do they have on individuals and on social relationships?  On the broadest level we will be concerned with the nature of society as it becomes a metropolitan/suburban environment.


     The first part of the course will explore the historical evolution of human settlements and the rise of urban society.  Also examined are structural issues related to the morphology and management of cities, and land use patterns.  During the second part of the course social psychological issues related to cities will be explored.  A particular concern is with community—how it is maintained, how it is eroded, and how we might better foster a sense of community in Billings.  


The format of the class is a combination of lecture, reading assignments, exams, and a term paper.  With the term paper you will select an issue pertaining to community.  You will explore how this issue may relate to Billings, how it has been dealt with in other cities, and how these examples may be applicable to Billings.   Papers will be written in either an ASA or APA format. We will periodically venture into the city and surrounding areas to examine social patterns, and to apply principles discussed in the classroom.  Some of these excursions will be for informational purposes, others will include formal assignments that will be submitted and included in the final grading.  It is imperative for you to understand that lecture means student participation.  Failure to participate in class discussion will mean a loss of as much as 25 percent of the total points toward your final grade.



It is important for you to note that reading assignments do not necessarily follow in chronological order.  It is imperative that you follow the attached outline to know which selections are relevant.  It is expected that readings will be completed by the assigned dates, so that you are acquainted with the topics brought up in class, and that you can participate in class discussions.  Changes in the following outline may be made, as time constraints necessitate.  You will receive advanced notice of at least one week if schedule changes affect the timing of exams.  Exams are not comprehensive, and are essay in format.  The emphasis in grading is on knowledge (identification of relevant material) and comprehension (how well the understanding of this material conveyed).


The exams and the term paper are worth 100 points each, with grades translated into a numerical score (A= 90 to 100 points, B=80 to 89 points, et cetera).  External assignments will be of variable points.


Course outline and reading schedule:




14     Introduction to the course.

16     Why study cities?  Class discussion.

19     Martin Luther King Day.  Class cancelled.

21-30  A chicken or the egg history of cities.

       Macionis & Parrillo, chs. 1 & 2. Padilla, 1-3.





2-6    American urban history.  Macionis & Parrillo, Ch. 3 & 4.

       Padilla, 6.

9-11   Unguided tour of Billings.

13     Discussion. 

16     Presidents Day.  Class cancelled.

18-25  Structural theories of the city.  Macionis & Parrillo, Ch. 4.

       Padilla, 15.

27     Exam.




2-6    SPRING BREAK.  Class cancelled.

9-11   Edge Cities and Urban Sprawl.  Macionis & Parrillo, Ch. 5.

       Padilla, 20, 21.

13-16  Political Economy.  Macionis & Parrillo, Ch. 4.

       Padilla, 19.

18     A guided tour of Billings: Applying the Models.

20     Discussion.

23-27  Growth, change, and urban location. 

30     The social system of cities.




1     The social system of cities, continued.

6-8   Suburbs and Suburbanization.  Macionis & Parrillo, Ch. 8.  

8     Exam.

10    Mini-break.  Class cancelled.

13    What is community?  Informal class discussion.

15-17 The Construction of Community.  Macionis & Parrillo, Chs. 6 & 7.

      Padilla, 9, 10, 13, & 14.

20-22 The Urban Experience.  Fischer: All.

24    University Day.  Class cancelled.

27    Final Exam. 2:00-3:50.


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