Loyola University Maryland

Sociology Department

Alpha Program

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The Alpha Program matches the University’s most experienced faculty and scholars with first-year students in small, seminar-style classes. Alpha asks you to challenge yourself academically, encourages you to travel into realms of thought you have previously only imagined, provides occasions to match wits with some of the Loyola faculty’s best minds, and offers a chance to meet other first-year students who share the same passion for learning and knowledge.

The sociology faculty strongly supports the University’s Alpha program by our involvement in teaching and advising Alpha students from the inception of the program. Enrolling in an Alpha course in sociology will teach you how to think and live sociologically by engaging you in a seminar-style class as an adult, independent, critical observer, reader, thinker, and worker. It will also take you out of campus to acquaint you with what Baltimore has to offer.

Alpha Program Students at the Festival Alpha Program Students at the Zoo
Dr. Ryu and SC102 Alpha at the Hampton Festival Fall 2009 Dr. Ryu and SC102 Alpha at the Baltimore Zoo Fall 2009

Sociology Alpha Course Offerings

Sociology - SC101D
Self & Society: The Individual in the Community

In this class we consider the classroom as community and the community as classroom. The focus is on social interaction, especially in terms of how this is affected by race/ethnicity, social class, and gender. Part of the course learning will result from participating in community service, with the goal of developing in students the capacity to be “women and men for others” with a strong sense of social justice. The course is constructed around readings that will help students understand the life situations of those with whom they interact and the social structural factors which produce and perpetuate these circumstances.

Instructor – Dr. Barbara Vann
Barbara Vann, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of sociology, received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Arizona in 1987 and came to Loyola, where she has been ever since. Her areas of expertise include the intersection of gender, race, and class; sexuality; identity; and disability. She directs Loyola’s Summer Study Abroad Program in Prague, where she is involved in research on Czech identity post-Communism and on intellectual disability. She also teaches sociology at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women.

Sociology - SC102D
Societies & Institutions

This Alpha seminar is designed to entice students to see societies in systematic comparison to one another. This big-picture sociology is global in scope and covers the time span from the beginning of human social life to the present day.

Students will trace the evolution of human societies and institutions and observe how human capacity to use tools and symbols has propelled this evolutionary process forward. Also, because of the central importance of work to individuals, institutions, and societies, the course will highlight the evolution of work and working conditions through the ages to today’s new, global, high-tech economies. From completing the mandatory projects, students will gain personal insights from reflective dialogues with a person of an earlier generation. Students will be invited to begin employing the sociological imagination, or the capacity to see how macro-historical conditions intersect with people’s individual biographies.

Instructor - Dr. Jai Ryu
Jai Ryu, Ph.D., focuses his teaching and research on theory, demography, and race/ethnic relations. He has been teaching this Alpha course since fall 2003 and considers it to be his most favored teaching assignment. Published works include a book, Residential Segregation of Blacks in Metropolitan America, more than 20 articles in scholarly journals and book chapters, and more than 30 articles in newspapers/magazines. He has also given numerous presentations at conventions. Ryu's native tongue is Korean. He had five years of schooling in German, and is capable of reading and writing more than 3,000 Chinese characters. Ryu enjoys classical music, swimming, and meditation.

For more information about the Alpha Program, please visit First Year Programs website.