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The Sociology of Terrorism

The course focuses on health and social services provided by terrorist organizations. Although these types of services are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about terrorism, they are an important component of many terrorist organizations’ agendas, one of the ways they can maintain popular support, build legitimacy, and develop experience in governance. The principal goal of this course is to study this strategy across multiple terrorist organizations, in each case mapping the types of health and social services that these organizations provide to better understand terrorist organizations’ governance. 

The Sociology of the Privatization of Security

In this course, we will examine the privatization of security from a sociological perspective. It will largely focus on Private Military/Security Companies (PMSCs), their roles, attributes, workforces, and spread. Topics include the evolution of private security; PMSCs’ goals and responsibilities; issues related to the breakdown of the Weberian model of the state, private security and inequality; institutionalism and global privatization of security; contractors’ demographics, and questions of accountability and legitimacy.

Internship Course: Organizational theory and nonprofit health organizations

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are essential part in contemporary health delivery and primary care. In Austin alone there are over 100 different NGOs that provide variety of health-related services, as contractors or primary health providers. Combining theories from the Sociology of Organizations and internship in local health oriented nongovernmental organization this course offers an in-depth outlook to this industry. The course is designed to bring together theory and experience, allowing the students to examine organizational theories in real life situations. We will learn who those NGOs are? What type of services do they provide? What their bureaucracy looks like? What is their organizational culture? What are their organizational conflicts? And other questions. We begin with defining the role of NGOs in the health industry and the type of services they offer while engaging with Sociological scholarship of health and NGOs. Later we continue with organizational theories that will help us understand how those NGOs operate. Next, for each week we focus on a different topic in organizational theory and discuss it in light of the students’ internship experience. The course design is two meeting a week and 7 hours of internship in the assigned organization. The goal is for the class activity and the internship will complement one another and allow the students to use their experience as well as the theories discussed in class to gain better understanding of the complexities of the nonprofit health sector. 

NGOs, Humanitarian Aid, and Health

In a globalized world domestic events are often have regional or even global implications. An Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone is not a local event but a global threat, a refugee crisis can easily spill over to other states, destabilizing their economy and political system. One of the international community’s major instruments in dealing with these sort of events is humanitarian aid—the material and logistic assistance to people in need. This course examines the health aspects of humanitarian aid with particular emphasis on the part of nongovernmental organization (NGOs) in the process. By focusing on NGOs and their work the course is designed to inform students about salient issues within humanitarian aid such as the interplay between aid and politics, conflict-related crises, and the effectiveness of development assistance.

War & Health

In this course, we explore the impact of war on the health and well-being of populations. Throughout, we distinguish direct effects of violence on physical and mental trauma, injuries, and death, from indirect effects that disrupt the economic and social systems through which healthcare is delivered. Our main emphasis is on indirect effects since these have more significant and long-lasting effects. In the short-term, both combatants and civilians are at risk of morbidity and mortality associated with short-term loss of food, clean water, shelter, social support, or healthcare infrastructure. More long term, societies at war both lose important infrastructure (schools, institutions, systems), and fail to make investments in future infrastructure because of the diversion of resources for weaponry and war. Likewise, many individuals experience other physical and psychological injuries associated with trauma and conflict induced ecological damage. Conflict-associated structural violence, or the systematic ways in which social structures harm or disadvantage individuals, also affects human health by creating institutional barriers to achieving maximal health status.

Comparative Religion, Politics and Culture

The course Comparative Religion, Politics and Culture compares and contrasts three different countries’ political systems; each represents a different culture and religion using the historical comparative method of analysis. In this course we will examine the complex interplay between politics, local religion, and culture following the similarities and dissimilarities among the three case studies of: U.S., Iran and Israel. The course addresses fundamental political and societal issues on the role of the state, religion, culture, and the distribution of power. The three case studies illustrate different approaches and solutions for political questions and the dispersal of power between the secular state and religious institutions. Each political system serves as a window to the local culture, ethos, history, and identity, and presenting idiosyncratic political, religious, and cultural model. 

NGOs in Israel/Northern Ireland: A comparison of aid in conflict

The recent decades’ Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) sector’s proliferation brought with it dramatic changes on a global level. By entering into new settings and sub-fields the NGO sector has become an influential actor with vast resources and presence on the ground. Showing great flexibility not only in expansion, but also with its ability to fill the gap between the state and the market, the NGO sector has been challenging and altering the way we understand today's health, development, education, democratization, and human rights. In this course we address the impact of this proliferation by looking at a crucial case study- conflict areas. NGOs’ ability to influence and bring a change under the most unfavorable conditions operates as an indication of this sector’s effect and role in other fields.

Introduction to the Study of Society

This course will introduce you to what it means to think about the world like a sociologist. The main goal of this course is to instill you with a “sociological imagination”, which allows us to understand how larger social processes influence and are influenced by individual lives. Perhaps the coolest part of sociology is its capability to address all facets of social life: from how people get a job, to what we see depicted in films; from whom we befriend and marry, to how the global economy functions. Accordingly, we will cover many different topics in a concentrated period of time. The course organization converses with the four leading voices in sociological research: Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and George Simmel. The first week explains what sociology is and how do we study it while addressing basic concepts related to society and culture.The second week follows Durkheim’s work, focusing on social structure and how it is maintained. The third week will begin with Marx’s notions of inequality and expand to other forms of inequality.  The fourth week will examine the concept of power, starting with Weber and continuing to political participation and collective action. During the fifth week we will build on Simmel’s notion of social ties to examine human interaction. The course format will feature lectures, discussions, and other in-class activities. By the end of this course, students will be able to summarize, compare, and critique the predominant theories and paradigms of sociology, applying them to current social issues and patterns of everyday life.

Religion and Global Change

In this class we will examine the relations between religion and social change. We will begin by introducing general theories from the sociology of religion and sociology in general that will guide us along the course. The theories of Weber, Durkheim, Marx and others will assist us in understanding the role of religion in the social life, its impacts over individuals and groups, and its relations to social change. We will continue with general global demographic trends in religion and will compare data with theory. This part builds mostly on databases and global surveys such as the Pew Research Center. This will take us to the next part of the course where we will focus on a few case studies that will illustrate the data and theory on the state level. We will conclude the course with an outlook on the contemporary global development.

Sociological Theory

This course will focus on an outline of social theory from the enlightenment to the early twentieth century with particular emphasis on the social theories of Marx, Durkheim and Weber.  Concentrating on the emergence of sociological theory provides a foundation for understanding its many varieties.  Our emphasis will be on the contemporary relevance of the ideas and debates and the aim of the final essay requirement of the course is to allow students to use social theory to address contemporary issues. The Course will be organized on Blackboard, which will contain information on assignments, the class calendar, lecture notes and Course Documents.


This course is designed to give you a broad understanding of the field of criminology. Most of the course will entail a close examination of forms of criminal behavior, especially forms of violent crime and property crime. The last portion of the course concentrates on the U.S. criminal justice system.

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