Advising News, April 2016: Closing Windows and Wide-Open Opportunities

Dear Social Science Students,
Writing this advising newsletter to you on the last weekend of Spring Break, I’m watching the birds fly to the feeder at my kitchen window and pick out sunflower seeds.  It’s so exciting to see old “friends” come back who were gone from the feeder.  The chickadees were always there, even when the temperatures dropped below zero, but yellow finches, nuthatches and cardinals tell me Spring is here. As time passes at UMA, keep in mind that new opportunities are opening up while some windows are about to close! Keep the news items below in mind as you think about the future.
As always, I invite you to get in touch with me if you have any questions or need help making decisions about your path to graduation with a Social Science major.  My phone number is 207-621-3190 and I welcome your call.  You can also send me an e-mail message at  Finally, you’re welcome to drop by unannounced to my office hours, which are Wednesdays from 12-2 PM in Augusta Jewett Hall 122 and Thursdays 8-9 AM and 12-2 PM at University College Rockland.

Look Out! These Social Science Courses are Almost Full
We’re about three weeks in to registration season, and some courses are nearly full.  If you haven’t registered yet and the following courses are on your must-take list, don’t wait until summer.  Jjump on the opportunity now before it’s too late:
SSC 320: Research Methods in Social Sciences — this course has 28 registrants out of 30 slots — only 2 spots left!  This course does fill every year, it’s only offered in the fall, and it’s a requirement for all Social Science majors.  Jump in and register, especially if you think next year will be your last!
SOC 316: Criminology — this course has 23 registrants out of 30 slots — only 7 spots left.  This is a popular course because it pertains to a very practical topic, especially for the United States (did you know the U.S. has the highest rate of people in prison out of 222 countries around the world?  Source: online).
SSC 100: Introduction to Social Science — this course has 16 registrants out of 20 slots — only 4 spots left!  Like SSC 320, this course is a requirement for Social Science majors, and it’s a good one to take relatively early because the course tackles the challenge of showing how the wide variety of social science disciplines all matter put together.

Hidden Social Science Gems
Our social science major has some pretty typical courses — human development, social problems — that you might expect.  We also offer some pretty unusual courses that you might not find elsewhere.  Consider:
SSC 360: Qualitative Methods
It’s fair to say that in the social sciences, quantitative methods based in numerical representation of counts and categories is dominant.  But there is a a strong second tradition of qualitative research in the social sciences.  Assistant Professor Kati Corlew has this to say about the course she’ll be teaching in the fall: “Qualitative methods are a great way to explore a topic in great detail. Someone checking boxes in a survey may be thinking, ‘yes, but…’ or ‘not really, but close enough’ and we would never know it. Qualitative methods often have space for participants to push back and say their piece. Interviews, for example, allow people to tell their stories. But wait, how can gathering stories be ‘science?’ In this course, we’ll learn about the theories and requirements for creating scientifically sound, valid, and elucidating qualitative research. We’ll learn about the varieties, the exceptions, and the possibilities of qualitative research. And we’ll get to have fun — trying out qualitative research interviewing and observation in your own personal research topics. I can’t wait for this fall!
SOC 315: Deviance
Why be normal?  The very concept of “normal” and its counterpart, “deviant,” lie at the heart of this course taught by Associate Professor Lorien Lake-Corral.  If you’d like to take a walk on the wild side and examine why some things we do cross the border between acceptable and unacceptable, this is the course for you.
PSY 489: The Psychology of Evil and Humor
When you think “clowns,” do you see something funny, sad, … or downright creepy?  Have you ever noticed the stories we tell about one another, humor and evil sometimes are placed against one another, and are sometimes allies?  What are humor and evil for?  As Professor Ken Elliott explains, “This course is offered for students having a serious interest in understanding both malevolent behavior and humor as coping skills. Students will study these with an emphasis primarily on individual and secondarily on collective behavior.

Last Reminder: Apply for Graduation!
If you are ready to graduate this Spring or Summer, the deadline to apply for graduation was April 1st.  That was this past Friday!  If you have missed the deadline, it might not be too late; I urge you to call the UMA advising office first thing Monday morning (they open at 8 AM) to check in and see what’s possible.  The UMA advising office’s number is 207-621-3149.
I hope this information is helpful.  As always, please get in touch if you have any questions about registration and the road to graduation.  Enjoy the Spring!

Best Regards,
James Cook
UMA Assistant Professor of Social Science

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