2016-2017 Academic Year, Fall semester:




This course is designed as an introductory course in qualitative research methods, it provides a general overview of the ways sociologists collect qualitative information about social phenomena, focusing on how to collect and analyze data that are reliable and applicable to our research questions.  We will begin by constructing a research question that will drive our work for the entire semester. In this course, you will learn three of the main ways that qualitative data are used in sociological research:  analysis of written material, participant observation, and open ended semi-structured interviews.

Spring Semester:



Since most environmental issues are caused by humans and their societies, this course helps students answer the question:  how do we study environmental problems? It introduces students to the social scientific toolbox that is available for doing research on environmental issues.  During the course of the semester, students will learn how to ask their own research questions and then will conduct individual studies to answer their questions.   Readings will presents case studies of environmental protest, climate politics (at the local and transnational levels), and urban stewardship.

NOT OFFERED IN 2016-2017:




This course is designed as an introductory course in social research methods, it provides a general overview of the ways sociologists collect information about social phenomena, focusing on how to collect data that are reliable and applicable to our research questions.  In this course, you will learn how to construct a testable hypothesis, design a small-scale research project that tests it, and write up the findings of your work.  Throughout the course, we will develop a critical eye to the structure of social science research: identifying the object of inquiry, noting what are the independent and dependent variables being tested; analyzing how the variables are being operationalized; and evaluating the quality of the research conducted. The course includes a required discussion section where you review the readings and lecture materials.  Discussion section will also review how to analyze the data that you have collected during your research projects, and will focus on showing students how to write-up their findings. The course does not assume any background in research methods or statistics—everything you need to complete the assignments will be taught in class.




This course is an introduction to the sociology of the environment and technology, more commonly known as environmental sociology. The course is divided into two sections. The first will provide a broad initial overview of the field, presenting some of the major theoretical themes. The second will examine some key current themes in environmental sociology: environmental attitudes; environmental movements; environmental justice; globalization; global climate change; garbage and food. The coursework and the readings are intended to be helpful to two main groups of students: (1) those in the Sociology department who are interested in looking at the society/environment relationship and would like exposure to the literature; and (2) those in other departments who have an interest in environmental issues.



This course is an introduction to the research on activism, focusing particularly on the global and transnational aspects of activism and social movements. The course begins with an overview of the theoretical literature on activism and social movements.  Then, we will focus on case studies of particular movements that have a global component and have been the focus of recent sociological inquiry:  the globalization movement, Arab Spring, and the climate/climate justice movement. 




This course is designed as the second in the qualitative methods sequence of courses. Students are expected to have a general knowledge of qualitative methods, having already learned how to collect and analyze qualitative data using interview and ethnographic methods. Students will spend the semester collecting and analyzing qualitative data and must begin the course with a formulated research question, a plan for data collection and sampling. Each student will spend the first two weeks preparing a proposal for submission to the University of Maryland’s Institutional Review Board to gain Human Subjects approval to collect data. Then, students will spend a month collecting data, a month analyzing data using QSR NVivo, which will be taught as part of the coursework, and writing up the findings. The end product of the course will be an empirical paper based on the data collected and analyzed throughout the semester. Students may not take this course as an audit and they must get approval to register for this course. 





This course is designed as a writing practicum to prepare advanced graduate students to publish papers in peer-reviewed social science journals.  Since publishing in a peer-reviewed publication is a prerequisite for most jobs in sociology today, graduate students must publish before they finish their graduate work or be seriously limited in their job options.  This course will provide a space for graduate students to workshop their papers and go through a simulated editorial review process before submitting their papers to journals. All students must enter the course with a paper that is ready to be revised and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. During the semester, you will be required to go through two rounds of revisions on the paper and write letters to the editor responding to reviews provided by other members of the class. In addition, all students will be required to serve as reviewers for the other members of the class—reading papers and writing reviews for their peers.


department of sociology ▪ university of maryland ▪ drfisher@umd.edu