Richard Williams, Notre Dame Sociology

Sociology 43402

Population Dynamics

Richard Williams, Instructor

Spring 2014

Course summary

Demography, the science of population, is concerned with virtually everything that influences, or can be influenced by, population size, distribution, processes, structure, or characteristics. This course pays particular attention to the causes and consequences of population change. Changes in fertility, mortality, migration, technology, lifestyle and culture have dramatically affected the United States and the other nations of the world. These changes have implications for a number of areas: hunger, the spread of illness and disease, environmental degradation, health services, household formation, the labor force, marriage and divorce, care for the elderly, birth control, poverty, urbanization, and business marketing strategies. An understanding of these is important as business, government, and individuals deal with the demands of the changing population.

Course Syllabus

Online Readings Packet (ND.Edu Netid is required for access)

Discussion Questions

These are questions we will be discussing in class.  Most of them are covered in the readings but we'll fill in gaps in class as necessary. Keeping these questions in mind as you go through the readings will help you to focus on some of the most critical points. This list will be updated regularly, at least a few days before we cover the material in class.  We will break down into small groups to go over many of these questions.  Similar questions will often appear on the exams, so being prepared to discuss these as we go along will be very beneficial to you. 

Dropbox and Box. Almost every semester I seem to have a student whose computer crashes or who accidentally deletes the most current version of their paper or has some other problem. I've even had students who had to rewrite their papers from scratch. I therefore strongly encourage you to set up a Dropbox account (or something similar) if you do not already have one. Dropbox gives you a minimum of 2GB of free online storage. I try to keep most of my current teaching and research work in Dropbox; that way it is backed up and I also have online access wherever I am. If you set up an account use your .edu email address because you can get more bonus storage that way. For more click on this link. Or, you may wish to use the Box feature offered by Notre Dame. I've never used it but it sounds like a good service. Note, however, that you lose access to Box after you graduate, so you'll eventually need to copy your files somewhere else. See http://oithelp.nd.edu/shared-file-space/box/ .

Useful Web Links

Remember, there is a lot of junk on the web!  But there are also some excellent scholarly resources.  Here are some links that I find particularly helpful. 

United States Census Bureau.  The main page includes easy access to lots of data, statistics and reports.  See especially the Census 2010 and Census 2000 web page, which includes links to data and findings from both the 2000 and 1990 censuses.  To find out about your own neighborhood, go here and type in your address.

World & US Population Clocks (Click on the clocks to get more useful info).

World Population Information (includes both current and historical information on world population)

Fedstats (In particular, go to the A-Z index and look up the topic you want, e.g. births, deaths.)

National Center for Health Statistics (The links for Fastats and Health Topics are especially helpful)

USA Today has a web page devoted to the 2010 Census while The Washington Post has one for 2000.  Other useful research-oriented sites include the Population Reference Bureau (see in particular the Population Bulletins), The Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, and the Brookings Institution Center on Metropolitan Policy.

Our library has put together some great online resources for Notre Dame users; the Electronic Journal Access is especially great.  Google is a good search engine, but for academic work you'll often do better with Google Scholar and Web of Science.  EBSCOhost describes itself as "a powerful online reference system accessible via the Internet. It offers a variety of proprietary full text databases and popular databases from leading information providers.  The comprehensive databases range from general reference collections to specially designed, subject-specific databases for public, academic, medical, corporate and school libraries." Lexis-Nexis will let you "Search the full text of today's news or search back more than 20 years."   The library also has resource pages devoted to the the Social Sciences and other subjects.  And, of course, the library has books too!  Don't just limit your research to those items that you can access electronically.