SOAN 384: The Family in World Perspective is a three-credit social science course that provides students with a ?wealth of information? about ?various family systems in international and multicultural contexts.?
AU student Debbie Hamilton decided to register in this course not only to ?fulfill an elective requirement,? but also because she ?thought that it would be interesting to learn about different families in different cultures.? Hamilton hoped to gain ?a better understanding about why people behave the way they do.?
?I am not finished the course yet,? Hamilton says, ?but I have to say that the most favourite part of the course is the research project, because I am able to relate the topic I am researching to my community, which gives me a better understanding of where I live.? Hamilton also finds that the work she has done on her research project has helped her in her job, as she now has a better understanding of her clients.
Hamilton deeply appreciates the support she has received from her tutor throughout the course. ?I love my tutor, Lois Johnston,? she says. ?She is so very helpful when I have questions. She is always available during tutor hours, always calls back right away if there is a problem with the phone, she emails back promptly and sends marks and assignments back on time.?
Dr. Johnston has been tutoring SOAN 384 for almost 10 years, and says that ?SOAN 384: The Family in World Perspective focuses on the family from an international and cross-cultural perspective and allows students the opportunity to examine cross-cultural responses and solutions to family issues, and to compare such solutions and responses to those in our own culture.
?It is hoped that the student will recognize and come to appreciate the variation in bonding relationships, in forms of family, in ways of raising children, etc. and will acknowledge diversity as a starting point for any discussion or study of family,? she explains.
Though the course was previously in need of updating, Dr. Johnston recently ?enjoyed the challenge of revising it,? and says that the revision now ?appears to be ready for use . . . The revised course includes numerous readings on recent topics related to the family. For example, one reading (2008) deals with sex selection and international human rights law. Another, (2009) with transnational families.?
One aspect of the course that Dr. Johnston believes may surprise many students is ?the international flavour of this course.? In SOAN 384, North American culture is not viewed as the universal norm. This international perspective provides a unique learning experience for students. After adjusting to this surprise, however, Dr. Johnston finds that The Family in World Perspective often allows students to develop ?a genuine interest in further studies in Anthropology.?
?Some students may find some definitions and viewpoints controversial,? Dr. Johnston warns. She hopes, though, that ?students will postpone judgment until they have completed the readings and their own research.?