Plan II Honors Logo
Plan II Honors

S S 302C • Hon Soc Sci:methods/Theory

41595 • Chapman, Terrence
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 306
show description

Course Number: S S 302C 

Course Title: Social Science Research and Methods 

Semester/Year: Spring 2022  

Instructor Name: Terry Chapman 


This course will serve as a broad introduction to political science research.  There are many “big” questions that social science research (and political science more specifically) can shed light on.  Many of these often seem too confusing, too divisive, too distant, or even unanswerable.  Certainly, the way many of these issues are discussed in popular discourse frequently involves assertions based in dubious reasoning or divorced from facts.   Put frankly, political discourse in the U.S. suffers from a deficit of social science reasoning.  But we can do better.  And this course will be a window into how we can do better.  It is a course in empowerment – empowerment of how to think about an answer big questions of the social world.  

Logistically, the course will be framed around (1) an introductory text presenting the logic of research design and common approaches to answering social science questions and (2) specific studies that use these methods to attempt to answer questions.  (1) will explain the common foundations of social science theory and methods, while (2) will showcase various applications.  

This course may be used to fulfill the social and behavioral sciences component of the university core curriculum and addresses the following four core objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: communication skills, critical thinking skills, empirical and quantitative skills, and social responsibility.     

Required Texts 

Course Requirements 

25% weekly quizzes 

20% presentation of article + article summary assignment 

25% midterm exam 

25% final exam 

15% class participation  

Instructor Bio 

In addition to his role in the Government Department, Professor Chapman is a distinguished scholar of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and affiliated faculty member of both the Center for European Studies and the Clements Center on History Strategy, and Statecraft.  His research interests span the study of international institutions, international security, and international political economy. In 2009-2010 he held a position as a visiting associate research scholar at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University.  His work has appeared in International Organization, the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, International Interactions, and International Studies Quarterly. His book, Securing Approval: Domestic Politics and Multilateral Authorization for War, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011 and won the 2011-2012 American Political Science Association Conflict Processes Section Book Award. He a former associate and senior editor for International Studies Quarterly.   He received his Ph.D. in 2007 from Emory University. 

S S 302D • Hon Social Sci: Psychology

41600 • Yeager, David
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 201
show description

Course Number: S S 302D 

Course Title: Using Behavioral Science to Change the World  

Semester/Year: Spring 2022 

Instructor Name: David Yeager 


The 20th century was defined by humanity’s ability to invent a pill, vaccine, or device to overcome our biggest challenges. As the current COVID pandemic makes clear, those days are not over entirely. But, in this century, the most serious threats to human health and well-being are largely driven by individual and collective behavior choices we all make every day—whether we persist in school, maintain healthy diets, wear face masks, save for retirement, put our phones away while driving, use energy and other resources responsibly, and adhere to basic ethical standards. Consequently, behavioral science has emerged as a major new frontier in the policy sphere. Behavioral interventions are policies or programs that are designed to influence individual behavior choices in ways that benefit individuals, the organizations they are part of, and/or the broader society without the use of any significant economic incentives (e.g., fines, subsidies). Instead, to shape behavior, behavioral interventions rely on a sophisticated understanding of the psychology that drives people’s decisions—usually by tapping into underappreciated and powerful internal sources of motivation, by alleviating hidden psychological barriers to the desired behavior, or a combination of these.In the past decade, large numbers of governments at every level (e.g., US, UK, City of Chicago), social entrepreneurship ventures (e.g., the One Acre Fund, Innovations for Poverty Action), major corporations (e.g., Bank of America, Pepsico, Google, Facebook, Uber, Morningstar Financial), and non-governmental organizations (e.g., the World Bank, the World Health Organization) have launched their own in-house behavioral science teams to conduct research to inform the design of new policies and programs. And countless other organizations are making use of outside behavioral insights consultants (Ideas 42, Behavioral Insights Team, BEworks, Behavioral Sight) to inform key decisions in a wide range of domains. 

Diversity and Inclusion 

This course will be challenging and we all need to feel safe and included if we are to embrace that challenge. As such, it is essential that we create a positive learning environment where diverse perspectives are recognized and valued as a source of strength. I ask that you join me and your fellow students in creating a classroom culture based on open communication, mutual respect, and inclusion. Disagreements and debates are fine and can even be good. But I ask that you focus on the arguments, not the person, and that you seek to understand, not characterize.  


The goal of this course is to provide you with the basic knowledge and experience necessary to competently design and evaluate new behavioral interventions as a working professional in a social entrepreneurship venture, traditional for-profit firm, government agency, or NGO. This course is also appropriate for any student who plans to work in a more traditional policy-making or management role and simply wants to have a solid grounding in relevant behavioral principles. This course is intended to prepare you to actually design your own interventions to influence the behaviors you care about in contexts you are interested in. This course is appropriate for students with interests in a wide range of social, policy, or business goals. In the table below, I list some common professional interests, the sectors they are most commonly associated with, and example behaviors or related outcomes that a behavioral intervention might target. This is meant to illustrate the broad applicability of the skills you will develop in this course and the wide range of substantive domains you can choose to focus on in developing your own actual intervention designs, which you will be doing in this course. 

Required Texts 

A series of articles, books, and book excerpts will be assigned. Purchase the required books and as many (or as few) of the optional books as you choose. Used copies are fine and it doesn’t matter which edition you get. All additional reading materials will be posted on Canvas. The readings for each week should be completed before the class meeting noted in the syllabus.   

Required books: 

Handbook of Wise InterventionsGregory M. Walton and Alia J. Crum (Eds.), Guilford Press. New York. *Note: Available for free through UT libraries 

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Penguin Books. New York *Note: Used copies are available online. 

Optional books (relevant readings will be posted as PDFs on Canvas) 

Influence: The Science of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Harper Business. New York 

 The person and the situation: Perspectives of social psychology by Lee Ross & Richard Nisbett, McGraw-Hill series in social psychology. London 

Course Requirements 

Participation: 35% of final grade 

  • 10% - Discussion questions 
  • 10% - Conceptual toolkit journal entries 
  • 10% - Feedback on other students’ work 
  • 5% - Active participation in class, collaboration with peers, etc. In order to gain full credit, you must share your thoughts in class (either live or in the chat) and in groups.  

Short-form intervention proposals: 30% of final grade 

  • 5% - Initial Week-4 concept proposal 
  • 10% - First short-form proposal draft of final project 
  • 15% - Second short-form proposal draft of final project 

Final Proposal: 35% of final grade 

A top-notch final proposal will include: 

  • A thoughtful and realistic conceptual analysis of the problem and how your proposed intervention is expected to ameliorate it 
  • An innovative proposed intervention approach (described clearly) with the potential to be effective 
  • A clearly-defined, measurable outcome and a realistic plan to measure it 
  • Carefully crafted intervention materials that bring your intervention concept “to life” for the participant. (It can be helpful to ask people you know to review your draft materials and give you feedback.) 

Instructor Bio 

Dr. Yeager is interested in understanding the processes shaping adolescent development, especially how social cognitive factors interact with structural and physiological factors to create positive or negative trajectories for youth.  He is also interested in learning how to influence these psychological processes, so as to improve developmental and educational outcomes for youth.   

S S 302E • Hon Soc Sci: Anthropology

41605 • Hartigan, John
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM WCP 4.118
show description

Course Number: SS 302E 

Course Title: Urban Cultures 

Semester/Year: Spring 2022 

Instructor Name: John Hartigan 

Description: This inquiry-based course sets up students to pursue fieldwork on a range of urban dynamics. Using Austin as our template, we will analyze a range of contemporary features of urban life, from gentrification and climate change, to tech developments and the music scene. Students will learn basic ethnographic techniques and then pursue a semester-long research project on some feature of current life in Austin.  

Required Texts:  

Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity, Setha Low et al. 

Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City, Javier Auyero 

City in a garden : environmental transformations and racial justice in twentieth-century Austin, Texas, Andrew M. Busch. 

Thinking like a Climate: Governing a city in times of environmental change,  Hannah Knox. 

Course Requirements: none 

Instructor Bio: John Hartigan Jr. is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. Hartigan has authored a variety of books on race, such as Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit, an ethnography of whites in Detroit; followed by Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People, a cultural history of “white trash.” Race in the 21st Century surveys the efforts of sociologists and anthropologists to study racial dynamics in everyday life. What Can You Say? America's National Conversation on Race is an "ethnography of media" that tracks how “racial” stories become news. 

S S 302F • Hon Social Sci: Economics

41610 • Acchiardo, Charity Joy
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PHR 2.114
show description

Course Number: S S 302F 

Course Title: Economics of Love and Marriage  

Semester/Year: Spring 2022 

Instructor Name: Charity-Joy Acchiardo 


In this course, we will look at the topics of love and marriage from a slightly different perspective than it is often seen! This will reveal fascinating insights into human behavior that broaden our understanding of the truly social science of economics. 

Economics is about the choices individuals make regarding their limited resources (like money, time, and love).  We’ll start by discussing the foundational principles of economics and then apply them to different situations within our area of focus.   

Be the end of this semester we will be able to answer questions like the following: 

  • What factors influence the average age of marriage and why? 
  • How do marriage laws affect the behaviors of individuals in long-term relationships? 
  • Are our choices in love strictly rational, or are they influenced by various cognitive biases? 
  • In what ways does the organization of a society and its economy affect dating and marriage? 
  • In what ways do the dating and marriage customs of a society affect its economy? 

This course will require your full and active participation. The topics covered will often be for “mature audiences” and may represent views different from your own.  You are encouraged to discuss these differences in a respectful manner. 

Required Texts 

Acchiardo, C. and N. Malek. 2020 “Dismal Dating: A Student’s Guide to Romance Using the Economic Way of Thinking” The Journal of Private Enterprise, 35(3): 93-108. 

Adshade, Marina. 2013.  Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.  

Ariely, D. (2010). The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home. New York, NY: Harper. 

Birger, Jon. 2015. Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game. New York: Workman Publishing.  

Coleman, M. 2009. “Sunk Cost and Commitment to Dates Arranged Online.” Current Psychology, 28 (1): 45–54. 

Kendall, T. D. 2011. “The Relationship between Internet Access and Divorce Rate” Journal of Family and Economic Issues. 32 (2): 449-460 

Herpin N. 2005. “Love, Careers, and Heights in France, 2001.” Economics and Human Biology, 3 (3): 420-449. 

Hitsch, G. J., A. Hortaçsu, and D. Ariely. 2010. "Matching and Sorting in Online Dating." American Economic Review, 100 (1): 130-63.  

Lee, L., G. Loewenstein, D. Ariely, J. Hong and J. Young. 2008.“If I’m Not Hot, Are You Hot or Not? Physical Attractiveness Evaluations and Dating Preferences as a Function of Own Attractiveness.” Psychological Science, 19 (7): 669-677. 

Oyer, Paul. 2014.  Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating. BostonHarvard Business Review Press. 

Course Requirements 

Course Journal 50% 

A portfolio of 20 complete daily journals.  Entries are completed in a 2-part process. The first part of the entry is submitted before class in the form of an annotated bibliography on the daily reading.  The second part is a reflection on the class lecture and discussion and is submitted after class. 

Final Paper 50% 

Students will choose a movie, TV show, or book that tells a love story and widely appeals to college students and relate it to the economic concepts we’ve discussed in class.  An outline and introduction for the report is due halfway through the semester.  A complete draft is due a week before the final due date.   

Instructor Bio 

Charity-Joy Acchiardo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Journal of Economics Teaching.  Her work in economic education is multifaceted and includes:  Dystopia and Economics: A Guide to Surviving Everything from the Apocalypse to Zombies; “Dismal Dating” a student’s guide to romance using the economic way of thinking; a compilation of entries from Humans of New York that serves as a springboard for economic inquiry; her websites and and many other resources dedicated to making the economics classroom more engaging. Dr. Acchiardo's passion is sharing her joy about economics with others, and she is a frequent speaker, both domestically and internationally, at workshops for educators and students. 

  •   Map
  • Plan II Honors Program

    University of Texas at Austin
    305 East 23rd St
    RLP 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250