Who Belongs?

Who Belongs?

Humans really are “social animals” – our need for belonging is fundamental and shapes how we live. The need to belong helps define the self – our identity is tied to the cultural and demographic groups to which we belong. Belonging also reveals our values, as we aspire to the morals and standards of the groups we want to be a part of. At the same time, drawing lines between who belongs and who doesn’t can create divisions that give rise to profound social inequalities – inequalities that can persist even long after we try to erase those lines. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of belonging in both obvious and unexpected ways.  In this FIG, we will consider social belonging at the societal level (how belonging – or not – is shaped by social institutions and status) and at the individual level, thinking about examples such as how an infant’s attachment to its parents affects healthy child development, how loneliness affects a person’s mental and physical health, and how students’ feelings of belonging to their college major will affect their career choices. We’ll also explore belonging “up close and personal”: As new students at the UO, what does it mean to belong in higher education and to belong at this university in this place, and how can we enhance feelings of belonging?

Students explore the intersection of topics by taking the following course package:

UGST 109 First-Year Experience Seminar 1-credit

PSY 202 Mind and Society - CoreEd or major satisfying course, 4-credits

This course is an introduction to psychological research methods, child and adult development, personality structure and functioning, social processes in every-day life, cultural and cross-cultural models of human adaptation, and abnormal-clinical psychology. This course is part of a two-term sequence in introductory psychology. The other course in this sequence (PSY 201) emphasizes learning, perception, memory, and the role of neural structures in psychological processes. PSY 201 and 202 are not prerequisites for each other.

SOC 204 Introduction to Sociology - CoreEd or major satisfying course, 4-credits

Our study of human society and group life begins with an overview of the tools of sociological inquiry, including theory and methodological reasoning, followed by an overview of human socialization and its role in shaping self-identity. Four additional themes are covered: Crime and Social Control; Social Inequalities Worldwide and by Class, Race, and Gender within the U.S.A.; Dynamics of Social Institutions; and finally, the process of Social Change in an ecologically interconnected, global society.How and why do human groups and societies develop and function? Sociology offers a scientific understanding of human behavior as it relates to and results from interaction within these groups.