Dr. Peter Weeks

Erin Fredericks

Department of Sociology

BA (STU), PhD (Dalhousie)

Assistant Professor

Courses Taught

Pedagogy and Teaching Methods


Teaching at the university level involves supporting students in developing a critical perspective that will allow them to enact change in the world. In our individualistic society, we have a tendency to locate the root causes of social issues in the behaviour of individuals, instead of looking to the social processes and institutions through which some groups of individuals become privileged and others become marginalized. As a teacher, I hope to support students in seeing the socially constructed root causes of inequities. This knowledge provides opportunities for students to enact the types of changes they wish to make in the world.


Such complex understandings of the world can be overwhelming. Students may ask: How can we enact change when this issue is so complicated? My reply to this concern is always the same: “We must think big and act small.” Understanding the complexity of the social world in which we live does not mean that we can change everything at once, but it does mean that we can act in ways that contribute to the larger changes we wish to see. For me, teaching is a way to make change in a world where I see the need for more responsible citizens committed to social justice. My passion for teaching is rooted in my commitment to this change.


In my courses, students prepare for each class by completing a course reading. I choose readings that clearly and efficiently convey course knowledge. As I strive to inspire critical sociological thinking, not memorization, I carefully select readings that encourage students to learn key concepts in order to develop critical thinking skills. A typical 50 minute class begins with an opportunity for students to share news items that relate to our course. In 1000 and 2000 level courses I use PowerPoint in longer lectures to assist students in engaging with the lecture and developing note taking skills. Next, the class completes an in-class activity to better understand and/or apply the key concept.


Courses Regularly Taught


SOCI-1006. Introduction to Sociology

A survey course that introduces students to the discipline of sociology with particular reference to Canadian Society. This course examines theories and research concerning the nature of social order and conflict in industrial society; the relations between important structures or elements of society, including the economy, family, education, religion, complex organizations, racial and ethnic groups, and the dynamics of social change. Several major theoretical approaches in sociology are compared throughout the course.


SOCI-2013. Research Methods

An introduction to the main research techniques used in sociology. The course will include practical experience in research design, methods of data collection, sampling procedures, and analysis of data.


SOCI-2653. Sociology of Health

This course provides an introduction to sociology of health and illness. We will analyze the social construction of medical knowledge, the dominant mode of understanding health and illness in our society; experiences of health and illness; the social foundations of health inequalities?how and why patterns of health, illness and mortality reflect class, gender, sexuality, racial and ethnic divisions; the formal institutions that define and manage health and health care; and the consequences of medicalization. Prerequisite: SOCI-1006. Introduction to Sociology.


SOCI-3913. Sociology of Disease

This course will explore the social construction of disease in modern medicine. We will examine the process of medicalization, focusing on the classification of human experience into disease categories; medical authority to diagnose and treat disease; the ways in which disease categories validate or invalidate experiences of illness; and the effects of being labeled as diseased. These topics will be explored through sociological analyses of specific diseases, including diseases that are contested and stigmatized. Prerequisite: SOCI-1006 Introduction to Sociology.