Ability to Conduct Sociological Research on A Global Social Problem Project

Using infographics to learn and communicate about global problems

(Adapted from Janos 2017)

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This assignment combines sociological research with the creation and dissemination of a sociological infographic. An infographic is generally defined as data visualization with an emphasis on design, readability, and information usually containing pictures, graphs and charts. In this semester long assignment, students will select and research a global problem, create and design a data rich infographic, conduct peer review, write a reflective paper, and finally share their infographic publicly.

Your infographic is required to include researched data, images/visuals, references to sources, aesthetic-pleasing presentation, sociological analysis, ease/speed of comprehension, and must be submitted as a JPG or PDF format. You should have at minimum a mix of 5-10 academic, organization, and news articles as sources. Along with the infographic, you will write a graded reflection paper that both describes and reflects on your experience and rational, presents your sociological analysis, and includes your supporting data and sources.

Learning goals:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to conduct sociological research on a global social problem.
  2. Demonstrate the ability use technology to create new forms of sociological story-telling.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to engage in public sociology by disseminating their research.

Timeline and helpful hints and links:

This is a semester long research project with milestone assignments throughout the semester.

  • Students are required to submit a research proposal during week two of this eight week class so that their topic, methods, and plans can be evaluated before they begin the research. The research proposal is designed to allow students time to select an appropriate topic and conduct some initial research on the topic (see the Proposal guidelines below). See the accompanying PowerPoint file containing the annotated slide deck title “infographic workshop,” which introduces what infographics are and what are good ones and not so good ones. I will approve or reject with revisions of each student’s topic.
    1. Students have to select an appropriate topic suitable for a class on globalization, which means students cannot pick a topic located in the USA. Students are instructed that the topic must either be a global/international phenomenon (span multiple places and countries) or be a specific problem in a specific country other than the USA. Some exemplary topics included: “environmental racism around the world”, which connects the concept of environmental inequality to manifestations in different countries; “gender inequality in the developing world,” which involves the discussion of gender as a vector of oppression that varies by nation.Each of these topics is exemplary for their sociological content for three reasons: 1) global/international problems, 2) engaged with sociological concepts, and 3) engaged the readings and topics covered in class.
    2. Students should use sociological concepts relevant to their topic and/or contained in the course readings and lectures (such as environmental racism, vectors of oppression, neoliberalism, etc.) to make their infographic more than a compendium of data and instead a form of sociological work that combines conceptually driven data analysis. Data does not speak for itself, but rather sociologists use concepts and theory to inform and build narrative with data.
  • Students engage in the process of sociological research. In order to create an infographic, students will collect and evaluate sociological data. Much like a traditional research paper, students will use library resources to find data from peer review academic papers and books. Additionally, students can collect data from organizations and institutions (e.g. UN, World Bank, etc.) that publish data on the internet, as well as news reports (BBC, Al Jazeera) that report on data relevant to their topic. I expect you to review the Online Library presentation, available in the Infographic Module, covering how to use the library, what is academic and peer-reviewed work, how to read and understand academic journal articles, how to organize data, how to interpret and evaluate data, and how to use proper citations and references.

    There are many free infographic creation tools on the internet. Some of them offer basic functionality but require a fee to utilize more sophisticated tools or select unique graphics. Other students used Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote to create their infographic

    Helpful resources and best practices:

    Do-it-yourself tools for drafting or final product:

    • Keynote, PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator

    Websites to generate infographics:

    • canva.com
    • piktochart.com
    • easel.ly
    • infogr.am
    • visme.co