Sociology Curriculum

The sociology curriculum is intended to provide an understanding of the interactions and workings of societies, their institutions, organizations and groups. Through an introduction to the basic concepts, theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches of the discipline, students are familiarized with the sociological imagination, encouraging a deeper understanding of the relationships between personal experience (one’s own and others’) and the social world. Courses not only acquaint students with diverse cultures and social structures but also emphasize the dynamics of power and inequality on local, national and global levels, as they operate through race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender, and sexuality. Our curriculum emphasizes the concepts and practice of social justice and public sociology. Built into courses and the curriculum are opportunities for students to develop a sense of social responsibility by critically engaging the social world outside the classroom. The experiential focus of the curriculum includes participation in international study, community-based service and learning, and internships.

The department emphasizes the active engagement of students in sociological inquiry. Toward that end, many courses are designed to teach students the basics of theory construction and methodological processes. Our courses encourage students to make their own discoveries about human social experiences, and all majors are required to synthesize and apply what they have learned in the completion of an upper-level research–based, topical seminar or faculty-mentored independent research project.

While the department’s curriculum provides a strong foundation for graduate work in the discipline, our strength is in the development of strong critical and analytical skills as well as our support of writing and oral presentation skills and computer and visual literacy, all of which are important for success in any chosen life course.

In the tradition of a liberal arts education, the sociology curriculum is designed to promote a sense of curiosity about the diverse ways humans create, transform and adapt to their surroundings, self-reflection and appreciation of perspectives and experiences outside their own, and public intellectualism through attentive, creative, articulate engagement with community affairs and social issues.

The department has partnered with community-based learning programs to offer a variety of courses through which students engage in organized service activities that address community needs while offering structured opportunities to reflect on those activities in ways that promote active learning and personal development. Our campus-community programs have offered sociology majors the chance to work with children, seniors, persons with disabilities and local farmers, as well as participate in programs designed to advocate for the poor, the environment, and victims and survivors of violence.