Member of the Division of Social Studies
Christopher Hunter - Senior Faculty Status
Sociology, the scientific study of human behavior in social groups, seeks to understand how people interact, how they organize themselves in social groups, and how this organization changes. Sociologists think that human life and human interactions are distinctively patterned, and that these patterns are observable, predictable, and reflect status differences in society. Sociologists also have a nuanced understanding of social structure, and they study the social relationships between individuals, groups, social institutions, and nations. Our curriculum provides a solid foundation in the key tenets of the discipline (social theory and research methods) while exposing students to a wide range of sociological issues, problems, arguments, and approaches. Courses in sociology focus on the basic forms of social organization and social processes, including several sociological sub-fields such as social inequality, medical sociology, the sociology of deviance, political sociology, and the intersections between race, social class, and gender. These courses contribute to a critical appreciation of how the social world operates—an essential understanding for any liberally educated person in a complex and rapidly changing world. Students of sociology will find that related work in psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, and history enhances their sociological insights. Majors are required to study statistics and are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary courses, internships, community service learning, mentored advanced projects, and off-campus programs. The study of foreign languages also is highly recommended.
Sociological training is useful for any career, since all careers require working with people in groups or organizations. Courses in the major emphasize those skills important to students’ work in graduate school or in careers: critical thinking, the ability to read and write analytically, to problem-solve, and to communicate orally. The discipline is particularly suited for careers in law, urban and social planning, medicine, non-profit organizations, journalism, social work, teaching, and governmental service.