Mission Statement

The Department of Sociology is committed to the principles of a liberal education and to assisting students in learning to "think sociologically" in order to define, analyze, and understand human behavior. Therefore, we are committed to equipping undergraduate students with a broad view of the world consistent with the goals of a liberal arts education and to preparing them to understand the structures and patterns upon which everyday life rests; the interplay between biography, history and their intersections within social structures; to interpret social patterns and relationships from multiple perspectives; and to examine existing social arrangements critically - in other words, to develop and apply a sociological imagination. The mission of the Sociology Department is also intricately tied to the mission of the university and the college of arts and sciences which recognizes the richness of our multiculturalism and diversity. In this regard, an important part of our mission is to educate students for world citizenship. This requires a broad knowledge and understanding of culture and society, a critical understanding of multicultural perspectives and experiences as well as the emerging interdependencies among members of the global community.

Our instructional mission includes providing knowledge and skills, both sociological and general, for a broad spectrum of jobs in today's competitive labor market or to pursue graduate and professional degrees in Sociology and related disciplines. This includes fostering in our students critical and analytical thinking skills, research abilities necessary to explore systematically the complex interconnections among people and their social worlds, and to engage in life-long learning. Responsive to this mission, the sociology department provides students with opportunities to develop and enhance rational thinking and prudent judgment, to enhance communication skills, to develop understanding, respect, and understanding of differences, to expand the imagination, to acquire knowledge about a wide range of theoretical perspectives and principles, and to acquire a working knowledge of the application and use of sociological methods of inquiry, including statistical analysis and field methods of research. Students are provided with a wide range of opportunities to apply these skills through participation in empirical research and service to the community.

The vision that informs our mission is of a proactive civic sociology focusing on stratification, the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality, individual and collective agency and social change as central to sociological analysis. In addition, central to our mission is a departmental emphasis on application and sociological practice. We encourage close collaboration among faculty and students at all levels of sociological practice: in the classroom, in the conduct of research and in serving the needs of our various communities. Students are given a variety of opportunities to engage in and complete community service projects and the department's internship program provides students with an opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to the realities of work in organizations serving diverse communities thereby helping them bridge the gap between theory and the practice of sociology. We expect students to demonstrate an appreciation for social and intellectual diversity, an awareness of social inequality, civic engagement and responsibility, and a commitment to social justice. In this context, the department has sought to provide a dynamic student-centered environment within which students are provided with course work and experiences that empower them to create a more humane and just society.

The sociology faculty are sensitive to the particular needs of all of our students thus we provide a range of opportunities for full-time and part-time, day and evening study for both traditional and nontraditional students utilizing a variety of perspectives and pedagogical styles to enrich the teaching and learning experiences of our students. In addition, the department recruits and retains qualified faculty members who are sensitive to the differential needs and learning styles of our students as well as the developments in their respective areas of expertise and who demonstrate a professional commitment to teaching. Sociology faculty are also active contributors to sociological knowledge through research, publications, and community activism within their respective specialty areas. The combined strengths of our department faculty in topical areas of scholarly and community activism include: social/structured inequality; the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexualities; contemporary social issues, self-defense; institutions and organizations; community studies and community activism; development; globalization; and demography. Our teaching and scholarship are grounded in the values of: academic and professional integrity, inclusiveness, community, compassion, excellence, creativity and collaboration.

The department manifests its mission through course offerings for a minor in Sociology or a major leading to the Bachelor of Arts Degree.

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web page updated: 4.25.10