The Department of Sociology has set fundamental learning objectives. They center on the development of inquiry and critical analysis, ethical reasoning, quantitative and qualitative skills, written and oral communication, and knowledge about the global world. Our main goal is to enable our students to develop and deepen their understanding of Sociology as “a way of seeing.” We do this through building fundamentals beginning with Soc 101 (Introduction to Sociology) or Soc 104 (Contemporary Social Problems), both of which emphasize the theoretical and disciplinary foundations of Sociology. Students then take increasingly more challenging courses in various areas including comparative (global) cultures, structures of power and inequality, and issues of social justice. The foundational core includes Soc 141 (Statistics in the Social Sciences) or Soc 272 (Analyzing Social Trends), Soc 202 (Research Methods), Soc 301 (Sociological Theory), and Soc 402 (the Senior Capstone).

In the senior year, students take a capstone course that requires them to apply the skills they have attained by conducting and completing an empirical research project (Soc 402) or by fulfilling an internship that includes some sort of empirical or theoretical research (typically completed through Soc 402 and independently supervised work). Students participate in a senior symposium to discuss their work.

Elements of Learning Objectives

Inquiry and Analysis – Complex issues are explored and examined in the contexts of evidence to arrive at informed conclusions and judgments. Thinking critically is nurtured through a habit of inquiring mind.

Information Literacy – Quantitative and qualitative data are examined to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use information to solve the problem at hand.

Written and Oral CommunicationExpress ideas coherently and clearly in both writing and speaking. Different writing technologies, a mix of texts and images, and purposeful presentations are designed to foster understanding and to promote varied ideas and perspectives.

Knowledge of the Global World– Understand the importance of cultural and historical contexts (whether local, national or transnational) that shape varying social identities, relationships and systems.

Sociological PerspectiveDemonstrate imagination and proficiency in the analysis of social relations and processes. Understand the patterns of continuity and change in social life that either confirm or modify sociological theories and perspectives. Deepen the understanding of sociology as a discipline and how sociological knowledge is created.

Research Design ­– Grasp the relationship between theory and research by operationalizing key concepts from sociology and related disciplines and create research instruments (surveys, interviews, participant observation, content analysis, ethnographic field notes, etc.) Demonstrate an understanding of relevant populations and samples by addressing issues of representativeness, generalizability, and selection strategies.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis – Develop analytical skills using statistical software (such as SPSS and GIS) and conduct secondary analyses using databases (such as the GSS). Also understand a grounded, inductive approach to analyzing themes that emerge from qualitative data.

Ethics – Understand that sociological research is framed by ethical guidelines for the protection of human subjects and through the honest and transparent collection, analysis, and presentation of data. Students deepen their ethical understanding in research and data collection through individual projects and peer review.

Synthesis — Bring together theories, concepts, perspectives, and data for a nuanced understanding of social life. Be able to synthesize relevant concepts within a theoretical framework and evaluate competing theories and perspectives in a convincing way.