THE SOCIOLOGY MAJOR
Sociologists examine subjects encompassing a vast array of human behavior: crime and punishment, the formation and dissolution of families, bureaucracy in organizations, conflicts between classes, and global inequalities. Sociology is distinctive in its focus on the way individuals' lives are embedded within multiple social contexts that facilitate and constrain the range of possible actions. These contexts include generation, occupation, gender, religion, sexual orientation, family, health, nation, race and ethnicity among many others. Sociologists utilize a variety of information sources in their work, including census data, historical documents, transcripts from interviews, survey results, and observations of group behavior.
The Department of Sociology at Western has designed a program of course work that provides majors opportunities to gain:
1) Understanding of theoretical perspectives within sociology;
2) Mastery of the methods of data collection and analysis, and
3) In-depth knowledge of particular subareas. The primary subareas include law, crime, and deviance; families; social organization; and population studies.
Regardless of the particular plan of course work that is chosen, sociology students will develop an aptitude for critical thinking, the ability to write effectively for a social scientific audience, and competence with statistical computing that will enhance their future career options. We also offer faculty-led study abroad programs and encourage our students to experience immersion in cultures outside the United States. Recent sociology graduates have obtained positions in a variety of fields, including criminal justice, corrections, education, social services, business management, and marriage and family counseling, among many others. Graduates have found that the skills acquired in our program have prepared them for further academic studies in sociology, demography, law, social work, and education.
The department maintains a number of facilities and resources that undergraduate students may use to enhance their educational experience. The Center for Social Science Instruction contains U.S. Census Bureau publications and data, a collection of census maps for the local area, and a computer lab. The director of the center is also available to assist students in utilizing several large databases that are available in the center. The Office of Survey Research has involved many undergraduate students in the construction and administration of surveys of Western students and alumni. The department also has its own 30-station computer laboratory for student use. Faculty are engaged in a variety of research activities, and have often involved undergraduate students in their work.
Students who are interested in becoming sociology majors should carefully read the section on Becoming a Major and are encouraged to meet with the departmental advisor to establish a study plan as soon as possible.