Sociology

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 focuses 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. Students study and examine these phenomena with a variety of scientific tools, including collecting and analyzing statistical data and conducting surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.

As a Sociology major at Western, students learn how humans behave and interact in groups — whether small groups like families or large groups like religious organizations, and how one’s position in the larger society shapes life chances and experiences. 

Sociology students develop an aptitude for critical thinking, improve their writing ability, and gain competence with statistical computing that will enhance their future career options.  

The department is dedicated to providing quality instruction in several specialized areas of study in Sociology. The four major specializations in our department include Family and the Life Course, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Population Studies, and Social Organization/ Social Inequality.

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sociology are required to complete a math-intensive course of study. They develop an aptitude for critical thinking and improve their writing abilities. Students will obtain substantial experience with statistical computing, including programming and data analysis.

The Sociology Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

 

Jay Teachman
Professor

Awarded the 2015 Paul J. Olscamp award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Jay Teachman has been a professor in the Department of Sociology since 1998. He graduated from Western in 1974 and received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1978. Teachman has a longstanding interest in families and how families change over time. He has published a number of articles concerning topics such as military service, divorce, remarriage, child support and cohabitation. Teachman is co-principal investigator on several grants: “Determinants and Consequences of Military Service: 1940-1988;” “Military Service and Patterns of Marriage, Cohabitation and Union Dissolution;” “Impact of Military Service on Health,” all funded by the National Science Foundation; and “Stimulating Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Research in Population and Health,” funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Beyond the Classroom

Sociology students have the opportunity to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs, gain applied skills through service learning internships, and coauthor research papers with our faculty. 

The sociology department actively encourages students to pursue learning opportunities abroad, particularly through faculty-led programs. The department believes a global perspective is critical to understanding core sociological concepts, but to also better understand their own culture. Faculty-led study abroad programming often counts for upper-level major requirements, and travel courses may serve as a student’s capstone project on programs led by Sociology faculty — to places like Kenya, China, and India.   

Sociology students are also encouraged to pursue internships placements for credit towards the major. Data shows that sociology students who take part in internships have enriched learning experiences and find it much easier to find employment later.

Sociology students have completed internships with:

  • Allied Arts
  • Bellingham Planning Commission
  • Bellingham Police Department
  • Bellingham School District
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Brigid Collins
  • Catholic Community Services
  • Division of Children and Family Services
  • Law Offices in Bellingham
  • Northwest Youth Services
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Whatcom County Drug Court
  • Whatcom County Juvenile Corrections
  • Whatcom County Juvenile Court
  • Whatcom County Juvenile Probation
  • Whatcom County Public Defender's Office
  • Whatcom County Sheriff
  • Whatcom Crisis Services Sexual Assault Program
  • Women Care Shelter

 

“I love how much Sociology is in everyday life — every aspect of how society is constructed and how people interact is part of sociology, and I love learning how and why people act the way they do.”  

–Jasmine Strode-Elfant, Student

“I am interested in public policy and making things better at a zoomed out broader level. Sociologists just like to do that!” 

–Batu Dashnyam, Student

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

Many Sociology graduates enter professions such as law, education, social services and criminal justice work while others pursue graduate training in Sociology.  

Employers of Recent Western Graduates:

  • AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Bellingham School District
  • College Forward
  • MSR Communications
  • Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe
  • SDL, Inc.
  • SeaMar Visions Youth Treatment Center
  • State of Washington Juvenile Rehabilitation Center

Western graduates who pursue graduate studies are doing so at such schools as: 

  • Pennsylvania State University: Sociology (PhD)
  • University of Hawaii: Education (MA)
  • University of Nevada-Reno: Criminal Justice (MA)
  • Western Washington University: Rehabilitation Counseling (MA)

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Business Manager

  • Consumer Researcher

  • Human Resources Manager

  • Advertising Manager

  • Data Analyst

  • Research Analyst

  • Demographic Analyst

 

Recreation

The purpose of recreation and leisure is to contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and to enhance the quality of community life. The Recreation major is multidisciplinary, requiring understanding of the social, behavioral, physical, and environmental sciences as they pertain to helping people grow and develop in their leisure while conserving our vital natural resources. Knowledge of the arts and humanities is just as important, because leisure is one of the most fertile opportunities for self-expression and the development of community.

Nationally accredited since 1986 by the Council on Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the Recreation Program offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation. The major offers concentrations in tourism, community recreation, outdoor recreation, and therapeutic recreation. The department and faculty goal is to help students become knowledgeable, competent, and virtuous professionals — the sum of which is a foundation for professional excellence.

The Recreation curriculum prepares students to design, implement, manage, lead, and evaluate recreation programs and services. The program is designed as four sequential 15-16 credit hour phases, which students move through as a cohort group. Students enter Phase 1 of the program during spring quarter, typically during their sophomore or junior year.

The Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

Beyond the Classroom

Each student in the Recreation Program must complete 240 hours of leadership prior to beginning their internship in Phase III of the program.  That equates to an average of 10,000 hours of student service per year to organizations that serve individuals, families, communities, and the environment in Bellingham and throughout Washington.  In recent years, our students have served the YMCA, the Max Higbee Center, Boys and Girls Club, Arne Hannah Aquatic Center, Whatcom Humane Society, and Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center to name just a few. In addition, students complete a 400-hour, ten-week internship experience. In the department's 2014 Exit Survey, 97% of graduating students rated the Internship as “Very Important” or “Important” to their professional growth.

“I have been teaching in the Recreation Program at Western since 1980, and have witnessed some extraordinary - almost magical - moments as students discover how their beliefs and behaviors have the potential to enrich the lives of others.”

-Jill Heckathorn, Former Recreation Faculty

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

In support of healthy individuals, families, and communities, career opportunities in recreation and leisure services are numerous and diverse. Graduates of the Recreation Program are employed throughout the region, nation, and world. They work in a variety of settings, including public recreation departments, outdoor recreation programs, hospitals, and tourism agencies. Specific jobs performed by graduates include working as recreation therapists, organizing and leading outdoor adventure trips, managing youth-serving agencies, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, supervising public sports programs, coordinating community cultural arts, operating eco-tourism trips, and serving as park rangers with state and federal agencies, and managing youth-serving agencies, such as Boys and Girls Clubs. Some graduates have found their degrees useful for work in fields such as social work, the ministry, and law enforcement.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates:

  • Alderwood Convalescent Center (Bellingham, WA)
  • Alpengirl Summer Adventure Camp for Girls (Bozeman, MT)
  • AmeriCorps (CO)
  • Boys and Girls Club (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Camp Wingate Kirkland (Yarmouth Port, MA)
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Chena Hot Springs Resort (Fairbanks, AK)
  • Earthcorps (Seattle)
  • Holland American Cruiseline
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (Jackson, WY)
  • Lacey Parks and Recreation (Lacey)
  • Metro Parks (Tacoma)
  • Mount Baker Ski Area
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • NOLS Pacific Northwest (Conway)
  • Outward Bound (CA)
  • Skydive Snohomish (Snohomish)
  • Wild Whatcom (Bellingham)

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Recreation Therapist 
  • Outdoor Adventure Leader 
  • Youth Programs Coordinator 
  • Eco-tourism Operator 
  • Park Ranger

Department of Health and Human Development - Recreation

Psychology: Human Development—Elementary

Many of the major issues facing children and schools today — school readiness, achievement motivation, testing, classroom behavior, stereotyping, bullying, family and neighborhood stressors — are issues of human psychology. Psychology, as the scientific study of mind and behavior, will help provide answers to these problems, as well as contribute to the scientific understanding of how children best think and learn.

The program in Psychology: Human Development is designed to provide students in the Elementary Education program with an in-depth understanding of theory, research, and application in developmental psychology, and a sound background in general psychology. The program is designed to allow students flexibility in selecting psychology courses with the assistance of their advisor.

This major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in elementary education. See the Elementary Education section of this catalog for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements.

The Psychology Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

“WWU has an incredible Psychology program that gave me the opportunity to perform research, engage in enlightening discussions with my peers and professors, and allowed me to present research findings at professional conferences.”

-Connor Herron, Student

 

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the Psychology Department get involved with the WWU Psychology Club or the Neuroscience Research Driven Students (NeRDS) Club. Some students find internships in their field like: Ada County Juvenile Court Services — Diversion Program, Catholic Community Services — Recovery Center, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Foundation — Patient Resources, Western Washington University Associated Students — Resource and Outreach Programming at the Women’s Center. 

“Students have direct access to faculty and work collaboratively on cutting-edge psychological research that gets published in scientific outlets. By the time they graduate, psychology majors have had opportunities to present research at conferences, effect changes in their communities through service-learning courses, and expand their intellectual capacity through the provocative discussions of small seminar classes.”

-Dr. Alex Czopp, Faculty

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Counselor
  • Employment Agency Counselor
  • Training and Development Professional
  • Mental Health Coordinator
  • Human Resources Personnel
  • Social Service Administrator
  • Public Relations
  • Corrections Officer
  • Educator
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Social Service Worker
  • Psychologist

 

Physics/Mathematics—Secondary Education

Students in the Secondary Education program learn how to teach within a mathematical and science context and conduct thorough studies of mathematics and physics. Western's Physics/Mathematics Secondary Education degree program offers formal clinical preparation in education, an extended internship, and continual experiences as a student, learner, and problem solver in mathematics and physics.

Students in the program focus on expanding their personal understanding of mathematics and physics and capitalize on the opportunities available to tutor pre-college students, assist in classrooms, and obtain a position as a practicum student or novice teacher in their internship.

This major must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Secondary Education offered through Woodring College of Education. Western’s Physics and Astronomy Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.

 

Beyond the Classroom

Students wishing to stay involved with the Mathematics and Physics community have the opportunity to immerse themselves in extracurricular activities that often pertain to teaching as well as math and science:

  • Physics Teaching Assistants (TAs) assist professors in principally two ways: lab assistance and grading. Duties for lab TAs may include attending weekly training meetings, running lab sessions, and grading lab reports. Students are paid an hourly rate based on experience with the department. Students often find that they have a much deeper understanding of physics after being a TA. One of the favorite benefits to being a TA is having a key to the student study space, affectionately called "The Zoo."

  • Physics Department Seminars include colloquia and conferences put on by faculty and field scholars, which all students are invited to attend.  

  • Student stay involved with mathematics by working in the Math Center (staffed by undergraduate Math Fellows, it is a great place to get help with homework, meet other students, and form study groups), join the Putnam Exam group, or participate in the Math Modeling Competition or the Kryptos Cryptography Competition.

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

Students in the Physics/Mathematics Secondary Education program often go on to graduate schools or find teaching positions in middle or secondary education.

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Secondary Education Teacher

Department of Physics/Astronomy

Physical Education and Health P-12

Western’s Physical Education and Health P-12 program provides concentrated study of Physical and Health Education. Completion of requirements leads to Teacher Certification in P-12 Physical Education and Health (Health and Fitness). The program is unique, in that it consists of Physical Education pedagogy with practicum experiences at the elementary, middle, high school, and college levels in diverse teaching environments which allow our students concentrated time to develop teaching strategies while working with children and adolescents in their schools.

The Physical Education and Health P-12 major leads to an endorsement in Health and Fitness and must be accompanied by the Secondary Education Professional Program offered through Western's Woodring College of Education.

Western's Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the program participate in teaching practicums but are also encouraged to join clubs or volunteer in order to make connections with other peers and professionals. 

“Western's Physical Education and Health program is intended to prepare highly qualified and determined students to become professional educators, and through my experience it has done much more – not only has it helped me build an outstanding professional background, but I have found a network of friends and mentors, have become confident in my future career choice, and have learned a tremendous amount of valuable information.”

–Nicole Akaran, Student

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • P-12 Physical Education Teacher
  • Health Education Teacher

Department of Health and Human Development - Physical Education

Mathematics—Secondary Education

There is a demand for qualified teachers at the secondary level, but there is an even greater need for quality mathematics teachers — teachers who care about both students and mathematics, teachers who have a broad and deep understanding of mathematics, and teachers who are thoroughly professional. The responsibilities are great, but the rewards are even greater.

Teaching mathematics is a challenge, a responsibility, and an opportunity. Learning to teach mathematics occurs through a variety of means: the study of a wide variety of mathematics, pedagogical preparation within a mathematical context, formal clinical preparation in education, an extended internship, and continual experiences as a student, learner, and problem solver.

As a prospective teacher, Western encourages students to focus on expanding their personal understanding of mathematics and capitalizing on opportunities to work with pre-college students as a tutor, classroom assistant, practicum student, and as a novice teacher in their internship. With access to both the Math Center as well as Woodring resources, students have dual communities to enhance and enrich their learning and teaching experiences.

This major must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Secondary Education offered through Woodring College of Education.

Western’s Mathematics Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.

 

Beyond the Classroom

Teacher education students in the Woodring program gain field experience as tutors, classroom assistants, practicum students, and as novice teachers in internship positions. 

As students in the Mathematics program, students have resources such as the  Math Center staffed by undergraduate Math Fellows—it is a great place to get help with homework, meet other students, and form study groups.

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

Graduates are employed in districts all over the state of Washington, and in a number of other locations within, and outside of, the U.S.

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Mathematics—Elementary Education

Teaching mathematics is a challenge, a responsibility, and an opportunity. Learning to teach mathematics occurs through a variety of means: the study of a wide variety of mathematics, pedagogical preparation within a mathematical context, formal clinical preparation in education, an extended internship, and continual experiences as a student, learner, and problem solver.

There is strong demand for elementary teachers with a strong background in mathematics, but there is an even greater need for quality mathematics teachers — teachers who care about both students and mathematics, teachers who have a broad and deep understanding of mathematics, and teachers who are thoroughly professional. The responsibilities are great, but the rewards are even greater.

As prospective elementary teachers specializing in mathematics, students focus on expanding their personal understanding of mathematics and capitalizing on opportunities to work with pre-college students — as tutors, classroom assistants, practicum students, and as novice teachers in an internship position. The Mathematics — Elementary major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Elementary Education offered through Woodring College of Education.

Involved in both the mathematics and the teaching community, math education students get the benefits of being a part of two colleges. Access to the Math Center as well as a myriad of teaching resources, helps our students meet their maximum potential as both teachers and learners. 

Western’s Mathematics Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.

 

Beyond the Classroom

As students in the mathematics program, students have resources such as the  Math Center staffed by undergraduate Math Fellows — it is a great place to get help with homework, meet other students, and form study groups.

Students in the Woodring program gain field experience as tutors, classroom assistants, practicum students, and as novice teachers in internship positions.

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

Students from the Mathematics — Elementary Education program generally go on to get jobs in both elementary and middle schools. In recent years, our graduates have been employed by school districts such as Bellingham, Kent, Tacoma and Redmond school districts.

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Elementary Teacher
  • Middle School Teacher

Mathematics/Computer Science

Mathematics is the study of pattern, structure, and change. Although it is one of the most ancient disciplines, new mathematics is being created every day. It can be found in everything from internet security, to green energy technology, to Wall Street investment strategies. 

Computer Science is organized around the study of design and analysis techniques used to write software or programs in various application areas, along with details about the internal workings of computers (known as computer architecture and operating systems).

Western’s Mathematics/Computer Science Program provides excellent preparation for graduate study or for careers in the technical, scientific, and mathematical application of computers. Students are able to apply their knowledge and expertise in the development of computer-based solutions of complicated mathematical problems, including environmental and ecological modeling, scientific and engineering calculations, and statistical analysis.

Western’s Mathematics and Computer Science Departments are part of the College of Science and Engineering.

 

Careers and Graduate Studies

With the skill set of both Western’s mathematics and computer science faculty, students in the Mathematics/Computer Science program have the tools to succeed in a myriad of career settings or, if they choose, in continued education.

 

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Research Analyst
  • Systems Analyst
  • Technical Writer
  • Applied Science Technologist
  • Information Scientist

Kinesiology—Sport Psychology

A BS degree in Kinesiology — Sport Psychology specialization provides students with the behavioral knowledge and educational techniques to enhance performance in recreational, exercise, and athletic settings. The major provides a concentrated study of human movement from mechanical, physiological, and pathological perspectives. Sport Psychology is appropriate for students who plan to work in the fitness/exercise industry or any other field such as coaching or rehabilitation, where human movement and exercise prescription are the focus. Additionally, this degree can serve as the gateway degree to the allied health professions (physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant) or preparation for post-baccalaureate study in other areas such as exercise physiology, health and fitness, biomechanics, physical therapy, sport psychology, nutrition, and human growth, and motor development. Supporting courses from biology, chemistry, computer science, communications, health education, and physics are included to provide more in-depth analysis of principles associated with human structure and function. 

The Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Throughout my tenure at Western, I have been inspired by the combined and dedicated efforts of both physical education and kinesiology faculty and students to passionately pursue the study and practices of health, fitness, and human performance.”

–Ralph A. Vernacchia, Ph.D., Faculty

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the program participate in field or internship experiences, but also have the opportunity to make connections with peers and professionals through the Kin Club. The Kinesiology Club is devoted to helping students prepare for future careers by creating friendships, developing leadership skills, participating in events, interacting with health-care and fitness professionals, and learning how to become competitive candidates for careers and graduate schooling.

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

 

Sample Careers

  • Athletic Coaching 
  • Wellness Coordinator 
  • Health Club Manager 
  • Personal Trainer 
  • Pharmaceutical Drug Sales 
  • Biomedical Research &/or Sales 
  • Fitness Product Sales 
  • Athletic Trainer* 

*with post-baccalaureate study

Department of Health and Human Development - Kinesiology

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