Sociology

Major
Bachelor of Arts
Behavioral & Social Sciences
 

Sociology often uncovers the hidden aspects of our world, and topics of investigation span a huge range from air pollution and punk rock to homicide, friendship and cooperation

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

Sociology is a social science that examines the structures and organizational patterns of social groups and the theories about them. It is a systematic approach to the behavior of societies or groups, what makes them what they are, what holds them together and what destroys them. Often, a sociological perspective is surprising and can challenge our ordinary assumptions of how the world works. Sociology’s subject matter is wonderfully broad—anything about social life one is interested in can be (and likely has been) studied by sociologists.

THE PROGRAM

The Sociology program has three tracks: the Standard Major, the Criminal Justice Emphasis and the Environmental Management Emphasis. The Standard Major exposes students to many intriguing topics like drugs, medicine, family relationships, culture, friendship, poverty and wealth, the criminal justice system, and deviance. Students also examine social inequalities (race, class, gender and sexuality), notable subcultures and important social movements that reflect the richness of social life. Criminal Justice students take many of these courses in addition to ones specific to crime, corrections, and law enforcement. For more information on the Criminal Justice emphasis, view its individual fact sheet. The Environmental Management Emphasis is for students who intend to enroll in the Master in Environmental Management 3+2 program.

CAREERS

Sociology graduates can pursue a variety of careers, including:

  • Early Childhood (education,
  • services, childcare)
  • Correctional Officer or Counselor
  • Community Health
  • Market Research
  • Social/Human Services
  • Rural Health Outreach
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Probation/Parole Officer
  • Crime Analyst
  • Juvenile Court Specialist
  • Drug Abuse Prevention Coordinator
  • City Councilor or County Commissioner
  • Housing/Student Life at College or University

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

Our friendly faculty would love to hear from you.

Greg Haase, Ph.D.
Jackie Gabriel, Ph.D.
Matt Aronson, Ph.D.
Cindy Whitney, Ph.D.

Opportunities

OPPORTUNITIES

  • SOCIOLOGY CLUB: A student organization meant to engage students in academic and social activities outside of the classroom.

  • ALPHA KAPPA DELTA: A society of scholars (undergrad, graduate and professional) that promotes excellence in sociology, conducts research on social problems and involves itself in other activities which attempt to improve the human condition.

  • UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH CONFERENCE: A regional conference (sometimes hosted here at Western) where students present their own research in a professional setting.

Profiles

Brad Archer
“It’s the relationships between students and teachers that keeps people here.”
Rachael Sandhagen-Turner
Honors student double-majoring in Psychology and Sociology, President of Psi Chi Honor Society, SGA, Active Minds, tutor at Gunnison Middle School, and so much more!
Laura Miess
Orientation Coordinator, First Year Experience Committee, Semester-at-Sea Program, Symphony Band & Saxophone Quartet, Active Minds member
Barry Clifford and Crew
"I’d go way out there to explore old mines. ... It really got my exploration juices going."
Rebecca and Quinn Bryant
'When we arrived at Western in 2011, people accepted us as we were: two people attempting to navigate life’s chaos.'

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Matt Aronson headshot
Assistant Professor of Sociology
B.A., University of Montana (Native American Studies and Sociology), M.A., Colorado State University (Sociology), Ph.D., Colorado State University (Sociology)
Phone: 970.943.7126
Office Location: Kelley Hall 220
Dr. Kate Clark headshot
Director of Undergraduate Environment and Sustainability Program; Graduate Faculty in Master in Environmental Management programs, Environment and Sustainability and Sociology programs
B.A., James Madison University, M.S. University of Colorado Boulder, Ph.D. Environmental Studies University of Colorado Boulder
Phone:
Office Location: Kelley Hall 146
Dr. Jackie Gabriel headshot
Assistant Professor of Sociology
B.A., University of Iowa, Sociolgy, M.A., University of Nebraska at Omaha, Sociolgy , Ph.D., Colorado State University, Sociology and International Political Economy
Phone: 970.943.2289
Office Location: Kelley Hall 221
Greg P. Haase headshot
Chair, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology
B.A., Louisiana State University, M.A., Louisiana State University, Ph.D., Colorado State University
Phone: 970.943.2070
Office Location: Kelley Hall 218
Cindy Whitney headshot
Assistant Professor of Sociology
B.A., Adams State University, Sociology/Psychology with emphases in Criminology and Social Welfare, M.S., Mankato State University at Mankato, Sociology and Higher Education, Ph.D., Kansas State University, Criminology and Gender
Phone: 970.943.2059
Office Location: Kelley Hall 213

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 GEOG 340 - Introduction of Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)

An introduction to the concepts and techniques of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Topics covered include fundamentals of mapping, data formats, data acquisition, and quantitative analysis of spatial data. The laboratory component emphasizes practical applications of GIS to contemporary problems including but not limited to watershed analysis, land-use planning, environmental assessment, and market analysis. Prerequisites: GEOG 222 or GEOL 105; college-level mathematics requirement with a minimum grade of "C-"; junior standing or instructor permission.

 PSY 200 - Statistics and Data Analysis (3 credits)

An introduction to statistical procedures often encountered in the analysis of data from behavioral science research. Statistical methods covered include measures of central tendency and variability, correlation, regression, t-tests and analysis of variance. Prerequisites: PSY 100; MATH 113 or MATH 140 with a minimum grade of C-, or instructor permission.

 PSY 368 - Psychopathology (3 credits)

A systematic study of the etiology, symptoms, assessment, and treatment of major forms of psychopathology. An interdisciplinary approach is employed as a basis for understanding mental disorders and mental illness. Prerequisites: PSY 100, PSY 258, or PSY 270.

 SOC 101 - Introduction to Sociology (3 credits)

An introduction to the discipline of sociology with special emphasis on the unique perspective this science utilizes to examine the social world. Sociology is distinguished by its focus on understanding patterns of human behavior and emphasizing the social forces that shape and influence these patterns. Primary course focus is on culture, inequality, race and gender, and social institutions. This course serves as a 'gateway' course for all Sociology majors and minors, and must be passed with a minimum grade of 'C' to be used as a prerequisite. Prerequisite for all 200-, 300-, and 400-level Sociology courses.

 SOC 150 - Environmental Sociology (3 credits)

The sociological perspective is utilized to examine a variety of issues addressing the human-environment interface. In particular, this course examines how social organization and culture both shape and are shaped by the natural environment. The course focuses on issues of sustainability, the rights of the natural world, and environmental justice.

 SOC 168 - Social Problems (3 credits)

An introduction to the field of sociology through an analysis of social problems in the United States and in the world. Course focus is on topics such as drugs and alcohol abuse, crime and prisons, health and illness, hunger and poverty, resource depletion and pollution, and the effects of globalization.

 SOC 211 - Quantitive Research Methods (3 credits)

An introduction for students of the social sciences to the fundamentals of quantitative research analysis. Students design and administer surveys, code data, and analyze results. Students become familiar with descriptive statistics (frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, and dispersion), inferential statistics (sampling theory, hypothesis testing, normal binomial distributions, confidence intervals, and types of error), as well as techniques for computing correlation. Prerequisites: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of C; and MATH 113 or MATH 140.

 SOC 225 - Self and Society (3 credits)

An examination of how the discipline of sociology approaches Òmicro-levelÓ phenomenon. Emphasis is on the formation of the self, the socialization process, and the importance of language to social interaction. Beginning with the premise that social reality is a social construction which has been created through our interactions with others, the implications of this premise for the version of reality each of us experiences is explored. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒC.Ó

 SOC 259 - Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits)

An introduction to the history and contemporary issues of the criminal justice system (law enforcement, courts, and corrections) in the United States. Topics surveyed include the systemÀs history, constitutional limitations, philosophical background, and the systemÀs process. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 285 - Criminology (3 credits)

An introduction to the field of criminology with special emphasis on theories of crime, types of criminals, victimology, and the criminal justice system. Special topics examined include gangs, white collar crimes, property crimes, victimless crimes, and organized crime. Prerequisites: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ and SOC 259 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ.

 SOC 302 - Sociological Theory (3 credits)

A formal introduction to classical sociological theories relevant to the discipline. Students learn about the history of the discipline, identify major sociological theorists and their theories, learn how these theories can be applied to various historical and contemporary social issues, and discover the relationship between theory, research, ideology and everyday life. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 303 - Contemporary Sociological Theory (3 credits)

A formal introduction to sociological theories developed since World War II. Students are able to identify and describe recent sociological theories and apply theory to contemporary social phenomena as well as their individual experiences. Students recognize the relationship between theory, ideology, and daily life. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 310 - Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)

An examination of qualitative approaches to understanding social life. In particular, the course covers selecting a topic suitable for qualitative investigation, participant observation 220 Sociology and in depth interviewing techniques, the ethics and politics associated with doing qualitative research, writing up field notes, formulating topics, reviewing the literature around the topic, the analysis of field notes, and the writing of research reports. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of ÒC-Ó or above; SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒC.Ó

 SOC 320 - The Family (3 credits)

An analysis of the family as a social group and institution. Students consider the ways in which the family is influenced by demographic changes and by the changes in other social institutions, such as the economy, education, the state and religion. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 322 - Medical Sociology (3 credits)

An examination of the United States Health Care System and comparison of various components of this system with that of others. The allopathic (Western) medical model is also examined. The course emphasizes the mortality and morbidity trends and patterns which exist in the U.S., the problems facing our health care system (high costs, unequal access), and alternative models of health and disease. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 323 - Cultural Studies (3 credits)

A foundation in the sociology of culture as well as extensive analysis of selected regional, national and/or global (sub) cultures and their environments. Issues covered include the social organization of culture, institutions and narratives, material and non-material culture, and cultural identity and the self. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 340 - Social Movements (3 credits)

An introduction to the study of social movements with two goals in mind. First, is to expose students to the beliefs, practices, and consequences of a number of important historical, and contemporary movements. Second, the course familiarizes students with the theoretical perspectives, conceptual issues, focal questions, and empirical research that animate the study of social movements. This includes such issues as movement emergence, movement participation, mobilization dynamics, movement strategies and tactics, and movementoutcomes. Prerequisite: SOC 101 or ENVS 100 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 349 - Law Enforcement (3 credits)

An examination of issues affecting American law enforcement. Students are exposed to the historical underpinnings of the American policing experience, police operations and applications at the local, state, federal, and international levels, law enforcement subculture, police structure and organization, ethics, selection and training, and career opportunities. Prerequisite: SOC 259 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 350 - Deviance (3 credits)

Students examine various forms of nonconformity-criminal and otherwise. To do so, they study the major theoretical perspectives addressing deviance and its control. Students explore how ordinary rituals, agents of social control, and ideology interact to maintain the existing social order. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C".

 SOC 351 - Juvenile Delinquency (3 credits)

Biological, psychological, and sociological factors in juvenile delinquency are examined, as are modern trends in prevention and treatment. The course also addresses the procedural and substantive aspects of the juvenile justice system. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 355 - Drugs and Society (3 credits)

An examination of trends and patterns in American drug use, drug classificationschemes, the relationship between drugs and crime, and drug education and prevention strategies. The use of hallucinogenic plants in other cultures is also explored. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of "C."

 SOC 367 - Corrections (3 credits)

An in-depth look at corrections in the United States. Topics include history of corrections, jails, prisons, community corrections, offenders and inmates, women in corrections, juvenile corrections, correctional officers and treatment professionals, and special inmate populations. Prerequisites: SOC 101, SOC 259 and SOC 285 all with a minimum grade of ÒC.Ó

 SOC 380 - Social Inequalities (3 credits)

An examination of major theories and concepts associated with social inequality as well as the causes and consequence of social inequality. The historical and contemporary aspects of social inequality in the United States are explored. Forms of resistance to social inequality are also considered. Prerequisite: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of ÒCÓ.

 SOC 399 - Internship (1 to 6 credits)

Sociology internships provide Sociology majors of junior and senior status with opportunities to work on sites off campus in the areas of law enforcement and social services. The experience must meet standards set by the College and by the sociology faculty. Up to three hours of internship credit may be counted toward the major. Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory only.