Imagine having the ability to analyze the dynamics of a hostile mob, track patterns in corporate downsizing, explore how people express emotions, or study the effects of cultural difference on problems of peace and war. Sociology is the scientific study of social life. It is the exploration of social change and a lens into the complexity of the causes and consequences of human behavior.
The sociological journey often begins with posing a question or a hypothesis, which is then answered or tested using theoretical frameworks and scientific research methods. These methods include approaches such as statistical analysis, survey research, ethnography, conversational analysis, and content analysis.
Sociologists study a broad array of topics including the family, crime, health, politics, race, gender, and social class. The results of sociological investigations help develop new theories and inform social policy, programs, and laws. Sociologists who become experts in their field are a first point of reference for inquiries as to what is going on in the world and, more importantly, why and how?
* Above information excerpted verbatim from “Sociology: A 21st Century Major,” American Sociological Association www.asanet.org
Sociology at WCU
The B.A. in Sociology focuses on understanding the processes involved in the creation, maintenance, and evolution of social structure, and on the impact of diverse structural forms on individual behavior.
Sociology majors and minors at West Chester University benefit from the breadth of faculty specializations. Strengths of the department include research methods and theory; social stratification and inequality; deviance and crime; culture, mass media, and technology; work and organizations; and health, environment, immigration, and gerontology. Department course offerings reflect these interests, and sociology majors graduate with extensive knowledge spanning the discipline. Students who wish to focus on a particular area within the discipline may work closely with faculty members through independent studies and collaborative research projects. This has resulted in student-authored conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal publications. Opportunities for learning extend outside the classroom through service learning, community-based research, and faculty-led study abroad trips. Sociology majors graduate from the university with tangible skills, enabling them to successfully begin careers or further their expertise in graduate school.
A sociology degree provides students with a strong liberal arts background, opening up a number of career possibilities. Graduates possess the knowledge and skills that enables them to conduct research and analyze data, communicate effectively, think critically, and implement a global perspective. These skills help our graduates succeed in career fields such as social science research, public service, program support, gerontology, business and media management, education and advocacy, sales and marketing, public health, and social work (see Sociology Career Pathways at right for our alumni's most-common careers). Further, students may choose to continue their education by seeking an advanced degree in graduate school. Through discussion with academic advisors, sociology majors can tailor their studies to their career goals, optimizing opportunities for success.
The Sociology Club is an SGA-funded student organization open to all students interested in sociology, including but not limited to majors and minors. The club engages students in topical sociological issues on campus, in the West Chester community, and across the region, nation, and world. Activities include panel discussions, faculty-led research talks, trips to Philadelphia museums and landmarks, and community engagement and service. Sociology Club members have bolstered their academic accomplishments by presenting student-authored research at state, regional, and national conferences, including the Pennsylvania Sociological Society, Eastern Sociological Society, and Sociologists for Women in Society. Sociology Club meets regularly throughout the academic year in the Old Library building. Students interested in the club should contact the faculty advisor, Dr. Aliza Richman.
Alpha Kappa Delta
The department has a local chapter ofAlpha Kappa Delta (AKD), the International Sociology Honor Society. Founded in 1920, AKD seeks to acknowledge and promote excellence in sociological scholarship, the research of social problems, and the promotion of social and intellectual activities that lead to improvements in the human condition. The society’s name represents the first three letters of three Greek words: anthropon (humankind), katamanthanein (to investigate thoroughly or to conduct research) and diakonesein (for the purpose of service). There are more than 600 chapters of the Society and more than 97,000 lifetime members. Membership is an earned honor limited to undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated a serious interest in sociology and maintained a record of high academic achievement. To be eligible for WCU’s Tau Chapter of AKD, students must have at least junior standing, an overall GPA of at least 3.3 and a GPA in sociology courses of at least 3.0, and taken at least four sociology courses at WCU. Students interested should contact the chapter representative and faculty advisor, Dr. Julie Wiest.