The A.B. concentration in Sociology provides a broad liberal arts education focusing on critical thinking and analysis and excellence in written and oral communication. Students who concentrate in Sociology develop a set of analytical skills and understanding of theoretical concepts that will help them critique social issues and consider ways to address social problems. These skills and concepts include:
- A basic knowledge of statistics and their use for understanding social inequalities and for the design of social policies.
- A basic knowledge of research techniques for the collection and interpretation of data.
- A deep analytical knowledge of the major social and political issues of our time.
- Students can elect broad sociological training, but construct an individualized program of study within that training to suit their own intellectual and personal goals. They can also focus on one of five special areas of study: Diversity and Inequality, The Individual and the Social Order, Globalization and Development, Social Policy, or Research Methods.
A total of ten courses are required to fulfill the concentration in Sociology:
Five required courses:
- One introductory level course to be selected from SOC 0010 – Perspectives on Society, or SOC 0020 – Perspectives on Social Interaction, or SOC 0130 – The American Heritage: Democracy, Inequality, and Public Policy.
- Sociology 1010 Sociological Theory
- Sociology 1020 Research Methods
- Sociology 1100 Introductory Statistics for Social Research
- Sociology 1950 Senior Seminar (this is a capstone seminar)
Five elective courses:
- At least three of the optional courses have to be 1000 level courses and one of them a senior seminar.
- Students can choose to take up to two (showcase) lower level (0100 level) courses.
- Students can petition to take a course outside of the concentration (this will be allowed only when the proposed course makes sense given the interests of the student, and there is no equivalent sociology course).
The Capstone Experience
Sociology requires all concentrators to conduct a capstone project in their senior year. The purpose of the capstone project is to allow students an opportunity to apply the knowledge they acquired on a project of their own interests. This capstone project provides a hands on experience through which students learn what can be done with Sociology. To fulfill the capstone requirement students have to take SOC 1950 – Senior Seminar during the senior year. Participation in this seminar allows each cohort of concentrators to discuss their diverse interests and exposes them to the wide range of applications of Sociological knowledge. The capstone project can take many forms, including honors theses, and other traditional and alternative projects as described below.
The capstone project can be a one semester research paper on a topic of your interest. Alternatively, you can design a different type of independent project. Below is a list of suggestions for possible capstone projects.
- Doing a one semester research project on a topic of interest.
- Working with a faculty member in an Odyssey program to design a new course.
- Producing a video ethnography on a topic of your interest.
- Assisting in organizing an academic conference.
- Producing a photographic exhibit on a sociological issue.
- Interning in a community or private sector organization or a policy agency and reflecting sociologically on your experience.
- Using sociological analysis to write Engaging in public sociology, using sociological analysis to write journalistic articles and op-ed pieces or an internal evaluation or a policy report for an organization.
You should decide your capstone project in consultation with the concentration advisor and the instructor of the Senior Seminar. You may also need to approach a specific faculty within the department to advise you on your project. At the beginning of your senior year you should file a written statement with the Concentration advisor describing your capstone project and listing your advisor for the project.
The honors program in Sociology offers an excellent opportunity for students who seek to pursue independent and original research during their senior year. Acceptance into the honors program requires a grade of “A” in at least one half of all sociology courses. Honors students must write a thesis under the guidance of two sociology faculty members, an advisor and a reader. In addition, they must enroll in SOC 1950 (Senior Seminar) and SOC 1980 and 1990 (Senior Honors Thesis) in order to develop the substantive integration of the concentration studies, and to prepare the thesis (with the advisor’s consent, students may substitute other courses for those listed above).
Sociology concentrators have addressed a wide variety of important topics in their honors theses including the effects of poverty on young mother’s education, the analysis of the power of polluters, and the study of the use of condoms among urban youth in Kenya. From the struggle to matter of Korean comfort women through the study of black identity to perspectives on the female body, sociology concentrators deal with central problems in contemporary social and political life. The list of honors theses from the past few years demonstrates this range:
- How Does a Family's Socioeconomic Status Affect How a Child in that Family Participates in the Classroom? by Lindsay Priam
- What Do the Millennials Think of Marriage and the Family? by Abigail Schreiber
- Pervasive Effects of Poverty on Young Mothers’ Educational Achievement in New York City Schools by Hannah Wohl
- Dimensions of Poverty and Inconsistent Condom Use among Youth in Urban Kenya by Alena Davidoff-Gore
- Which Parent Matters More? An Analysis of the Importance of Parental Education to the Educational Attainment of Sons and Daughters by Saskia R. DeVries
- The Power of Polluters: A look at Why a Few Facilities Dominate the Production of Pollution by Kirsten B. Howard
- Silenced Pain: The Korean Comfort Women’s Struggle to Matter by Soyoung Park
- Brown Students’ Evaluations of the Brown University Police: A Case Study by Joshua D.R. Unseth
- Black Ambivalence Reconsidered by Dzigbodi Agbenyadzie
- Militants in Democracies: How Armed Insurgencies Persist in the Democratic System by Rukmini Girdharadas
- Representations of Africans in Film: The Case of Health by Thalia Julme
- The Authority of the Ulama in the NWFP: A Study of the Madrassa Institution by Sameer Sami Khan
- A Multiracial Perspective on Female Body Image by Shelley Li Lei
- Exercise and the Self: A Study of Gym Attendance Among Adult Males and Its Relation to Self-Esteem, Social Anxiety, and Internalized Homophobia by Chase C. Rolls