Department Mission and Student Learning Outcomes

Department Mission and Student Learning Outcomes

The faculty of the Department of Sociology agreed on the following statement of its mission, goals, and learning outcomes:

The Sociology Department seeks to develop in students the sociological knowledge and skills that will enable them to think critically and imaginatively about society and social issues. Through coursework, internships, independent studies and collaborative research with faculty, the Department encourages a commitment to social justice based on an appreciation of social and intellectual diversity and an awareness of social inequality.

The major in sociology is intended to serve as preparation for careers in teaching, delivery and administration of social and health services, urban and environmental studies, law, government service at local, state and federal levels and related occupations. The major also provides training for advanced graduate work in sociology, social work and other social sciences. Sociology is also recommended as a second major or minor for students of all other social sciences; for business; for the humanities; especially literature and theatre arts; for ethnic and area studies; for journalism and other various applied arts and sciences.


The following learning goals and outcomes identify the means by which the preceding general statements of purpose are to be accomplished.

  • Identify and apply sociological concepts and theories to understand social phenomena. Employ the sociological imagination and use evidence-based social theories to analyze social problems in context, and to generate and evaluate solutions.
  • Critically evaluate explanations of human behavior, social phenomena, and social processes locally and globally. Identify and assess the assumptions underlying different theoretical perspectives. Evaluate and respond to inequalities and emerge from a global, integrated, and unequal world.
  • Identify how social structures create and reproduce different forms of social inequality, locally and globally. Understand how social structures reproduce themselves, as well as how patterns and processes of cultural, socio-political and economic change occur. Analyze the origins, mechanisms, consequences, and response to global systems and flow, and their implications for society.
  • Apply social scientific principles to understand the social world. Articulate the effective use of evidence; generate research questions and/or hypothesis based on social research. Identify the limits of the scientific method in understanding social behavior and processes. 
  • Evaluate the quality of social scientific data. Identify the characteristics of high quality data in sociological research, and evaluate multiple representations of data in public discourse.
  • Rigorously analyze social scientific data. Demonstrate the ability to understand, interpret, and analyze qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Communicate in a clear and coherent manner in both written and oral communication. Convey sociological concepts and understandings to a broader audience.
  • Use sociological knowledge to inform public understanding and policy debates. Use sociological knowledge, skills, and theories to engage with the world around them, and to promote social justice


    Sociology students are required to take two “core” courses in the areas of Social Inequality and Social Change and Global Perspectives in the major.  

    The following learning goals and objectives apply to these areas of study.


    Social Inequality and Social Change

    Reflexivity and Perspective Taking: Students will have opportunities to reflect upon and analyze their own experiences in relation to taken-for-granted assumptions about social categories such as race, class, and gender. Through engagement with varying perspectives, students will gain insights into the ways that social, cultural, political, economic, and scientific institutions are experienced by people in relation to the ways they are marked by, and identify with, multiple social categories. Throughout this process, students will examine the socio-historical construction of social categories, and learn to critically analyze the historical and contemporary reproduction of structural inequality in relation to those categories.

    • Understand that individuals do not live single-category lives.
    • Examine taken for granted assumptions about social categories (e.g. race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, citizenship status, etc.)
    • Analyze their own perspectives, and recognize perspectives that are different from their own.

    Structural Inequality and Change: Students will develop an analysis of power and oppression in the United States. They will learn to identify structural inequalities, along with the historical and contemporary institutions, policies, practices, and ideologies that reinforce and/or undermine them. Through this examination students will gain understanding of the structural, historical, cultural, and social contexts of social inequalities— as well the processes through which social movements, activists, and other agents of social change respond to these inequalities.

    • Apply sociological theories and concepts of social inequality and change.
    • Understand how systems of power and inequality operate in society.
    • Analyze the political, economic, and social conditions that reinforce and reproduce inequalities.

    Praxis and Social Justice: Praxis refers to the application of theories in service of practical action. Students will demonstrate their abilities to critically examine inequality and social change through an intersectional lens in order to:

    • Evaluate how and why social movements, activists and other agents of social change respond to social inequalities.
    • Formulate strategies for resisting inequality through application of knowledge and skills developed in this core requirement.
    • Recognize the implications of social change at multiple levels of oppression and empowerment.


    Global Perspectives

     Taking a Global Perspective: Students will learn from and interact with perspectives and experiences different from their own. The goal is to develop an integrated engagement with a systemic understanding of the interrelationship among the self, local and global communities, and the natural and the material world.  By connecting their personal biographies to global histories, students will:

    • Develop an awareness of the cultural diversities in our global society.
    • Identify personal biographies in relation to global histories.
    • Evaluate and apply diverse perspectives to complex subjects in the face of multiple and even conflicting positions.

    Global Systems and Structures: Students will understand the complex and overlapping worldwide systems, including human and ecological systems, which operate in observable patterns and often are affected by or are the result of human design or disruption. As a result, students will be able to:

    • Identify the role of institutions, ideas, and processes that create, maintain, and reinforce global inequality.
    • Understand the historical context of contemporary globalization, and critically analyze the complex and interconnected nature of global processes and local impacts.
    • Analyze major elements of global systems to evaluate solutions to complex problems.

    Global Knowledge Application: Students will be able to recognize their own agency in relation to society—locally, nationally, and globally. In order to develop sociological competency and commitment towards a social justice-based application of their global knowledge for social action and change, students will:

    • Apply theoretical and methodological frameworks to navigate and engage in social change.
    • Apply knowledge and skills to implement sophisticated, appropriate, and workable solutions to address complex global problems.