The Department of Sociology offers a broad range of courses leading to a bachelor of arts with a major in sociology. Social work, crime and justice, and identity studies minors are options for students majoring in any discipline. Each year, our graduates go into a variety of careers and graduate programs in the social sciences, human services, education, the legal professions, criminal justice, government, business and communications. The department places a strong emphasis upon developing skills in interpretation, writing, research and data analysis that are broadly transferable among many professional vocations. Many sociology courses are taught in an interactive format, in which student contributions are central to class sessions. Subjects include gender and sexuality studies, food politics, criminology, inequality, family, race and ethnicity, social theory, and both quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis. The program features a balanced emphasis upon theoretical issues and practical skills; a senior practicum that is very flexible, with a strong reputation in local and regional organizations; and a curriculum structure that invites our majors to consider minors in related disciplines and opportunities for study abroad.
Sociology,Bachelor of Arts - Major
Crime and Justice,Minor
Leadership and Community Engagement,Minor
Race and Ethnic Studies,Concentration
Introduction to the sociological imagination, with a critical examination of social issues, individual experiences, and the potential for social change. Topics include the nature and impact of culture and social structure, inequality, social institutions, identity, social interaction, and the historical context of knowledge and relationships. Methods of sociological investigation and interpretation are also emphasized. This course is offered in traditional survey and special topics formats. FILA general education: social sciences.
Introduction to the discipline of anthropology, including the four major subfields: archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. The historical and geographical spread of culture are reviewed; the impact of urbanization, industrialization, and technology on the nature and quality of human life are examined; along with key questions about human diversity. FILA general education: world cultures. (Credit may not be received for both SOC-201 and SOC-202).
Focused on the cultural branch of anthropology, topics include how the different contexts in which humans live have produced variations in belief, food, dress, music, kinship, gender, visual aesthetics, language, and other cultural aspects of ordinary life. Also introduces ethnography, an anthropological way of doing research and writing, in order to understand cultural difference. FILA general education: world cultures. (Credit may not be received for both SOC-201 and SOC-202)
Interdisciplinary exploration of the power and dynamics of human similarities and differences on a global scale. Covers globalization from the perspective of identity and difference, and provides opportunities to question contemporary assumptions, values and patterns of behavior with the goal of making global interactions more constructive and more peaceful. FILA general education: global dynamics. (Cross-listed as PSCI-205)
An introduction to a variety of political, ethical and social justice issues surrounding local, national and global food systems. It includes discussions of food policy, food security, food waste, food and farm workers' rights, and the environmental impact and sustainability of our current food production systems. FILA general education: global dynamics and ethical reasoning.
An introduction to community and civic engagement. Includes a history of the study of communities, sources of solidarity, civic engagement, and community activism. Provides an overview of a variety of civic-minded organizations and institutions such as community non-profit organizations, cooperatives, religious institutions, and local government. Additionally, students will be introduced to social entrepreneurship, and will learn how individuals and organizations develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. FILA general education: ethical reasoning.
Examination of theories pertaining to the causes of crime and treatment of offenders. Theories of violent and property crimes (including "white-collar" crimes) are explored. Critical analysis of the social, political and cultural context of the justice system in the United States of America, with a special emphasis on questions of justice, fairness and equality are also undertaken.
Survey of identity-related issues and questions on college campuses today. Topics include college financing and student debt; race/ethnic relations and diversity initiatives; gender/sexuality violence and campus safety; and free speech and activism.
Examines how jazz music has mirrored the social history of the American people, reflecting ethnic and racial influences, historic events, and cultural change. Examines the history, styles and techniques of American jazz through lecture, audio and video recordings, and live demonstrations. Increases the appreciation and enjoyment of jazz. FILA general education: fine arts and music. (Cross-listed as MUS-233)
An overview of the development of social work as a profession with an introduction to the various settings in which social work is practiced. Helping skills such as attending, reflecting, clarifying, empathizing, supporting, examining feedback, confronting, and facilitating group process are addressed. Particular emphasis will be placed on the value orientation and ethical code of the profession, as well as legal issues facing both practitioners and clients. Twenty hours of community service is a component of this course.
Traces the origins and development of current social welfare institutions and illuminates the philosophical and ethical considerations undergirding social policy while considering the merits and deficits of current social services. While a primary focus is on the political, economic, and social context of the American welfare system, cross-cultural comparisons will also be considered. FILA general education: ethical reasoning and experiential learning.
The study of the behavior of individuals in small groups with a focus on the development of interpersonal communication skills. Topics include facilitation, leadership styles, decision making, problem solving, and mediation. Attention will be directed at how groups form and change over time; how conflict occurs and is managed; how roles and norms develop; and the nature of power, conformity and deviance in groups. The relevance of this work to applied settings will also be discussed.
Survey of classical and contemporary sociological theory, including the works of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel and others.
Survey of contemporary sociological theory, including the works of Erving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel, The Frankfurt School, Bourdieu and others. FILA general education: writing intensive.
Analysis of juvenile crime and its connections to family structures, peer groups and the educational system, as well as gender, race and class. Trends in juvenile corrections are examined along with current debates on reform. Special topics include gangs, juvenile detention, probation, child advocates, waiver to adult courts and hospitalization. Offered alternate years.
Investigation of the interaction between gender and social control in the United States and cross-culturally. The gendered nature of criminal activity is examined empirically and theoretically. The justice system, including the correctional treatment of men and women, is examined. Offered alternate years.
Comparative study of justice systems derived from major legal traditions. The development and application of these systems is examined, with an emphasis on historical trends and social forces that shape them. Comparative themes include the role of political power, public perceptions, systems of morality, constructions of guilt, and corrections philosophies. Offered alternate years.
Examines perceptions of security and danger in America since the early 20th century and their effect on the balance between public safety and individual liberty. Examples include organized crime, labor conflict, the communist threat, youth gangs, drugs and terrorism. The role of "moral entrepreneurs," special interest groups, mass media, intelligence and surveillance, and political manipulation are explored. The balance of public safety and individual liberty is central to exploration throughout the course. Offered alternate years.
Analysis of sociological issues, including class conflict, race/ethnic relations, and gender/sexuality identities, through examination of true crime journalism across its wide variety of media formats (books, documentary film, podcasts, etc.). Includes critical examination of the genre's increased popularity and democratization through the expansion of social media, with a particular emphasis on the ethical implications, cultural consequences, and political possibilities emerging from these developments. Features weekly in-class direct engagement (including film screenings, podcast listening parties, book readings, etc.) with timely/relevant examples of the genre as well as facilitated public discourse/seminar discussions. FILA general education: ethical reasoning.
Investigation of the practical, theoretical, and ethical issues involved in interpretive, field-based research. Specific research methods addressed include participant observation, interviews, action research, case studies, multimedia analysis and ethnography. Hands-on experience includes students developing and conducting original field research projects.
Scientific methods and their application in the study of social phenomena, with an emphasis upon survey research. Topics include the relation between theory and research, defining and operationalizing a research problem, questionnaire construction, research design alternatives, sampling, measurement, and elementary data analysis and reporting utilizing the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).
The application of scientific research methods to specific research problems. Various measurement, scaling, and statistical techniques are utilized to address research problems defined by the students. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) is used to analyze data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and other existing data sets. The course culminates in a major research paper that is presented in oral and written form.
Introduction to a diverse set of perspectives on culture and society using movies as a medium. Important lenses in cultural studies including critical theory, postmodernism, postcolonial theory, feminism/critical race theory, and psychoanalysis are introduced through "textual" examination of 21st-century films across the global landscape. This is less a film class than a survey of major contemporary theories in the humanities and social sciences. Highly recommended for students considering graduate studies in the humanities or social sciences, or for anyone interested in developing a critical viewpoint on films and culture in general. Students should be prepared to view challenging films that may depict violence, sexual situations, substance abuse and/or strong language. FILA general education: global dynamics.
Examination of the sociological implications of the Zombie film genre, with emphasis on how the films may reflect cultural tensions between individualism and community, declining trust in government and other civic institutions, and the pervasiveness and influence of apocalyptic and millennial visions in American culture. Seminar discussion and analytic writing cultivate students' ability interpret this cultural phenomenon as well as others, more generally.
The nature of racial relations and inequalities in American society, including their historical origins and relationship to Western capitalist development. The ethnic composition of contemporary American society, impact of legal and illegal immigration patterns, dynamics of modern structures and institutions, the Civil Rights Movement, inter-ethnic conflicts and attitudes, multiculturalism and status of affirmative action are analyzed in the context of national and global social change. FILA general education: global dynamics.
Introduction to a variety of conceptual frameworks and theoretical lenses relating to human gender and sexualities, including social constructionism, political economy, and cultural studies. A critical, global, historical, and sociological approach will be emphasized to unpack gendered ad sexualized social structures like patriarchy, heterosexism, and hegemonic masculinity. Special attention will be paid to social movements and challenges to power/resource inequalities made by gender and sexuality-based minority groups. FILA general education: global dynamics. Offered alternate years.
Examination of the growing ethnic diversity in the Shenandoah Valley through study of contemporary theories and research on immigration. Hands-on field experience includes first-hand interaction with local immigrants and is particularly beneficial for students seeking Spanish language, intercultural, and/or service-learning experience. FILA general education: global dynamics. Offered alternate years.
How various immigrant groups in New York City have negotiated their traditional food cultures upon arrival in the United States. The first three days of the course will be spent on the Bridgewater College campus followed by five days in New York City being guided to various ethnic immigrant communities around the city and outer boroughs to explore restaurants, community centers, food markets and historic and culturally significant sites, as well as to meet community members involved in preserving the group's traditional food culture. FILA general education: global dynamics and experiential learning.
Examines the various food systems in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, including organic farms, various types of co-ops, industrial and small-scale poultry operations, industrial and organic vegetable and herb farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations, small-scale and industrial dairy operations, and farm-to-table restaurants. Through on-site visits, readings, and classroom discussion, students study a wide range of factors that make up each local food system, including issues pertaining to sustainability, land and resource usage, workers' rights, and the benefits of and challenges faced by these systems. FILA general education: experiential learning.
Introduces students to techniques for examination of objects and artifacts through the study of important texts, hands-on experience, on-site visits to museums, buildings and cultural landscapes. Topics include vernacular architecture, cultural geography, popular design, technology, folk life and archaeology. FILA general education: experiential learning.
An exploration of various regional food cultures of Italy. Particular emphasis will be placed on the production, distribution, and consumption of food, both historically and in the present, with attention to issues of sustainability and food justice in Italy. The first few days of the course will be spent on the Bridgewater College campus followed by ten to twelve days in Italy. In addition to a study of the food cultures of the region, students will have opportunities to explore significant historical and cultural sites in the area. FILA general education: experiential learning.
An examination of patterns of social stratification and important theories of the class structure. Emphasis is placed upon analysis of the American class system and major research in the field.
Dilemmas, tensions, and theoretical and policy issues related to the position of Third World countries in the modern world. Questions of urbanization, industrialization, modernization, westernization, and distribution of economic resources are discussed. Various theories of development and underdevelopment are critically examined. FILA general education: global dynamics.
A sociological exploration of the Caribbean with Jamaica as the case study. The course examines the political, economic, and social aspects of Jamaica in the context of the Caribbean region and in comparison with the rest of the world. Jamaican history, language, race, social class, ethnicity, and the impact of the tourist industry are explored.
An historical and cultural study of Japan, with particular attention to religion, government, and the arts. Consideration is given to daily life in Japan and current problems and changes. FILA general education: world cultures.
Sociological exploration of how geography, climate, colonial history, rural economic development, urbanization, democratization, tribal cleavage and affiliation influence the culture, language, politics, tourism, racial and ethnic relations, education, and family structure of Zambia. As a case study of the African continent, Zambia is used to investigate contemporary African challenges. A 12-day field trip to Zambia focuses on visiting the capital city of Lusaka, the University of Zambia, Nkhanga Rural Region Village Library of Lundazi District of Eastern Zambia, the Victoria Falls, and the Luangwa Game Park.
The racial, social, and cultural history of Africa in ancient and modern times. Attention is given to the impact of urbanization and to African responses to Western values and institutions as carried to the continent by the Colonial powers. Contemporary political and socioeconomic trends and problems. FILA general education: world cultures.
Examination of how society supports, controls and constrains our arrival into and departure from the world, revealing the ways that events often assumed to be "natural" are in fact conditioned by social and cultural forces. Special emphasis on the communication of cultural norms regarding birth and death, the impact of advances in medicine and technology, and how birth and death become cultural metaphors for other social phenomena. The course includes an interfaith studies component focused on Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Native American death rituals. FILA general education: ethical reasoning.
Broad introduction to the field, familiarizes students with conflict and practical approaches to its transformation. Personal communication and conflict styles, negotiation skills, interpersonal mediation, and facilitation of group decision-making and problem-solving strategies are examined. Participation in discussions, exercises, analyses, role-plays and simulations frame the course. In addition to the regularly scheduled meeting times, one Saturday session is included. (Cross-listed as PHIL-367)
Examination of the human family historically and comparatively in various cultures with major emphasis placed upon the modern American family. Included are such topics as the diversity of family structures, the social construction of emotions, gender expectations and roles, parenting, the life cycle, and family tensions. FILA general education: writing intensive. (Cross-listed as FCS-368W)
Explores the genesis of the American militia movement and its current incarnations, employing sociological theories of culture, ideology, social movements, and cultural change to examine the movement and the ways in which it yields insights into some crucial questions about our society ad our social ideals: how we define citizenship, community, and nation; how members of social movements and subcultures create insider-outsider distinctions between themselves and non-members; and the cultural values and symbols upon which social movements draw in order to communicate a vision of America as they see it and as they believe it should be.
Examination of religion as a powerful force of social cohesion, order, meaning and change in human societies. Special attention will be given to why people are religious or not religious; the growth and decline of religious organizations; religious conversion and loss of faith; the impact of modernity on religion and religious belief, especially among young and emerging adults. The social context in which various religious communities exist and how they shape and are being shaped by their social context will also be investigated. FILA general education: ethical reasoning.
Senior capstone course offering action-based research with the local community. Students engage both community and social change literature. Topics will vary depending on student interest. FILA general education: experiential learning.
Critical evaluation of structures of adjudication, sentencing and corrections in the United States. Includes an examination of alternative approaches to justice and reconciliation, such as community-based rehabilitation, victim/offender conflict mediation, et. Various strategies for community reintegration are also explored.
This capstone seminar for the Identity Studies minor offers students the opportunity to engage with identity-related issues/questions in an applied manner through participation in a variety of relevant public events on- and off-campus as well as critical reading of relevant theoretical texts. Additionally, students synthesize their Identity Studies coursework by working in groups on semester-long projects that they present to the campus community. These projects involve research on ethical questions/issues related to their post-graduate professional ambitions. They also facilitate students applying the various ethical frameworks discussed in course readings (including Marxist, critical race, and feminist perspectives) as well as their experiences at weekly class outings to interrogate and articulate their normative orientations on their chosen topic. FILA general education: ethical reasoning and experiential learning.
A survey of the concepts and practices of the major contemporary therapeutic (theory) systems used in the helping professions. Primary focus is placed on helping approaches and the various frameworks or understanding change and motivation to change. Goal setting, decision making, self-awareness, learning one's own helping strengths and limitations, and referral techniques are also included.
Provides an opportunity for a student to gain field experience in an area related to the student's program of study or career goals. The learning objectives for internships include connecting academic knowledge and problem-solving processes to experiences and problems in professional settings. Supervision of an intern is provided by an appropriate faculty member and by a site supervisor of the agency or business in which the student is an intern. A student who wishes to engage in an internship must consult with the appropriate faculty member at least eight weeks in advance of the start of the term in which the internship is to be completed. A description of the internship, signed by the student and the faculty sponsor, must be filed with the director of internships by the first day of the semester prior to the start of the internship. Approval of each application for an internship is made by the director of internships based upon approved policies and guidelines. Internships are graded on an S or U basis. Students must complete 120 hours of internship-related work as well as weekly journal entries and a final reflective paper completed in accordance with approved requirements. A student may enroll in an internship program for 3 credits per semester, and internship credit may be earned in subsequent semesters subject to the limitations that no more than two internships may be pursued in any one agency or business and a maximum of 9 credits in internships may be applied toward graduation. FILA general education: experiential learning.
Provides social work experience through placement in a human service agency. Placement may be arranged for 12 weeks of a full-time experience during the normal semester or on a part-time basis for three credits. The experience is under careful supervision of both the agency and the Sociology department. The student's interest influences the choice of an agency. 120 hours of participation are required for three credits and 480 hours are required for 12 credits. FILA general education: experiential learning.
This independent study may only be taken by those students who are concurrently enrolled in SOC-481X: Field Experience in Social Welfare. In conjunction with the fieldwork placement, provides an advanced forum to discuss the social work profession. Implications of the Social Work Code of Ethics on professional conduct, as well as the inter-agency approaches to social work and social welfare are explored.
Capstone course for the Crime and Justice minor. Students gain direct experience with the field in agencies of law enforcement, courts or law firms, and corrective/rehabilitation/community restoration. The practicum requires 120 hours of field participation over the semester, weekly journals and a final substantive, scholarly paper. FILA general education: experiential learning.
The professional practicum is taught on-site at the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy (CSCJTA) in Weyers Cave during the January-May sessions. The practicum offers students an opportunity to gain training and acquire professional certification in law enforcement. The training consists of approximately 990 hours of classroom and practical instruction over 18 weeks. In addition to evaluation and testing conducted by CSCJTA, students will complete a substantive paper integrating their experience with the scholarly literature and knowledge acquired through other coursework. Requires a 2.0 GPA or above and must be arranged at least one semester in advance with successful completion of CSCJTA screening and admissions. FILA general education: experiential learning.