Entrance to Wilson Short Hall.
The scientific study of social life
Sociology provides fundamental insight on social matters. Because our lives are affected by our place in the social world, the discipline seeks to understand the connection between people and society. Sociologists study and work across a broad range of issues—from inequality to health, from deviance to family, from work to gender and race. Few fields offer students opportunities of such breadth.

A Successful Start to 100 Years of Sociology

Our Sociology Centennial Celebration had a successful kick-off on September 27th with our wonderful guests, Dr. Lois DeFleur, Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach, Dr. Marilyn Ihinger-Tallman and Betty Winfield. We are looking forward to our upcoming event on October 25th to celebrate Don Dillman’s 55 years of service to the Department of Sociology. You can find more information about our calendar of events here.

Featured Undergraduate Courses

Growing Up and Growing Older (SOC 356)

How do societies define adulthood and old age? What does it mean for a society to have a very young or old population? This course provides a framework for understanding the interplay between the way we age and changing social structures of societies. The course explores how major institutions (e.g., employment, family, health care) shape the aging process; social inequalities and changes in life experiences that come with age; and how historical change creates differences between generations as well as how different generations propel societal change. We will examine social policies and practices that benefit population health in an aging society and personal well-being across the life course.    

Medical Sociology (SOC 334)

This course explores how long and how well we live, as a social process. Though we often reflect on the biological, physiological, and genetic conditions that contribute to our health and the length of our lives, we will examine evidence that suggests social conditions shape health and mortality prospects for all of us. Did you know that otherwise healthy widowers have significant increased risks of death especially in the first 12 months following the death of a spouse? Or, on average, that the most affluent Americans live 5 years longer than the most deprived? The course uses “the sociological imagination” to explore the role and meaning of medicine in modern U.S. society.

Medical Sociology is one of two foundational courses in the Health & Society Minor.

Featured Graduate Course

Rural Sociology (SOC 590)

Significant changes, ranging from employment to political preferences, are transforming rural America, with implications for all Americans. Three sociology faculty members, each with extensive backgrounds in the study of rural people and places, will combine their skills to teach Rural Sociology. Each will teach five weeks of Soc 590, Fall Semester 2023 in a coordinated effort to explore and explain the historical contexts, cultural norms, challenges, and social institutions that are unique to rural America.

Don Dillman will establish the historical settlement context that helps explains how the settlement and development of rural regions of the U.S. differed as the country transitioned through three eras of social organizations: community control, mass society and the information age. The long- term differences that settlement and geography made in rural movements and institutions, will also be discussed, drawing upon empirical research on rural communities and people from quite different sections of the U.S. (August 24- September 21)

Jenn Sherman will provide a contemporary treatment of rural economic changes and challenges, with an emphasis on rural poverty and inequalities of race, gender, and education. This work will draw in part on in-depth studies she has conducted in rural California and Washington. (September 28- October 26)

Dylan Bugden will provide a contemporary perspective on the growing rural-urban political divide. He will also discuss the dynamic relationship between rural communities and their rich natural resources by exploring extractive and energy industries, amenity migration, and agriculture in rural places. (November 2 – December 7)

This course is for graduate students with interest in understanding how people living and working in rural areas of the United States differ from their urban counterparts, and the consequences these differences have for influencing social problems and solutions, including laws and regulations of states and counties as well as the country as a whole. We hope this course will help students from graduate programs in various departments with particular interest in studying rural places, regardless of the disciplinal focus of their graduate study.

Experiential Learning

Take your education out of the classroom and into the world! Experiential learning opportunities and the capstone course help you apply your academic learning to effect change in communities and workplaces or get involved in hands-on research.