The mission of the Sociology Department involves three functions.
1. General Education - We offer a series of courses that illustrate to the student how to use the sociological perspective and tools for critical analysis to analyze both specific social issues (crime, race and ethnicity, for example), and general perspectives on society (introductory sociology, social problems). This is a significant function for us - 26 of 46 sections for Fall 1999 have G.E. status.
2. Sociology Major - We offer what might be viewed as a traditional major which requires 2 lower division prerequisites, 7 core courses (in methods, social stratification, social psychology and theory), and 5 electives in sociology. The major is designed to illustrate the sociological perspective, to help students develop skills in critical thinking, and to introduce and explain the tools of sociology. These skills will be beneficial for those who may seek jobs in sociology, and also for those who seek employment in human and social service occupations in the Sacramento region.
3. Graduate Program - We offer an MA degree in Sociology. Our intent is to introduce and explain higher level skills in theory, research, social psychology, and urban, family, social organization, and social stratification. Advanced research skills and knowledge of the discipline would prepare for a further advanced degree, higher level research positions, or teaching or employment in a variety of educational and human and social service organizations in the Sacramento region or elsewhere.
The sociology curriculum should contribute to the following learning goals for the typical student who receives a baccalaureate degree in sociology at CSUS:
- Help students understand the sources of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender diversity in an increasingly pluralistic California and to appreciate and respect the opportunities and consequences of that diversity. Our students should be able to demonstrate the relevance of race, class, and gender in understanding human groups and human behavior and the influence of these characteristics on the functioning of organizations they work in. They should also, for example, be able to know how to generalize and/or resist generalization across gender, race, and ethnic groups.
- Assist students in developing the knowledge and tools to understand and respond to rapid changes in the social, political, technological, and economic spheres of life. Students should be able to know how factors such as urbanization and population, for example, affect social structures and individuals and how global trends are affecting the local community they live in.
- Promote students' understanding of human interaction, institutions, and trends so that the sociological perspective will help them comprehend and react to the complexities around them. Our students should be able to carry with them the sociological perspective, apply it to the organizations they work in, to their community and neighborhood, and to their role as citizens in a democratic society.
- Guide the development of critical thinking skills and appreciation for the social scientific method as a tool for understanding social problems and providing solutions to those problems. Our students should understand arguments about social problems and solutions to those problems, and the role that scientific research plays in constructing knowledge about these problems. They should be able to identify basic premises in arguments about social concerns and to present alternative and opposing viewpoints and hypothesis on various issues that confront them both in their world of work and in their life as citizens.
- Encourage our students to develop their own interdisciplinary vision for the future of this region by becoming involved as citizens and employees in the quest to address the problems we face in the Sacramento Valley and in Northern California. Sociology is a liberal arts major. It helps prepare our students for a variety of careers, for life-long learning, and for their role as active and involved citizens in their communities.
Statement on Diversity for the Department of Sociology
The Department of Sociology has long wrestled with the issues surrounding social diversity. Though the discipline of sociology has traditionally been concerned with diversity in human groups and social arrangements, it has also come under severe (and not wholly unwarranted) criticism for failing to address diversity issues, whether in terms of subject matter and analytical focus, curriculum development, or student enrollment and faculty recruitment. The clearest evidence of this has been the emergence of new academic departments whose substantive focuses, student body, and faculty members were once under the purview of sociology. Departments of ethnic studies, womens studies, black studies, Chicano studies, queer studies, American studies and others have all emerged since the 1960s to dignify and legitimate social groups who have argued that their experience and concerns were either ignored or dismissed by conventional social science or sociology in particular.
Our department is aware of these developments and concerns and we are respectful and sensitive to the important issue of diversity in society and the university. We seek to promote scientific inquiry and humanistic reflection into the experiences of diverse groups and the social arrangements that condition and characterize these groups. Likewise, we are committed to the goal that our students be aware of, understand, and are able to make informed, reasoned judgments regarding issues of diversity throughout their lives. Finally, our department will continue to pursue and recruit a diverse faculty, one that reflects not only our society and student body but also upholds the professional standards that characterize the discipline of sociology.