Sociology Department Profile

Welcome to the Whitman College Department of Sociology!

Sociology courses deal with the structure and functioning of societies, the nature of social interaction, the relationship between the individual and society, and the nature of change in human societies.

We here at the Sociology Department strive to give our students a diverse exposure to and understanding of sociology. We therefore offer a wide variety of classes with topics ranging from Environmental Sociology to the History and Sociology of Rock 'n' Roll. Be sure to check out a list of the courses that we offer, and a short description of each of them by clicking the "Courses" link at the top. If you want to take a closer look at a course, just click on the "Syllabi" link to see the syllabus for the course that interests you.

A culmination of this diverse major is the senior thesis. Anyone is welcome to attend the presentations, so swing by if you have a chance! We are housed in the Maxey Hall of Social Sciences here at Whitman College. Take a tour of the college to find out more about where we are located.

Sociology Major Requirements

The Sociology major: Sociology 117, 207, 367, 490, either 492 or 498; additional work in sociology to make a total of 36 credits.

The Sociology minor: Sociology 117, 207, 367; additional work in sociology for a minimum of 18 credits.

The Sociology-Environmental Studies combined major: Sociology 117, 207, 367; one course chosen from either Sociology 307, 309, 317, 348, or 350 (chosen from whichever were not taken as a basic background course); one course selected from: Sociology 257, 347, 369, 490, 492, or 498. For more information about this option, please visit the Environmental Studies section of the Whitman catalog.

Those students interested in teaching sociology at the high school level should take Sociology 330, and a selection of advanced problems courses (numbered 257 through 317) as electives. Those interested in community organization should take Sociology 259, 260, 267, 300, 307, 317, 347, 350. Recommended courses for students going on in social work or other social service organizations include: Economics 107, History 368, Philosophy 127, and 128, Psychology 110, 210, 240, 260, and 330, and Sociology 117, 257, 267, 300, 307, 317, 330, and 350. For more information regarding this issue, please see the Careers and Professions portion of the Whitman catalog.

Whitman College Sociology Department Goals

  1. The discipline of sociology and its role in contributing to our understanding of social reality, such that the student will be able to: (a) describe how sociology differs from and is similar to other social sciences and to give examples of these differences; (b) describe how sociology contributes to a liberal arts understanding of social reality; and (c) define and apply the sociological imagination, sociological principles, and concepts to his/her own life.
  2. The role of theory in sociology, such that the student will be able to: (a) define theory and describe its role in building sociological knowledge; (b) compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations; (c) show how theories reflect the historical context of the times and cultures in which they were developed; and (d) describe and apply some basic theories or theoretical orientations in at least one area of social reality.
  3. The role of evidence and qualitative and quantitative methods in sociology, such that the student will be able to: (a) identify basic methodological approaches and describe the general role of methods in building sociological knowledge; (b) compare and contrast the basic methodological approaches for gathering data; and (c) design a research study in an area of choice and explain why various decisions were made.
  4. The technical skills involved in retrieving information and data from the library and the Internet (e.g., using Sociological Abstracts database) and using computers appropriately for data analysis (e.g., SPSS). The major should also be able to critically assess articles and books used in defining a body of knowledge on a given sociological topic, and to do (social) scientific technical writing that accurately conveys data findings and to show an understanding and application of principles of ethical practice as a sociologist.
  5. Basic concepts in sociology and their fundamental theoretical interrelations, such that the student will be able to define, give examples, and demonstrate the relevance of culture; social change; socialization; stratification; social structure; institutions; and differences by race/ethnicity, gender, age, and class. Students majoring in Environmental Studies - Sociology apply the aforementioned concepts to the causes and consequences of environmental problems.
  6. The internal diversity of American society and its place in the international context, such that the student will be able to describe: (a) the significance of variations by race, class, gender, and age; and (b) will know how to appropriately generalize or resist generalizations across groups.

In addition to these skills, students should be able…

  1. To think critically, such that the student will be able to: (a) move easily from recall analysis and application to synthesis and evaluation; (b) identify underlying assumptions in particular theoretical orientations or arguments; (c) identify underlying assumptions in particular methodological approaches to an issue; (d) show how patterns of thought and knowledge are directly influenced by political-economic social structures; and possibly (e) present opposing viewpoints and alternative hypotheses on various issues.
  2. To critically and effectively communicate verbally and in written form.
  3. To learn professional standards and have access to opportunities for meaningful participation in professional events and activities of their discipline.
  4. To develop attitudes and predispositions which contribute to effective and responsible leadership, citizenship, and self-growth.