What kind of society do we live in? What are its distinctive characteristics and problems? Where is it headed? Sociology illuminates the effects of social interactions, structures, institutions and processes on the character and quality of our lives. As part of a liberal arts education at New College, our Sociology AOC offers theories and research relevant to our ability both to make sense of our circumstances as individuals in contemporary society, and to act efficaciously and constructively in shaping the modern world.
At New College you will find not only what most other sociology programs offer – encouraging students to dig into the world around them, see connections between individual experiences and group structures, question what is taken for granted, and embrace the “sociological imagination”-, but also a diverse body of faculty who are passionate about their field of interest and sharing this knowledge with students. Professor David Brain engages students with the local community through his courses on Urban Sociology. Professor Emily Fairchild opens the opportunity for students to focus their sociological inquiry on gender, culture, and interpersonal relations. Professor Sarah Hernandez brings together scholarship in Social Movements, Alternative Work Organization, and the Sociology of (Economic) Development, embracing as well scholarship in Labor Studies, Latin American Studies and Mexico in particular. Professor Meccasia Zabriskie engages the students’ interests in racial oppression, intersectionality, and culture, as well as the relationship between the arts, sociology, and ethnic and racial identities.
The tutorial system at New College allows our students who have gained the basic sociological training to explore their particular interests in a more focused and individualized manner. Furthermore, our program is pedagogically structured to guide students from their early professional steps through the maturity of a senior thesis. With an awareness of the basic concepts in sociology in the introductory courses, students are ready to acquire knowledge about sociological theory and research methods. The methods course guides the students toward the development of a research proposal that will culminate in individualized field research during their Empirical Independent Study Project. With this experience, students are ready to develop their thesis topic and carry through with their thesis research and writing. These independent learning activities allow our students to pursue their own interests while developing their professional skills (analytical, critical, and synthesizing skills in thought, writing, and public presentations). Our study of the social world allows for an infinite number of connections to students’ lives outside of the classroom. Students doing various internships are able to make connections to course concepts and reflect on how sociological concepts are visible in the broader community. This is also true of regular courses; we are often able to discuss current events and everyday observations as related to course concepts, making real-life connections a part of the curriculum.
In addition to the high quality and commitment of our professors, the Sociology program benefits from the high quality of our students. Our students are smart, hardworking and tend to be activist-oriented. They are drawn to the discipline from an interest in people and groups and in addressing the inequalities we study. Through their own volition as well as programmatic gatherings and team work required in various courses, Sociology students develop a support system that encourages intellectual engagement in and outside of the classroom, and many times also civic engagement of various kinds (volunteering, attending public events, activist gatherings, and professional meetings).
Our AOC is distinctive because we don’t limit sociology students to what comes out of a textbook or to only covering a few key topics in the field. Instead, our students are challenged to read the original works of different scholars and then dissect the content and methodology. This allows them to dig into immigration, the history of the labor union and the experiences of workers in the hotel industry, migrant workers, refugee women in the Middle East and Africa, and more.
“Our students are reading the real stuff,” says Professor Emily Fairchild. “Part of what we strive to do is expose them to where sociologists publish, and how sociologists talk and write. That’s different than what you get in many undergraduate sociology programs around the country.”
The depth and breadth students discover here prepare them well for careers in a wide variety of fields, including teaching, law, community development, urban planning and government and social service. Many of them also go on to earn advance degrees at such leading graduate schools as Yale, Cal-Berkeley, University of Michigan, Penn and the New School for Social Research.
We Cover a Broad Terrain
At New College, courses in sociology draw on a range of theoretical perspectives and research traditions.
Key Themes and Topics Include:
As a student majoring in Sociology at New College, you will be be required to acquire competence in content knowledge, written and oral communication skills and critical thinking skills. These are gained by mastering the fundamental tools of the discipline through a set of core courses, one empirical Independent Study Project (ISP) and five elective courses. Below are descriptions of the required courses, and of a selection of our electives.
In addition to traditional classes, you will also engage in ISPs, group research projects and off-campus contracts that provide important opportunities to gain direct experience of social issues explored in courses and tutorials. Students are encouraged to do field research, particularly in the local community.
Note: Students seeking a slash or joint AOC in Sociology and another discipline (e.g., Sociology/History) have slightly different guidelines.
The five required courses in Sociology at New College are:
Our elective courses address three broad subfields in sociology: 1) Social Organizations/Institutions, 2) Social Change, and 3) Persons and Society. We require you to take at least one course in each of the three. Below are examples of electives regularly offered that fall within each subfield. Some courses fit more than one category.
1) Social Organization/Institutions
2) Social Change
3) Persons and Society
Descriptions of required core courses in Sociology at New College:
Introduction to Sociology
Sociological Research Methods
Senior Thesis Seminar
Samples of electives offered in Sociology:
Contemporary Gender Seminar
Introduction to Sociology through Social Psychology
Practicum in Community Building
Qualitative Methods for Studying Culture
Social Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Power
Sociology of Development
The Sociology of the Arts and Performance
Qualitative Methods for Studying Culture
Sociology of Gender and The Body
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
The Sociology of Sustainable Communities
Space, Place & Community
Work Organization and Its Alternatives
For a complete list of courses, click here.
Jennifer Glass ’74 is the Barbara Bush Professor of Liberal Arts in the Department of Sociology and Research Associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. She has published more than 50 articles and books on gender stratification in the labor force, mother’s employment and mental health, and religious conservatism and women’s economic attainment. She has taught at the University of Southern California, Notre Dame, University of Iowa and Cornell. Recently, she was elected vice president of the American Sociological Association.
“New College really changed the trajectory of my life,” she says. “I never would have gone to graduate school had it not been for my fantastic mentor, who encouraged me and pushed me through my thesis project (which, when I looked back on it a few years ago, was better than most of the M.A. theses my students are writing today!)”
New College is proud of the many Sociology graduates who have contributed to the field. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
• Robert Atkinson is the founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, D.C.,-based technology policy think tank. He is a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. He is also author of the State New Economy Index series, Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage and The Past and Future of America’s Economy: Long Waves of Innovation That Power Cycles of Growth. He has testified before a number of committees in Congress and has appeared in various media outlets including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR and NBC Nightly News.
• Dan Chambliss earned his master’s and Ph.D. from Yale University and is The Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College.
• Katherine F. Chandler is a teacher of philosophy and history at Instituto Cultural de Cuernavaca.
• Jennifer Glanville received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Iowa.
• Rafael Ribeiro received his J.D. from the University of Florida and is a partner with Bilzin Sumberg Attorneys at Law.
• Sarah Chynoweth earned a M.A. in human rights and health from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Global Health from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She has acted as a consultant for the International Planned Parenthood Federation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; been a guest lecturer in the School of Public Health at Boston University; and is a former reproductive health program manager for the Women’s Refugee Commission of the International Rescue Committee.
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Sociology
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Sociology:
“This is the Value of Our Labor: The Nonmajority Union Approach in U.S. Manufacturing” by Essie Ablavsky
“Marketing Masculinity: A Content Analysis of Gender Role Presentations in Super Bowl Commercials at the Turn of the 21st Century” by Allison Whitcomb
“Maintaining Inequality: A Comparative Study of Educational Stratification in Argentina and The United States” by Maia G. de la Calle
“All the News That’s Fit to Print?: A Comparison of News Narratives of the 2009 Horduran Coup” by Sarah P. Iacobucci
“Stirring Up The Hive: NGO Discourse and Indigenous Subalternity – The Case of Las Abejas Chiapas, Mexico” by Lucia Isabel Stavig
“Does Participation in Extracurricular Activities Increase Test Scores?” by Mary Elizabeth Swartz
“First Do No Harm’: Intersexuality and the Rise of the Medical Profession” by Kim Heinz
“The Shifting Margins of Whiteness and Otherness: Hispanic American Women and the Social Construction of Race” by Sasha Wortzel
“The American Myth: Survival and Coping Strategies of Low-Income Workers in Sarasota” by Alena A. Tupper
“Curing the Cannibals: Lu Xun’s Literary Works as Sociopolitical Action” by Intan Fitriana Suwandi
“An Analysis and Exploration of the Criminal Justice System in Sarasota County, Florida and Criminal Defendant Non-Compliance” by Julia M. Davis
“Coalition Building in the Global Justice Movement: The Case of Miami 2003” by Kate Chanton
“Barriers and Enablers to Program Impact: Hispanic Participants’ Reactions to a Nutrition Education Pilot Project” by Kelly M. Jones
“Dual Loyalities: Exploring the Roles of Identity, Acculturation and Discrimination in Mexican-American Patriotism” by Natalie R. Lloyd
“A Critical View of the Administration of Florida’s Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled” by David G. Savarese
“No Se Puede Encarcelar la Inconformidad del Pueblo You Can’t Imprison the People’s Discontent: A Look at the History of U.S. Farm Labor Organizing and A Case Study of a Current Local Movement” by Julia Armsden Daniel
“Cuban Women: The Influence of Socialist Ideology on Gender Identity” by Shelley Bull
“Constructing Domestic Violence within the Battered Women’s Shelter: Workers’ Role.” by Cathryn Cayce Hughes
“Risqué Business: Emotional Labor and Stigma Management among Erotic Dancers” by Elizabeth Friend
“Publications, Education and Places of Exhibition: The Women Artists’ Movement as a Challenge to Modernism” by Nicole Cordier-McLaughlin
“Hairitage: An Investigation of Hair Practices Among Women of Color” by Arika Beachy
“Equal Playing Fields: A Comparative Study of School Funding and Educational Resources in Seven Florida High Schools” by Keith Bentele
“Economic Justice from the Grassroots: Coalition Building of a Living Wage Campaign” by Joanna Dubinsky
“The Relationship Between Social Support and Psychological Well-Being for Recent Female Hispanic Immigrants in the United States” by Meghan Conley
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to the study of sociology and is available to students throughout the year. Also available at the library is the Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection. Named in honor of Holocaust survivor and New College benefactress Dr. Helen Fagin, the collection holds materials related to the Holocaust, genocide and humanitarian studies. The Fagin room can be reserved for occasional small meetings connected with the collection.
In addition to the library and its collections, students studying sociology at New College are also free to enjoy and participate in an array of on and off-campus events. These include:
New Topics New College is a public lecture series that runs from October through March. Free to students, the series features guest speakers discussing a wide range of current topics and issues — local, national and international.
Each February, the New College community celebrates Black History with an African American Read-In, a community talk by a noted Black author and a student-led community service project. Participants read for two hours straight by passing it along from reader to reader — a reading marathon for literature lovers. The library’s Read-In is part of a national event in conjunction with Black History Month, endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.
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