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.
The discipline of sociology encompasses a broad terrain of sub-fields and specialties exploring various aspects of the social world. At the center is an interest in developing a systematic and theoretically informed understanding of the patterns, tendencies, and possibilities that characterize contemporary social life. Although we are often unaware of its influences on us, the social world structures our opportunities, shapes our aspirations, and provides the stage for our actions. As individuals, we are both sustained and constrained by the web of social relations in which our lives are embedded. Even our perceptions are affected by the way we are situated in the social world, and by our participation in the construction of social reality.
We don’t live in “society” in the abstract, of course, but in a particular society with particular characteristics and a specific history. What kind of society do we live in? What are its distinctive characteristics and problems? Where is it headed? Sociological analyses illuminate the effects of social interactions, structures, institutions, and processes on the character and quality of our lives. As part of a liberal arts education, sociology 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, courses in sociology draw on a range of theoretical perspectives and research traditions. Key themes and topics include: the causes and consequences of particular distributions of power, wealth, and prestige; the significance of class, ethnic, and gender differences in modern societies; social organization at the level of small groups, complex organizations, and whole societies; the sociology of development; social movements and change; the organization of work; cultural production and consumption in both popular and elite arts; the processes of face-to-face social interaction; socialization and social construction; and the social production of the urban environment.
A student majoring in sociology is 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 five required courses, one empirical ISP, and five elective courses. The required courses include: Introduction to Sociology, Social Theory, Sociological Research Methods, Statistics, and the Senior Thesis Seminar. The five elective courses must include at least one course in each of the three broad subfields: Social Organization/ Institutions, Change, and Persons and Society. The empirical Independent Study Project should be done after completing the methods course.
Independent study projects, group research projects, and off-campus contracts 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.
Our program builds the skills that the employers today seek: people who have creativity and innovation, multi-cultural and global understandings, critical thinking skills, math and science skills, and excellent written expression. Sociology concentrators have gone into a variety of fields after New College, ranging from PhD programs and subsequent employment in academe (in Sociology and other fields), Law School, International NGOs addressing Human and Refugee Rights, Public Health, Education, Social Work, Public Relations, Media and Communication, among others.
Students majoring in Sociology at New College will acquire competence in content knowledge, written and oral communication skills and critical thinking skills. These competencies 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.
In addition to these activities, students are encouraged to engage in internships, group research projects, and off-campus educational activities (e.g. service learning projects, community engagement projects, and volunteering) that provide important opportunities to gain direct experience of social issues explored in courses and tutorials.
The five required courses for Sociology AOC and Joint-Disciplinary with Sociology listed first are:
In addition, students are required to complete:
Our elective courses address three broad subfields in sociology:
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.
Declaring a Sociology Area of Concentration
In order to declare a Sociology AOC, students are required to submit a portfolio for review. Prior to submitting a portfolio students must have satisfactorily completed four sociology courses. The portfolio must include a “Sociology Portfolio Review Worksheet,” 2-3 papers written for sociology courses, a copy of the students narrative evaluation for the Introduction to Statistics course, a printout of the unofficial transcript (available through the Student Evaluation System), the signed “Provisional Area of Concentration” form and a plan for completing the remaining sociology requirements. Students will generally submit a portfolio for review in their fifth contract.
The Joint-Disciplinary (Slash) AOC with Sociology listed second has a slightly reduced set of requirements:
Note: In accordance with regulations in the Faculty Handbook, students with a joint -disciplinary AOC where Sociology is listed second must have one faculty member from the sociology discipline in their thesis committee. Furthermore, the thesis should make substantive use of sociological theory, literature, and analysis.
Students must complete the same requirements as the Disciplinary AOC. In accordance with regulations in the Faculty Handbook, students completing a double AOC with Sociology must have two faculty members from the sociology discipline on their thesis committee. Ideally, one of the sociology faculty members would serve as co-sponsor with a faculty member from the other discipline or be consistently consulted with by the student to ascertain progress in the thesis qualifies for a Sociology AOC. The thesis should make substantive use of sociological theory, literature, and analysis.
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These pathways show how you could complete the AOC requirements within four years at New College or within two years after earning an associate’s degree. Please consult with your academic adviser to determine the most appropriate courses for your area of concentration.