Sociologists examine topics encompassing a vast array of human behavior: crime and punishment, the formation and dissolution of families, bureaucracy in organizations, conflicts between classes, and global inequalities. Sociology is distinctive in its focus on the way individuals’ lives are embedded within multiple social contexts that facilitate and constrain the range of possible actions. These contexts include generation, occupation, gender, religion, sexual orientation, family, health, nation, race and ethnicity, and many others. Sociologists utilize a variety of information sources in their work, including census data, historical documents, transcripts from interviews, survey results, and observations of group behavior.
The Department of Sociology at Western has designed a program of course work that provides our majors with multiple opportunities to gain 1) understanding of theoretical perspectives within sociology, 2) mastery of the methods of data collection and analysis, and 3) in-depth knowledge of particular subareas. The subareas include law, crime, and deviance; families; population studies; social psychology; and social inequality. Regardless of the particular set of courses that is chosen, sociology students will develop an aptitude for critical thinking, the ability to write effectively for a social scientific audience, and competence with statistical computing that will enhance their future career options. We also offer faculty-led study abroad programs and encourage our students to experience immersion in cultures outside the United States. Recent sociology graduates have obtained positions in a variety of fields, including criminal justice, corrections, education, social services, market research, business management, and many others. Graduates have found the skills acquired in our program have prepared them for further academic studies in sociology, demography, law, social work, marriage and family counseling, business and education.
The Sociology Department offers four distinct bachelor’s degrees as well as a Sociology Minor. The department maintains a number of facilities and resources that undergraduate students may use to enhance their educational experience. The Center for Social Science Instruction contains U.S. Census Bureau publications and data, a collection of census maps for the local area, and a computer lab. The director of the center is also available to assist students in accessing and analyzing large survey and census databases. The department also has its own 30-station computer laboratory for student use. Faculty are engaged in a variety of research activities, and frequently involve undergraduate students in their work.
Students who are interested in pursuing a sociology degree should carefully read the section labeled ‘Admission to Sociology Major’ and are encouraged to meet with the departmental program coordinator to establish a study plan as soon as possible.
MICK CUNNINGHAM (1999) Chair and Professor. BA, Pacific Lutheran University; MA, PhD, University of Michigan.
KRISTIN ANDERSON (2001) Professor. BA, University of Northern Iowa; PhD, University of Texas-Austin.
RICHARD BULCROFT (1999) Associate Professor. BA, University of New Hampshire; PhD, University of Minnesota.
SETH FEINBERG (2005) Associate Professor. BA, Tufts University; PhD, Ohio State University.
ANGELA FILLINGIM (2017) Assistant Professor. BA, University of California Davis; PhD University of California Berkeley.
PAT GILLHAM (2015) Assistant Professor. BA, Eastern College; PhD, University of Colorado.
RONALD HELMS (2000) Professor. BA, California State University-Chico; PhD, University of Oregon.
JENNIFER LOIS (2000) Professor. BA, Dartmouth College; PhD, University of Colorado.
BAOZHEN LUO (2010) Assistant Professor. BA, Nanjing University, China; MA, PhD, Georgia State University
LIZ MOGFORD (2007) Associate Professor. BA, St. John’s College; MA, MPH, PhD, University of Washington.
GLENN TSUNOKAI (2003) Professor. BA, PhD, University of California-Riverside.
Admission to Sociology Major
The number of students admitted to the major is limited as a result of the structure of the sociology curriculum and departmental staffing capabilities.
All students wishing to become Sociology majors should meet the following criteria:
- Completion of at least 45 college-level credits
- Completion of at least 5 credits in Sociology with a grade of C- or better
If the preceding criteria are met, students should complete the Sociology Major Admission form. There are two paths to becoming a Sociology major.
Path 1 (Immediate Declaration): Students with a cumulative GPA of 2.85 or higher may submit their admission form at any time to the Sociology Department Program Coordinator for approval and admission to the major.
Path 2 (Application Review): Students with a cumulative GPA lower than 2.85 should submit their admission form to the Sociology Program Coordinator on or before Friday of the 2nd week of fall, winter or spring quarter. These applications will be reviewed and admission to the major will be based on a combination of overall GPA, Sociology GPA, and space available in the program. Students will receive notification regarding their admission status during the fourth week of classes.
Other Departmental Information
Access to courses for minors is limited as a result of space constraints. See registration policy for additional information.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate Minor
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies section of this catalog.