Welcome to the Department of Sociology & Communication Studies (SACS)! We have a brand new department name to reflect our changing composition. We teach courses in Sociology, Anthropology, Gender and Women’s Studies, and our newest addition – Communication Studies!
Pictured Left to Right:
Dr. Rucha Ambikar, Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology
Dr. John Perlich, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Dr. Lukas Szrot, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Dr. Colleen Greer, Professor of Sociology
Dr. Donna Pawlowski, Professor of Communication Studies
The Department Offers the Following Majors, Minors, and Courses:
Please explore the program areas, course offerings and our educational priorities via the navigation buttons to the left, and/or read more below!
Sociology is the “science of society,” the study of human interaction, from the most intimate exchange between two persons to globally interconnected social linkages and processes. Needless to say, sociology casts a broad net: the American Sociological Association notes OVER 50 UNIQUE SECTIONS comprised of professional sociologists’ research interests and specializations. Students taking courses in sociology can expect to learn more about the diversity of human experience, and how institutions, organizations, and other forms of enduring social structures shape human well-being, as well as perpetuate social inequities. For this reason, sociology often attracts those with a passion for making the world a better place. Sociology’s professional strengths include developing an improved capacity to learn new information, improving writing and speaking skills, and becoming more statistically literate–all of which are in high demand across fields including medicine, law, law enforcement, human resources, education, non-profit organizations, “public sector”/government jobs, data analysis, and political organizing. Some sociology majors also attend graduate school, and may find themselves working as analysts or researchers for public or private firms, and/or earning a doctorate and entering the professoriate, where opportunities for teaching, research, and interdisciplinary collaboration are numerous.
According to recent Pew Research Center analyses, there is a high, and growing, demand for jobs requiring strong social skills. Research also shows that high-paying, difficult-to-automate jobs increasingly require communication skill, and nearly all job growth since 1980 has been in occupations that are relatively communication intensive. Furthermore, the top three wealthiest Americans–Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett stress the central importance of communication to their successes. In other words, to become, and remain, a competitive job seeker in an economy increasingly driven by knowledge and service, effective communication is a must. Communication Studies is an interdisciplinary space devoted to strengthening communication skills; courses will help you hone these skills, by creating an environment that fosters participative learning, encourages critical thinking, and examines human communication at both the theoretical and applied levels.
Gender and Women’s Studies
Gender and Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary scholarly space which brings together numerous perspectives on gender, including, but not limited to, ideas and research from sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and literature. Courses in gender and women’s studies examine sex, gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation in relation to the social context in which we learn to “do” gender, and how gendered meanings and identities differ—or are similar—in different places and times. Additionally, Gender and Women’s Studies often approaches issues of race/ethnicity, social class/status, power, language, work, and culture through the lens of gender. Courses in Gender and Women’s Studies offer an opportunity to engage students’ profound concerns and interests, and aid in more successfully navigating diverse and changing societies.
Anthropology is the study of what makes us human. Anthropologists take a broad approach to understanding the many different aspects of the human experience, which we call holism. American anthropology is generally divided into four subfields: archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Archaeologists consider the past, seeking to understand how human beings in groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, and what was important to them. Biological anthropologists seek to understand how humans adapt to different environments, and how biology and culture shape our lives, by studying humans (living and dead), other primates such as monkeys and apes, and human ancestors (fossils). Sociocultural anthropologists often live among, and try to understand the perspectives, practices, and social organization of other groups whose values and lifeways may be very different from their own. Linguistic anthropologists analyze the ways we use language to build and share meaning, to form or change identities, and to make or change relations of power. Each of the subfields teaches distinctive skills. However, the subfields also have a number of similarities. For example, each subfield applies theories, employs systematic research methodologies, formulates and tests hypotheses, and develops extensive sets of data. Anthropology courses can broaden one’s perspective on what it means to be human, an increasingly essential skill in an ever more diverse, complex, and interconnected society.
We in the Department of Sociology & Communication Studies are united by our shared values of creating a learning environment where diversity is embraced and all members are safe, welcome, and validated.
If you have any questions, please contact department chair: Dr. Deb Peterson Debra Peterson