Applying Theory to “Make Better Sense of Their Own Lives”

Sociologists are known to describe their field as the mother lode of all social theories, said Dr. Rucha Ambikar, chair of the Sociology Department at Bemidji State University.

Because social sciences in general are rooted in an understanding of how people interact in society, the study of sociology is broadly applicable — not only in varied areas of study, but in students’ own lives, Ambikar said.

“A common objective among all the Sociology faculty here at BSU is that we try to make sure we’re not just teaching them theory, but how to apply that theory to “make better sense of their own lives,” she said. “One of the things I like to say is we need to prepare our students to ask the really good questions, and then we teach them how to find answers.”

The result is that a Sociology major or even a minor can prepare students for a number of fields in which understanding social groups and social patterns is crucial, such as criminal justice, law and nonprofit management.

Ambikar, a native of India, also pointed out that the BSU program offers a valuable global perspective that is meaningful for students who may just beginning to venture out of familiar surroundings and discovering the social complexity of the wider world.

“We have a certain frame of mind that we are able to share with students,” she said, “and it has a lot to do with social justice and how to perhaps address problems that need fixing.”