Why Study Sociology?
Sociology courses play a key role in a liberal education, allowing students to systematically and critically examine the human experience, social arrangements, and the relationship of the individual to society. Sociology majors and minors pursue careers in many areas, including the social services, activist/social justice, policy, or non-profit arenas, and in the fields of college teaching, law, urban planning, education, law enforcement, and hospital administration.
Sociology encompasses a variety of content areas, such as race, class, and gender inequality; family, political, economic, religious, and media institutions; and issues of community, culture, identity, and globalization, to name but a few. The focus of sociology has historically been on Western cultures. However, sociology emphasizes cross-cultural study in many of its sub-areas.
Our courses emphasize understanding rather than memorization and intensive study of specific subjects rather than coverage of numerous topics. Our goal is to provide students with models of how sociologists approach their studies rather than to provide brief surveys of what sociologists know.
Courses in sociology often use monographs rather than traditional textbooks. Usually these are reports of research by sociologists, sometimes they are novels or journalistic accounts of some issue or event. The material cannot simply be read, memorized, and lectured about, and Cornell's One Course At A Time schedule allows us to devote considerable time to the discussion of the assigned readings.
Students further develop their analytical and communication skills through numerous writing and research assignments. Our extended class hours also allow for group work, student presentations, feature-length films, and field trips. Some of our courses feature off-campus study in both international and domestic locations. For example, Culture, Gender and Public Policy is taught in Japan, while the courses Community and Families in Social Context both feature extended stays in Chicago.
We encourage our students to become active and responsible citizens through class assignments and extracurricular opportunities. Cornell's Civic Engagement Program sponsors courses with service learning components, visiting speakers, internships, volunteer opportunities, and more.