Sociology offers a wide variety of integrative views of social life (theories), numerous techniques to research its patterns in understandable forms (methods) and just as many critical stances from which to judge the fairness of social orderings (values). Appropriately enough, this multiplicity provides a diversity to course offerings and, interestingly enough, a singularity of purpose for students in their study.
As a discipline, sociology provides students with better information about the state of society than they would otherwise get; it instructs them in the patterned vagaries of society; and it gives them some sense of their own social location, of the structures that both inhibit and permit social action, and of the nature of fundamental social change. As C. Wright Mills, one of the more prominent sociologists of the past half century, says, sociology translates an individual's "personal troubles into social issues."
Bucknell offers a program of unusual depth and breadth. The aim of each course offering is to take students into a social topic in some depth, not simply "introduce students to sociology." Introductory courses such as Medicine and Society, Legal Studies, American Culture and Society, and Social Inequality include an in-depth focus on one or more substantive topics.
At the same time, sociology is taught, like the other social sciences at Bucknell, as part of a general liberal arts curriculum. As a result, students in any sociology course may be encouraged to see the connection between sociology and political science, history, psychology, economics or philosophy.
The sociology major continues the emphasis on breadth and depth. Students may major in the general program, which includes a course in research methodology, in social theory, and six other courses of their choosing. Or, they may wish to select a concentration that focuses their efforts. At the moment, the department offers concentrations in legal studies, in human service organizations relating to welfare and medicine, and in culture, media, and leisure studies.
Sociology students learn to access, collect, and interpret data from a variety of sources. They develop valuable skills in collecting data through direct observation of social interaction, surveys of respondents, and historical and archival research. Students may also get involved in accessing and interpreting data from U.S. census materials stored on CD ROM, survey data collected by research groups such as the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and information available through the Internet.
Many Bucknell students also gain practical experience through internships or fieldwork with volunteer agencies and nonprofit organizations. Sociology majors have worked as congressional interns, social work aides, and as interns with local attorneys and magistrates, juvenile delinquency programs, the Lewisburg penitentiary, the Bucknell public safety staff, and the community center in Lewisburg. Many sociology students study abroad where some pursue internships, for example, at Toynbee Hall in London.
The seven sociology professors are active in research and encourage students to work with them. Some of their research interests include the role of women in society, immigration, globalization and masculinity, community action programs, and American collective memory and mythology of 9/11.
Many of our majors go on to graduate school in sociology, law, medicine, or social work. Others pursue careers in journalism, politics, public relations, business, public administration, or non-profit organizations and development agencies. Many students choose sociology because they see it as a broad liberal arts base for professions such as law, education, medicine, social work, and counseling. There are a variety of career options open to sociology students depending on their interests.