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Nicholas P. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Sociology

Sociology

Major

SOCIOLOGY

Sociology concerns the application of scientific methods to the study of the diverse ways in which social forces shape individual conduct and experience. Theories of human behavior are developed and tested through the collection and analysis of empirical evidence. The discipline strives to provide students with perspectives and methods that may be applied to understanding a broad range of social phenomena.

Knowledge and skills expected of sociology students:

  • Sociology students learn critical thinking skills, including the ability to challenge common assumptions, formulate questions, evaluate evidence, and reach reasoned conclusions.
  • Critical thinking skills are developed from a foundation of sociological theory. Students acquire knowledge of traditional and emergent sociological perspectives that may be applied to understanding the various dimensions of social life.
  • Methodological competency is necessary to the development and application of critical thinking. Students acquire qualitative and quantitative research skills which allow an appreciation of sociological research, and facilitate the critique of evidence underlying many issues of public debate.
  • The sociology discipline is committed to the active engagement of student learning. Many courses provide opportunities for research projects and experiential learning assignments that extend learning beyond the classroom to the real world laboratory of social life.
  • Sociology students develop writing and speaking skills needed to present ideas and research efforts in a cogent and scholarly form. Clear, organized presentation of ideas and research is requisite to sociological training. Consequently, every effort is made to help students improve their oral and written communication skills.
  • Sociology provides an appreciation of cultural and social diversity. Students learn to recognize and comprehend global and national diversity of social life, and thus locate personal values and self-identity within the context of our complex and changing social world.

Students of sociology are required to complete a core of five courses with a minimum of C- grade in each course. SO 101S Introduction to Sociology provides the foundation of theoretical perspective, research methods, and substantive areas of investigation that are shared across the discipline. SO 160M Statistical Methods instructs students in the techniques of quantitative data analysis. In SO 260 Qualitative Methods and SO 360 Research Design, students develop an advanced understanding of research methods that includes application to real world social issues. SO 320 Theories of Society elaborates sociological theory in an intensive examination of perspectives for explaining social behavior. In addition to the five core requirements, each student selects five sociology electives toward completion of the ten courses in the major. It is also possible for the student to focus the five electives on specialization in criminal justice.

The minor in Sociology consists of SO 101S Introduction to Sociology and any other four courses with an SO prefix.

Why Sociology?

Sociology may be the most inclusive of the social sciences. Indeed, it would be fair to say that there is no form of human behavior or experience which is outside the interests of sociologists. Some sociologists study systems of inequality based on class, race, and gender. Other sociologists examine social institutions, such as work and occupations, the family, politics and government, education, health, and religion. Still other sociologists investigate the dynamics of social organizations, small groups, and face-to-face interaction.