Majors are expected to gain sociological imagination to examine various issues concerning social inequalities and justice in domestic or/and global contexts.
Majors are expected to gain sociological imagination to examine various issues concerning social inequalities and justice in domestic or/and global contexts. They learn about sociological concepts and theories that enable them to analyze social issues and problems and understand them critically. The 10 ½ credits for the major include six required courses: introductory sociology (SOCI 151), modern social theory (SOCI 247), research methods (SOCI 254), two 300-level seminars, and a year-long senior thesis seminar (SOCI 300 and SOCI 301). Students can fulfill the remaining 4.5 credits by taking sociology classes at the 200-level and 300-level, and through sociology fieldwork credit (SOCI 290). In combination, the courses on sociological theory and research methods are designed to provide majors with basic competence in sociological reasoning, argument, and conducting their own research. A senior thesis is an intellectual exercise to demonstrate this competence by examining a topic of her or his own choice. Throughout the academic year, students are given intellectual and communal support for thesis writing in Senior Thesis Seminar.
The selection of courses offered by the Sociology Department at Vassar can be seen as falling into six "clusters" – Theory, Inequality and Difference, Culture, Social Justice, Policy, and Globalization. Individual faculty members have placed their own classes in no more than two categories thereby providing an overall sense of courses that "go together." These clusters are not requirements nor are they intended as correlate sequences. They are designed to aid advisers and to help students make decisions about classes they may want to take. Still, these six categories can be used in various ways. Students concerned with a diverse selection of courses might want to choose classes that fall into different clusters, whereas students interested in a particular emphasis might take several courses within a single category. Either of these approaches could be useful in preparing sociology majors to write a senior thesis.