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Student Resources

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  • Political Science

    Political Science STUDENT RESOURCES

    Course Descriptions

    Degree Plans

    What is political science?

    Political science is the academic discipline that studies Politics.

    So what is POLITICS?

    Two prominent political scientists have developed slightly different definitions.

    Harold Lasswell said that "politics determines the process of "who gets what, when, and how." This means that politics determines what policies and goals the political system will pursue. Political scientists get to delve into the fascinating realm of the interworkings of the complicated, complex, and convoluted American political system.

    Robert Dahl, another prominent political scientist, defined politics as the "process that determines the authoritative allocation of values." This means that political scientists get to investigate how the political process determines what will be the "official" political position on every controversial political topic and issue.

    As an academic discipline, political science can be an intriguing, thought provoking, and stimulating field.

    A student must major in something, so why not try political science?

  • Psychology

    Psychology Student Resources

    Course Descriptions

    Degree Plans

  • Sociology/Social Work

    Sociology / Social Work Resources

    Sociology Course Descriptions

    Sociology Degree Plan 

    Social Work Course Descriptions

    Social Work Degree Plans

    What is Sociology?

    The American Sociological Association, (ASA) describes “sociology as the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.”1 The ASA contends that “sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.

    Topics of Study

    Subject areas are as varied as society itself. Sociologists can study very small social relationships involving only a few people (such as the family). They can also explore relationships in much larger social collectivities such as organizations and institutions. Sociology may be concerned with issues revolving around social class, poverty, gender, race and ethnicity, or religion as well as social mobility and education. Other topics may include culture, socialization, conflict, power, and deviance. Very large social relationships such as those between nation states are also the domain of sociology as are the characteristics of the economy and political system. In fact, the whole topic of globalization is relevant to sociologists.

    The Relationship Between People and Structure

    Within the vast field of sociology, the common denominator is people. Sociology explores the “forces that influence people and help shape their lives … Society shapes what we do, how we do it, and how we understand what others do. Options in life are determined in the past and are molded by currently existing structures that provide well-established guidelines for how individuals conduct their lives. To quote Macionis and Plummer, “In the game of life, we may decide how to play our cards, but it is society that deals us the hand”2.

    Critical Thinking

    An important aspect of sociology is critical thinking. Peter Berger argues that students of sociology should acquire a healthy skepticism regarding overly simplified (or commonly accepted) conceptions of human affairs. According to Berger, it's the job of sociology to debunk commonly accepted notions about society.

    Multiple Perspectives

    Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world, generating new ideas and critiquing the old.”1 Sociology, as a matter of course, utilizes multiple perspectives when critiquing social phenomena. It, likewise, employs a wide range of methodological techniques to answer questions that have social relevance.

    Why Study Sociology?

    Within Academia

    Most employment specifically in sociology occurs in the context of academia. Colleges and universities often hire sociologists where they teach or engage in social research.

    Outside Academia

    Outside the university, applied sociologists solve specific social problems. Applied sociologists may focus on problems in the work place or “virtually any aspect of social life such as street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, how people express emotions, social welfare, education reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and war.”1 Many sociologists find employment in governmental agencies, such as the Census Bureau, that are concerned with the distribution of people. 

    Beyond Sociology: Benefits of Studying Sociology

    There are numerous reasons why one might want to study sociology even if they do not work in sociology directly. World Wide Learn3 points out that a background in sociology:assists one in recognizing trends and patterns in society.

    • allows the development of critical thinking skills.
    • encourages good research skills in data collection
    • instructs in creating concise reports and essays.
    • develops planning and organizational skills.
    • augments oral presentation skills and interpersonal communications.
    • enhances management skills and grant writing ability.

    Sociology is useful in “social and marketing research, sport development, psychology, law, human resources management, information science, journalism, and corporate communications, geography and environmental management, and development studies.

    1. ONLINE Sources Used
    2. American Sociological Association
    3. University of Limerick Web Page
    4. World Wide Learn (an online Education Guide)
    5. University of Johannesburg Web Page

    Social Science Associations and General Education Links

    Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE)
    American Sociological Association (ASA)
    American Psychological Association (APA)
    National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
    Texas Chapter of NASW (NASWTX)
    Phi Theta Kappa (PTK)

Page last updated May 26, 2020.

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