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College of Arts and Sciences
Sociology

Sociology

Sociologists are fascinated by the fundamental question: why do people do what they do? Sociologists describe and explain the ecological foundations of society, major institutions and the ways in which people interact, organize their lives together and bestow meaning on the world. In so doing we seek a wider cross-cultural and multi-cultural understanding, striving to make people’s lives intelligible across the boundaries of culture, class, race, and gender.

The sociology program at Seattle University both embodies and extends these core principles of sociology. The sociology program is comprised of faculty who are engaged in a sociology for the 21st century. This undergraduate sociology program affords students a critical, interdisciplinary, and community-focused approach to doing sociology. Its faculty often seek to create a learning environment that acknowledges the canon of sociology while, simultaneously, affording students a more multidimensional, cutting-edge, and applied perspective on the discipline of sociology. This is made possible by a diverse community of sociology faculty who engage their students and the larger community through a range of critical pedagogies and scholarly interests that span from gender and sexuality studies, to narrative analyses, to political sociology, to punishment and social control, to feminist theory, to religion and sexuality, to mental illness, to ethnographic and community-based research, to public sociology, to urban studies and global social movements.

Degrees offered: BA, minor

Sociology students have more opportunities to participate in faculty research projects thanks to a new endowment created by alumnus Richard F. Beers II, class of 2007.

Learn more.

In spring, 2017, Dr. Mark Cohan's university core class, Sociology of Food, partnered with Seattle-based Northwest Harvest, a non-profit food bank distributor, to help them promote a conference they planned to host. Through research and personal interviews, the students helped create a video to help promote a national conference, "Closing the Hunger Gap: From Charity to Solidarity."

News and Events

Closing the Hunger Gap: From Charity to Solidarity

Dr. Mark Cohan's students studied the structural forces, from international economic dynamics to institutional racism, that cause hunger and limit access to whole, healthy food, particularly in poorer communities of color. They also learned about the food justice movement, which seeks to address these problems in ways that depend on the leadership, insights, and voices of those in these marginalized communities. The students then conducted video interviews with food bank managers and other professionals in the emergency food system with a focus on what food justice means and how they can foster it. The students completed interviews of 20 to 40 minutes in length, then edited them down to 10 to 15 minute highlights as their final projects. Over the summer, a Northwest Harvest staff member edited the videos into the professional, promotional video seen above, to use in promoting the conference, which occurred in early September. 

Dr. Madeline Lovell and Taylene Watson, MSW

Seattle University BSW undergraduate awards renamed in recognition of pioneers in field of social work, the late Dr. Madeline L. Lovell, Assistant Professor Emeritus, and Taylene Waston, MSW. Read more.

Student-Faculty Research: When Sociology Professor Jodi O’Brien starting looking at how practicing Catholics make sense of family planning practices that don’t conform to the Church’s position, she didn’t expect to find important Catholic teachings as a foundation for an alternative viewpoint. Working closely with her research assistant Cal Garrett ‘16, O’Brien uncovered important insights regarding the ways Catholic women root their practices within the tenets of their faith. Read the article and watch the video here.

 
The Danny Woo Community Garden in Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District has welcomed immigrants from Asia for more than 40 years. Professor Rob Efird enlisted the aid of student Taylor Burmer to prepare an exhibit about the unique aspects of the garden for the Wing Luke Museum. The exhibit runs through March 2017. Read the article and watch the video here.
 
Alumni Profile: Sociology alumnus Cervante Burrell '12 came to Seattle University to play basketball and figure out life after college. Now as the founder of The Unforeseen and dean of students at Sacramento Charter High School, he is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students. More here.
 
Faculty Profile: Social Work Professor Amelia S. Derr, read the article and watch the video here.