Apr 22, 2024  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Sociology

Dean: Peter A. Dorsey

Associate Professors: Kim P. Hansen, Virginia A. McGovern, Timothy W. Wolfe (Director Human Services), John K. Trammell (Chair)

Assistant Professor: Layton M. Field, Kristopher M. Kohler, Denise N. Obinna

Lecturer: Joseph J. Vince

The Department of Sociology offers two Bachelor of Arts degrees: sociology and criminal justice.

Sociology is concerned with the development of knowledge about human social behavior. The human group is the primary unit of analysis and since groups vary in size from a two-person friendship to nations interacting, sociology is a very comprehensive discipline. In periods of rapid social and cultural change, such as the present, sociology is particularly important as a tool for describing and analyzing emergent social problems and social movements. The Department of Sociology aims to provide an awareness of the complexity of social life along with the analytical and creative skills appropriate to the theoretical and applied dimensions of the discipline. Such increased awareness and understanding is intended to lead to fuller and more satisfying personal lives and to a more sophisticated ability to contribute to the world in which we live. Sociology may be seen not only as integral to a liberal arts education but also as sound preparation for careers in social work, law, research, administration, business, government and other fields in which knowledge of human relationships is important. Sociology also provides a solid academic foundation for graduate study in social work, law, business and other disciplines, as well as sociology.

Criminal justice, as an academic discipline, is concerned with the development of knowledge about crime, criminal behavior and those social institutions that deal with crime and criminal behavior (e.g., law enforcement, the criminal courts, and corrections). The criminal justice major at Mount St. Mary’s operates on three fundamental principles: (1) there can be no criminal justice without a commitment to the principles and practices of social justice; (2) critical and logical thinking, problem solving, and clear and effective communication skills must be coupled with technical proficiency if we are to have a well-run system of justice; and (3) a liberal arts education leads to a greater level of professionalism and to a fuller and more meaningful personal life for those pursuing a criminal justice career. As such, this program aims to educate the whole person. The criminal justice major may be seen not only as integral to a liberal arts education, but also as sound preparation for advanced study (i.e., graduate school) and careers in the criminal justice field.

Departmental Learning Goals

At the completion of their studies at Mount St. Mary’s, both sociology and criminal justice majors will understand each of the following:

  • The discipline of sociology (and the subfield of criminal justice) and its role in contributing to our understanding of social reality. Basic concepts in sociology and their fundamental theoretical interrelations, such that the student will be able to (a) define, give examples, and demonstrate the relevance of the following: culture, social change, socialization, stratification, social structure, institutions, and differentiations by race/ethnicity, gender, age, and class, (b) think critically, and (c) develop values to aid in the reduction of the negative effects of social inequality.
  • The role of theory in sociology (and the subfield of criminal justice), such that the student will be able to (a) define theory and describe its role in building sociological knowledge, (b) compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations, (c) show how theories reflect the historical context of times and cultures in which they were developed, (d) describe and apply some basic theories or theoretical orientations in at least one area of social reality.
  • The role of evidence and qualitative and quantitative methods in sociology (and the subfield of criminal justice), such that the student will be able to (a) identify basic methodological approaches and describe the general role of methods in building sociological knowledge, (b) compare and contrast the basic methodological approaches for gathering data, (c) design a research study in an area of choice and explain why various decisions were made, and (d) critically assess a published research report and explain how the study could have been improved.
  • How culture and social structure operate, such that the student will be able to (a) show how institutions interlink in their effects on each other and on individuals, (b) demonstrate how social change factors such as population or urbanization affect social structures and individuals, (c) demonstrate how culture and social structure vary across time and place, and the effect of such variations, and (d) identify examples of specific policy implications using reasoning about social structural effects and, (e) examine reciprocal relationships between individuals and society, such that the student will be able to distinguish sociological approaches from psychological, economic, political science and other approaches in the development of the self.
  • The internal diversity of American society and its place in the international context such that the student will be able to describe (a) the significance of variations by race, class, gender, and age, and (b) will know how to appropriately develop and apply generalizations.