SOCIOLOGY | Understand your world


Sociology majors are creative and innovative critical thinkers with multicultural and global understandings. While at Baker, sociology students learn how societies are organized, how societies change, the nature of social inequality, and the connections between individual behavior and social groups. Students work closely with a faculty advisor to build a personalized undergraduate experience through a social justice minor or one of our areas of concentration—a course of study designed with their interests in mind.

TRY SOMETHING NEW

Baker’s innovative Inside-Out Prison Exchange program allows students to travel weekly to the Topeka Correctional Facility and share a class with incarcerated women. This class—the first of its kind in Kansas—brings together students of different backgrounds, ages, educational levels, and perspectives for in-depth discussions.

CREATE YOUR OWN PATH

Baker’s sociology program offers two concentrations and a minor so students can tailor their degree to their interests: criminal justice, social justice, or public sociology. Our graduates go on to the Peace Corps and Teach For America, or continue their education in graduate schools across the United States.

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

Sociology students have many opportunities for internships in service agencies. We have created partnerships with agencies in Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City headed by alumni and community leaders. 

DOUBLE UP

A major in sociology combined with another discipline can expand your professional and academic opportunities. Sociology students often double major in business, psychology, or Spanish.


NEAL | Sociology Major, Class of 2016

Neal began an internship in law enforcement at the start of the spring semester and a few weeks into it his supervisor thought he was already so well trained and prepared that he was offered a part-time job. So instead of completing the internship, he is working part time, with a badge, enforcing the law and keeping us safe. He’ll start the police academy a few days after graduation and has a great, full-time job lined up.

KATIE | Sociology Major, Class of 2017

“Although I was initially unsure what to pursue as a career, I was certain that I wanted to focus on helping others. Eventually, I determined that sociology was a great fit for me. Majoring in sociology provides unlimited career opportunities in many fields due to the discipline’s focus on people and communication. I plan to further my education in public health or epidemiology and eventually work in the health communications or research field. I now see the world in a different light, and it’s because my professors have reached me on a personal level. I will leave Baker with a great education, strong networking ties, and aspirations to impact the lives of others in ways that I never knew were possible before.”

CAYLEA | Sociology Major, Class of 2017

“I feel like my experience at Baker has helped me push myself to achieve my goals and prepared me for life after college in a way that other universities do not. Everyone here makes an effort to get to know you on a personal level and take an interest in your success rather than just getting you through to graduation.”


CAREERS

Our sociology majors have landed the following jobs:

  • Community workers with nonprofit agencies
  • Social worker
  • Police officer and Investigator
  • Health services and family services
  • Teaching

Learn about opportunities for graduates with a degree in sociology.

%

of graduates are employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

CONCENTRATIONS & MINOR

Criminal Justice Concentration

Students in criminal justice explore every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system to become counselors, probation officers, police officers, and lawyers. Our students combine their interests to create an individualized program of study.

Students interested in criminal forensics minor in or double major in either biology or chemistry. Students interested in white-collar crime and criminal justice may also choose to minor in or double major in accounting, business, or computer science.

Students interested in these fields major in sociology and choose 12 credit hours from among the following courses for an emphasis in criminal justice:

  • Criminology
  • Youth and Crime
  • Computers, Crime, and Deviance
  • Criminal Justice
  • Sociology of Deviant Behavior
  • Sociology of Law
Public Sociology Concentration

Our courses in this concentration are aimed at developing civic-minded students who want to help their community. Many of our grads go on to earn master’s degrees in social work or work in juvenile group homes, with aging populations, or in other human services.

Students interested in these fields can earn a concentration in public sociology by completing 12 credit hours from the following courses:

  • Sociology of the Family
  • Social Class and Status
  • Sociology of the Life Course
  • Community and Social Capital
  • Criminal Justice
  • Sociology of Medicine
  • Sociology of Deviant Behavior
  • Power, Politics, and Modernity
Social Justice Minor

The study of social justice helps students understand how gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexuality, and other differences interact to create social division and conflict. Our students learn how to better resolve conflicts as actively and intentionally engaged members of society. The minor requires basic theoretical grounding as well as hands-on experience in the field. Requirements for the minor include two core courses, three electives, and a field experience course.

Goals of the Minor

  • Explore social justice and the way gender, race and ethnicity, social class, and sexuality intersect
  • Enable students to recognize and strengthen the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to social and community change
  • Help students critique traditional disciplinary knowledge and analytical skills for understanding how knowledge is grounded in human experience.
  • Further college and societal goals of diversity and their relationship to society
  • Meet societal needs for building civility and respect between social groups
Course Descriptions

R: course can be repeated for credit; P/NC: course graded on a pass/no credit basis

Courses required for these programs are listed in the current catalog.

SO 112 – Anthropology

This course is a general introduction to physical and cultural anthropology. Among the topics covered are human evolution and cross-cultural considerations of major social institutions such as kinship, the family, religion, and economic and political systems. (3 credit hours)

SO 115 – Principles of Sociology

Intended as an introduction to the major themes of sociology, this course examines the basic concepts and methods of sociology, social structure, culture, socialization, the family, population, deviance, and social change. This course is required for Sociology majors. (3 credit hours)

SO 241 – Social Change

This course examines the nature of social organization and the means through which social structures are changed. The role and significance of status, social stratification, governments, technology, modernization, and social conflict are emphasized, as is the understanding of both historical and contemporary social change efforts and issues. Prerequisite: SO 115 or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 242 – Society and the Individual

An essential goal of sociology is to understand the dynamic relationship between social structures and individual values and behaviors. This course explores the nature of human interaction in its social context. Primary focus is given to the study of the relationship between norms, social roles, and society. The course also discusses the nature of social identities, social transactions, and the development of the “self.” How each of these applies to gender and sexuality, obedience and conformity, socialization, and groups will also be discussed. Prerequisite: SO 115 or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 243 – Social Inequality

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of social inequality and the dynamics of social status creation and differentiation. The focus is on the significance of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and social class in social structures and social interactions. The course offers an exploration of social inequality, including a review of current sociological explanations of social inequality and conflict. Students will develop an empirical understanding of social differences, as well as discuss what role Marxism, feminism, and other approaches offer in developing a critique of social inequality. Prerequisite: SO 115 or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 274 – Methods of Social Research

This course combines theoretical and practical knowledge in the study of the various methodologies employed in social research. As part of this course, students develop research skills by participating in the design and execution of a survey research project and the analysis of data obtained during that study. It is expected that students taking this course will be familiar with basic statistical techniques. (Cross-listed as PS 274.) (3 credit hours)

SO 320 – Theory in Sociology

This course will explore the major theoretical traditions in sociology. Students will examine traditional frameworks, beginning with the works considered to be ‘founding’ to the discipline, as well as the work of contemporary theorists. This course is designed to help students learn how selected theoretical frameworks in sociology guide scientific and humanistic study of society and social phenomena. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 325 – Criminology

This course examines various types of criminal behavior including property crime, violent crime, political offenses, white-collar crime, and organized and professional crime. A study of the causes of criminal behavior and the social reaction to such behavior is also included. This course is normally considered as the second in the sequence of courses developed for students interested in the study of crime and criminal justice. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 328 – Sociology of the Family

This course is based on the interaction of the family with its environment and the interaction among the members of the family. It focuses on marriage and family adjustments both from the personal and professional family service perspective. Students will complete a service learning project as part of their study of the family. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 329 – Gender and Sexuality

Sociologists distinguish between biological sex and socially constructed gender. This means that we are not born knowing how men and women are supposed to behave, but instead that we learn “appropriate” gender roles through socialization. The course explores various questions such as: How do we learn what is feminine and what is masculine, and what implications do these concepts have? What is the relationship between gender roles and gender inequality? With this base we will be able to explore perspectives and theories on sexuality and discuss questions such as: How is sexuality determined? How is our understanding of sexuality shaped by gender norms? The course will also consider the relationship between gender and sexuality across a range of issues including: education, the family, work, crime/violence, media, public policy, and social movements. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 330 – Race and Ethnicity

The primary goal of this course is to understand how behavior and definitions of race and ethnicity are shaped by particular social processes. This course will examine race and ethnicity as constructs of social difference and understand the role these constructs play in creating social inequality, both of which impact the relationships and interactions of those considered in the majority with those considered in the minority. Topics of study include discrimination, racism, labor relations, education, violence, and social change. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 331 – Social Class and Status

This course will critically examine and analyze social class, poverty, and stratification, with an emphasis on inequality in American society. The leading theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues in stratification will be considered, and the causes and consequences of social inequality, stratification, and mobility will be examined. Particular attention will be given to the general stratification structure, the middle class, and the rich. Students will become aware of the nature and consequences of stratification and come to realize how stratification affects all aspects of social life. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 337 – Community and Social Capital

This course deals with the rise of the city in history, its ecology, and its institutions. Urbanization as a social process is considered in detail. Field investigation of an urban center is integral to this course. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 338 – Life Course

Societal age structure, age status and age-sex roles, correlates of aging, continuities and discontinuities during the life cycle, intergenerational relations, and social policy regarding aging and the aged are considered in this course. Students will complete a service learning project as part of their study of aging and society. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 344 – Youth and Crime

This course is designed to explore the nature and extent of criminal behavior by individuals under 18 years of age, and to differentiate this behavior from a variety of other forms of deviance. Students will be introduced to the nature and extent of delinquency in American society, and review classic theoretical explanations for why delinquency occurs. Various social contexts of delinquency are explored through selected social institutions and their relationship to delinquent behavior. The last half of the course is focused on understanding the unique, formalized system of “justice” developed in the United States in response to juvenile delinquency. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 345 – Computers, Crime, and Deviance

This course will explore the ways in which Internet technology now organizes and presents opportunities for deviance in modern society. Students will explore the nature of Internet deviance from a normative and reactive perspective in order to discern the sociological dimensions of technologically-created deviant forms. Topics to be discussed include consumer fraud, hate groups and hate speech, pornography, cybersex, terrorism and threats, hacking, and identity theft. Students will also study policy responses to these deviant forms, reporting on the ways in which deviance on the Internet is subject to “social control.” The goal of the course is to apply a sociological framework to these aspects of deviance and study the role Internet technology plays in our current understanding of deviance in society. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 346 – Criminal Justice

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the various processes used to prevent and control crime, as well as to examine the nature, extent, and implications of these processes on crime and American society. The bulk of this course will focus on explanations employed by sociologists to explain why/how the stages of the criminal justice system (police, courts, and corrections) handle crime and offenders. The course is divided into four sections, with each of the last three sections being organized around a major stage in the criminal justice system. Sections include Strategies, The Police, The Courts, and Corrections. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 360 – Methods of Teaching Sociology

This course is designed to help student teachers at the secondary level to understand the different methods of instruction which are appropriate to the teaching of sociology. It examines strategies and resources commonly used in the discipline and provides an understanding of contemporary curriculum practices in secondary schools. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor; ED 100 and 243; junior status recommended. (3 credit hours)

SO 363 – Religion, Ritual, and Belief

This course examines the major contributions of the social scientist to the study of religious institutions, the various forms and social functions of religion, the structure of religious behavior and organization, and the relation between religious institutions and other social institutions. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (Cross-listed as RE 363.) (3 credit hours)

SO 364 – Culture and Society

This course surveys the major themes and questions in the sociology of culture. This includes careful study of the classical treatment of culture found in the works by Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, along with an examination of the role that culture plays in creative, organizational, and technological production. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 372 – Sociology of Medicine

This course is an introduction to new and expanding fields of medical sociology: disease and the sick person, health practices and practitioners, health institutions, and the cost and organization of health services and medical attention. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 377 – The Sociology of Deviant Behavior

This course examines the definitions, theories, and behavioral systems associated with various types of deviant behavior in contemporary society. Among the forms of deviance studied are drinking behavior, drug use, mental illness, sexual deviance, and suicide. This is normally the third course in the sequence of courses designed for those interested in crime and criminal justice. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 378 – Social Identity

This course explores the ways that people make sense of their social worlds. This exploration will include the study of cognitive process—such as perception, memory, and judgment—while looking at important sociological problems. This study will include the examination of various social behaviors and institutions, such as: How do social stereotypes, collective identities, and urban legends evolve and proliferate? How do social outcomes—from presidential elections to traffic jams—depend on our beliefs and on our beliefs about others’ beliefs? Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 380 – Law and Society

Law is a form of social control in many societies. This course will explore the nature of law and social control in America and will study law as a social institution using a variety of sociological perspectives. Topics addressed include the history of law and the relationship between law and culture, the various roles of actors in the legal system (lawyers, judges, witnesses), understanding aspects of law-abiding behavior, and the influence of judicial decisions on social issues. Students will participate in a mock trial or moot court as part of the course requirement. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

SO 410 – Power, Politics, and Society

Political sociology is the study of the relationships between society and politics. Students will become familiar with the conceptual ways in which sociologists study the relationship between social structures and social interactions and politics. Topics studied include power, elite formations, political movements, and political culture. The course will consider a number of accounts (qualitative, quantitative, historical, and comparative) of social life in order to uncover the political nature of society and human interaction. Emphasis is placed on student applications of these frameworks and the development of diverse approaches to understanding political processes. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in sociology or permission of the instructor. (Cross listed as PS 410.) (3 credit hours)

SO 493 – Senior Seminar in Sociology

This is the capstone course for students who major in Sociology. Each student will select a topic that relates to his/her interest in sociology and complete a final project related to that topic. Each project will require the examination, analysis, and presentation of a research experience that explores questions based upon theory in sociology. The research experience will include a seminar paper, formal oral presentation, and evaluations by peers and program faculty. Prerequisites: Senior status or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

Scholarships

The Department of History, Culture, and Society gives these awards with financial prizes to be applied to the following year’s tuition:

  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Social Sciences
  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Philosophy and Religion
  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for History
  • Dorothy J. and James F. Hilgenberg Scholarship
  • Gilbert and Martha Jane Lewis Ferguson Scholarship
  • Brune Memorial Scholarship
  • Paul Dick Scholarship
  • Warren E. and Marion Rhodes DeSpain Scholarship in Church Leadership
  • Thomas G. Manson and Frances B. Manson Scholarship

STUDENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

DIALOGOS RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.

FACULTY

Jake Bucher

Dr. Jacob Bucher

Dean of the School of Professional and Graduate Studies | jacob.bucher@bakerU.edu

B.A. Baker University, M.A. University of Memphis, M.A. Emory University, Ph.D. Emory University
Office: Overland Park Campus | 785.594.8475

TIm Buzzell

Dr. Tim Buzzell

Professor of Sociology | tim.buzzell@bakerU.edu
It was an interest in both law and law-breaking that drove Dr. Timothy Buzzell to his chosen field. Being able to work with students, discovering patterns in surveys or getting those “a ha!” moments in class is what has kept him passionate about teaching. But, at the end of the day, its the “refined, cultured set of nerds” in the Department of History, Culture, and Society that makes his job amazing.

B.A., M.P.A. Drake University; Ph.D. Iowa State University
Expertise: computer crime and Internet deviance, sociology of ritual and holidays, political sociology and extremist groups
Office: Parmenter Hall 16 | 785.594.4598

Carrie Coward Bucher

Dr. Carrie Coward Bucher

Assistant Professor of Sociology | carrie.cowardbucher@bakerU.edu

For Dr. Carrie Coward Bucher, it was her passion for learning and helping the homeless that brought her to her field. In her words, sociology allows people to dream and explore broadly about the causes and consequences of social phenomena. And when she is surrounded by “serious and curious students and colleagues,” she is continually challenged to learn more every single day.

B.S. Furman University; M.A., Ph.D. Emory University
Expertise: homelessness, inequalities, identity, and popular culture
Office: Parmenter Hall | 785.594.4536

CONTACT US

Kris Oehlert
Department Assistant
History, Culture, and Society
Office: Parmenter 21A
785.594.7867
kris.oehlert@bakeru.edu