Department Learning Goals

Learning Goals for Theory

  1. Understand theory as a s set of interrelated propositions that provide a coherent explanation of observed reality and suggest a set of questions for further observation.
  2. See how assumptions, concepts and propositions work together to present a coherent, logical explanation of social phenomena.
  3. Understand that theory develops in a social context by building on and critiquing the ideas of others.
  4. Recognize that sociology is a multi-paradigm discipline by developing a basic understanding of several prominent paradigms (including conflict, functionalist, symbolic interactionist, feminist and postmodern theories). 
  5. Demonstrate the ability to apply several theoretical approaches to the same sociological question or issue and to evaluate their relative usefulness.
  6. Develop some in-depth familiarity with the theoretical work of at least two notable classical and contemporary theorists.
  7. Understand that theory and research are complementary and mutually reinforcing. A good theory requires empirical grounding and theory is necessary for the interpretation of data.
  8. Be able to identify the empirical observations that a theory implies and be able to identify the theoretical idea which data imply even if the theory is not stated explicitly.

Learning Goals for Methods


  1. Ask critical questions about the ideas presented as "fact" in contemporary life.
  2. Be able to use the knowledge of research methods to ask meaningful questions about research published in professional journals.
  3. Be familiar with a range of research designs, such as experiment, survey, ethnographic interviews, participant observation and know which designs are most appropriate to use for studying particular questions.
  4. Be able to develop social science research designs including generating a research question, selecting a sample, identifying and measuring variables, and interpreting results.
  5. Show proficiency in using on-line techniques to develop a bibliography on a research question.
  6. Be able to appropriately cite sociological and anthropological sources.
  7. Be able to read and interpret data presented in tables and graphs. 

Learning Goals in Individual and Society


  1. Understand that the lived experience of individuals is a social construction that arises from social context and social location.
  2. Be able to discuss how the self is constructed through social interaction. 
  3. Understand that human choices are shaped through the construction of meaning in symbolic communication. 
  4. Realize that social groups have characteristics independent of their individual members and that these characteristics shape the behavior of the participants.

Learning Goals in Comparative Societies


  1. Comprehend that one can only understand one's own country by understanding how other countries are organized.
  2. Understand the meaning and consequences of modernity, postmodernity and the new globalization. 
  3. Understand how cultures and institutions interact in different societies.
  4. Understand the causes and consequences of social change in terms of general causes and effects as well as unique historical circumstances. 
  5. Understand the causes and consequences of population composition and pressures and how population affects the environment and development of societies.

Learning Goals in Social Inequality


  1. Understand that the categories that form the basis of social inequality are socially constructed. 
  2. Understand that inequality is embedded in all levels of social life, including interpersonal interaction, the structure and practices of groups and organizations, social institutions and relationships among societies. 
  3. Be able to apply a number of different theoretical approaches to understanding social inequality. 
  4. Understand that race/ethnicity, social class, and gender/sexuality shape personality, access to resources, and life chances.
  5. Understand that various forms of social inequality intersect and interact in complex ways.
  6. Develop an in-depth understanding of at least one major form of social inequality. 

Learning Goals in Social Institutions


  1. Understand that a social institution is made up of relatively stable structures, relationships, and ideas organized to meet certain societal needs (examples-medicine, politics, family, science, economy, religion, education).
  2. Understand that "social institution" is both an analytical concept and a social construction.
  3. Understand the relationship between institutions, complex organizations, and social groups.
  4. Understand that any social institution is part of a social system in which it is interrelated with other social institutions.
  5. Be able to apply a number of different theoretical perspectives to the understanding of social institutions.
  6. Understand how social institutions are related to both macro and micro processes.
  7. Develop an in-depth understanding of at least one social institution.


Connecting Levels



  1. Understand how the global world impacts the lived experiences of individuals, groups and organizations. 
  2. Understand how groups of individuals work to transform social experiences, social events, and social institutions.   
  3. Be able to use sociological insights to connect various levels of the social, the everyday world of interaction, the world of organizations and institutions, and the global world in order to understand one's own life, one's society, and international events.