About the Department
We believe sociology is a foundational discipline supporting the liberal-arts tradition. The sociological lens provides a powerful analytical tool for explaining, predicting, and understanding human behavior. Sociological insights can be applied to virtually every type of group setting, ranging from families, marriages, and small groups to institutions, organizations, and nations. Originally known as the “science of society,” sociology is especially relevant for the analysis of the causes and consequences of inequality, power and social change in local and global landscapes. We are therefore convinced that students of sociology are in a special position to help to improve the quality of human life.
The mission of the sociology department at VCU is to provide an engaged, learner-centered experience for our students through active involvement in faculty research and community engagement. The substantive focus of our curriculum is one of social justice as related to social inequality and sustainability inside a global framework. Specific attention is paid to issues related to gender and sexuality, reproduction, aging, health disparities, labor, the environment and social movements. Through cutting-edge research using diverse methodologies, excellent undergraduate and graduate teaching emphasizing critical thinking, outreach at the community and /national/international levels, applied opportunities and preparation of students for a wide range of careers, sociology plays a vital role in VCU’s Quest for Distinction.
Our primary objective is to build a well-regarded sociology program offering a vibrant and engaging undergraduate and graduate experience unique to an urban environment. Students at both levels should develop strong analytical and methodological skills in preparation for future academic and/or professional work. To that end, we have set the following goals:
To promote outstanding research in core areas most relevant to the unique VCU experience. Our research examines a variety of substantive topics (see above) and attempts to explain and interpret them within the context of sociological theories. We value and support collaborative efforts involving faculty from other disciplines as well as undergraduate and graduate students. *(Q1.c & Q2)
To promote superior undergraduate and graduate education in a positive learning environment which prepares students for future academic and/or professional success. We are committed to offering students at all levels rigorous courses analyzing social problems and issues through:
- employing scientific principles to understand social life
- Gaining skills in critical thinking, research, and data analysis/interpretation
- Obtaining practical internship experience
- Applying scientific principles to understand social problems
Using both theory and methods, we challenge our students to develop a sociological imagination central to the critical analysis of modern social problems. *(Q1)
Practical Experience and Applied Opportunities:
To provide both undergraduate and graduate students with unique learning opportunities in academic research and the wider community. Opportunities to participate in research projects, internships, and other training programs are important features of sociology at VCU. Students will evaluate, refine, and apply what they learn in the classroom. *(Q4)
To promote the development of new resources and technologies for teaching and research, including on-line learning and interactive instruction. *(Q1.b)
To promote the development of research projects, teaching resources, learning experiences and outreach initiatives that lead to a deeper understanding of our interconnected world. *(Q1.b)
Service and Community Outreach:
To promote service and outreach activities to the wider community through service learning, online resources, certificate programs, internships, and consultation to a variety of organizations. *(Q4.a)
Areas of Expertise
We are a comprehensive program with particular expertise in the following areas:
- Social Inequality – studies of gender, race, class, and sexuality
- Family Studies – studies of family and reproductive issues related to sexuality, poverty, aging, end-of-life care and post-partum/maternal health.
- Social Movements – studies of collective behavior and social movements especially related to environmental, labor and social justice issues.
- Health –studies of macro social factors affecting individual-level health, health behaviors, and psychosocial well-being.
- Methodology – studies incorporating qualitative, quantitative, and network methods, as well as the latest technologies for teaching and research
All of our activities are conducted in accord with our core values:
- Integrity – at all times
- Diversity – inclusion of everyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability
- Community – of scholars, teachers, and people
- Compassion – towards all people and the environment;
- Excellence – commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and service;
- Creativity – using resourceful and innovative solutions to all challenges;
- Collaboration – with colleagues and students inside and outside the program and University.
*Goals align with the VCU Quest for Distinction.