SociologyThe Whitworth Sociology Department’s mission is to prepare students with the skills to describe, explain, interpret and make a difference in social life. The department equips students to promote well-being in the arenas of social life around them and encourages students to explore the relationships between sociology and faith. To these ends, students are expected to master the substantive content of sociology and its methods of research and data analysis, to develop an ideal vision of social life as informed by sociology and their deepest convictions, and to be prepared to advance that vision through a career and social engagement. The faculty is committed to providing excellence in teaching, scholarship and mentoring, and to modeling community engagement through research, writing, consultation and service. In addition, the faculty help foster a stimulating and supportive learning community and offer perspectives on social life and social issues from a variety of value frameworks and Christian traditions.

The learning outcomes of this major prepare students to do the following:

  • Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of humans as social and cultural beings and the implications of that for responsible participation in social life.
  • Demonstrate a mastery of the content of sociology in terms of the following:
    • understanding the theoretical and conceptual core of sociology and one of the three specialized tracks within the major;
    • understanding the breadth of human social experience across cultures, race, class, gender and social contexts;
    • understanding the nature of social problems and showing an ability to propose effective ways to treat harmed persons and make preventive structural changes in light of a vision of social well-being;
    • having a critical appreciation of sociology, its promise and limitations, and its connections with broader conversations about the human story.
  • Demonstrate skills in the following:
    • conducting and assessing social research, computing, and data analysis;
    • accessing and using reliable sources of sociological data and analysis;
    • evaluating the adequacy of ideas, assumptions and data about social life that they encounter within and outside of sociology;
    • oral, written and presentational communication.
  • Be able to understand, respect, communicate and work with people different from themselves.
  • Work to clarify their faith commitments, values and deepest convictions, and relate them in meaningful ways to sociology, to social issues, and to the way they conduct their lives.
  • Be prepared for engagement with the world by doing the following:
    • identifying a career of service and social action that expresses who they are and that makes a difference in the world;
    • being able to act as responsible participants in social life, attentive to the social life around them and prepared to promote social well-being among their neighbors here and across the globe.

Requirements for a Major in Sociology, B.A. (42)

All tracks require the following core courses: (15)

SO 120Introduction to Sociology3
SO 320WThe Sociological Tradition: Theories in Context3
SO 337Social Research3
SO 338Statistical Analysis in Sociology3
SO 478Contemporary Sociology: Perspectives and Practice3

Track I: Social and Cultural Analysis (42)

Core courses15
Six credits in analysis of social institutions and communities:6
Race and Ethnicity
Marriage, Sex and Gender
Introduction to Social Welfare
Families and Society
Cities and Urban Life
Sports and Society
Six credits in analysis of social processes:6
Population, Environment and Society
Deviance, Crime and Criminal Justice
Social Stratification: Power, Prestige And Wealth
Delinquency and Juvenile Justice
Making Change: Social Intervention Strategies
Six credits in cross-cultural analysis:6
Participation in a cross-cultural learning program is strongly recommended, including such choices as:
Central America Study Program (12 credits)
Contemporary South Africa
Other department-approved experiences in cross-cultural learning
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Sociology of Middle-Eastern Society
Latin American Politics
Nine approved sociology credits9

Track II: Social Service and Community Action (42)

Core courses15
SO 271Introduction to Social Welfare3
SO 368The Helping Process in Social Services3
SO 425Making Change: Social Intervention Strategies3
SO 475Sociology Practicum3
Twelve credits from the following:12
Race and Ethnicity
Marriage, Sex and Gender
Deviance, Crime and Criminal Justice
Social Stratification: Power, Prestige And Wealth
Families and Society
Cities and Urban Life
Delinquency and Juvenile Justice
Three approved sociology credits3

Track III: Criminal Justice (42)

Core courses15
SO 220Race and Ethnicity3
PO 223Law and Society3
SO 283Deviance, Crime and Criminal Justice3
SO 370Delinquency and Juvenile Justice3
SO 475Sociology Practicum3
Nine credits from the following:9
Introduction to Social Welfare
Social Stratification: Power, Prestige And Wealth
Families and Society
Cities and Urban Life
The Helping Process in Social Services
Making Change: Social Intervention Strategies
Three approved sociology credits3

Note: One writing-intensive course is required.

Requirements for a Sociology Minor (15)

SO 120Introduction to Sociology3
Four additional courses in sociology chosen in consultation with a sociology advisor12


SO 120 Introduction to Sociology3
Examination of the concepts, methods and findings sociologists use to understand social life in the U.S. and other cultures. Analysis of social groups and processes, from families and cities to crime, social change, and inequalities of gender, race and class. Exploration of social problems and how to make a difference. Fall and spring semesters.
SO 196 Topics in Sociology1-3
Selected lower-division topics in sociology. Periodic offering.
SO 200 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology3
This course has two basic objectives: to develop a framework for understanding other cultures and to learn skills to communicate that understanding. Through a systematic investigation of the nature of culture and a comparative study of cultures and peoples known to humankind at the present time, it is expected that we can better understand ourselves and the social world around us. Offered Jan Term in Hawaii.
SO 220 Race and Ethnicity3
Examines racial and ethnic relations around the world, with emphasis on the United States. Students explore race as a social construct and its intersections with class, gender and immigrant status. Emphasis is put on racism within social institutions along with analysis of beliefs and privilege at the individual level. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 222 U.S. Civil Rights Movements3
This course explores social movements by focusing on a single case the US Civil Rights Movement. The course looks at the history of the civil rights movements as a vehicle to explore the dynamics of social movements. Prerequisites: SO 120. Jan Term.
SO 225 Aging and Society3
Examine biopsychosocial and spiritual perspectives of aging of the individual in conjunction with historical, cultural, political and economic issues of aging. Interact with older adults as guides to theoretical perspectives. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 230 Sociology of Education3
This course explores the relationship between education and society: why some students advance further than others; what shapes the organization of schools; how race, class, and gender interact with education; and educational reform. Prerequisite: SO 120. Spring semester.
SO 238 Sociology of Middle-Eastern Society3
An overview of geography, history, demographic characteristics, social stratification, political behavior, socio-religious institutions, revolutionary change, problems of diversity, complementarity and integration in the people and cultures of the Middle East, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the gulf crisis and its aftermath; the Middle East and international inequality; and prospects for peace and the future. Fall semester.
SO 243 Marriage, Sex and Gender3
Examination of marriage and intimate relationships in the U.S. today. Sociological research and value perspectives are used to understand such issues as mate selection, cohabitation, careers and marriage, power, communication and conflict, diverse marriage styles, divorce and remarriage. Major emphasis given to the nature and dynamics of sexuality and gender in intimate relationships. Faith perspectives on marriage, sex, and gender are explored. Prerequisite: SO 120. Jan Term.
SO 252 Sociology of Gender3
This course will cover topics related to the construction, development, and impact of gender in society. Students will examine how are gender intersects with race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and other dimensions of identity. Finally, students will look at the relationship between family, education, the media, politics, economics, and religion. Students will be asked to consider the role of faith and values and how that shapes our understanding of gender in society. Prerequisites: SO 120 or WG 201.
SO 271 Introduction to Social Welfare3
Examine the theory and practice of social welfare in social and historical context. Develop an understanding of the variety of at-risk populations served by public and private agencies and look at the ways in which we attempt to provide for their welfare. Thoughtfully consider social welfare in light of Christian faith. Prerequisite: SO 120. Fall semester.
SO 272H Honors Sociology of Religion: Religious Ecology3
This course offers a hands-on, in-depth exploration of one approach within sociology of religion - religious ecology. Religious ecology does not refer to religious and theological approach to ecological issues such as the environment or global climate change. Rather this is an approach that seeks to understand religious institutions and organizations by examining them within their own ecological context: by situating them within their local social, cultural, demographic and organizational contexts.
SO 275 Population, Environment and Society3
Exploration of the ways population and environmental characteristics influence and are influenced by social and cultural life. Students gain skill in analyzing population structure and dynamics using demographic data sources. Population and environmental problems and alternatives for change will be examined in light of sociological and faith perspectives. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 283 Deviance, Crime and Criminal Justice3
Analysis of crime and deviance and the efforts to control them. Focus on the nature, causes and consequences of crime and deviance, from such things as drug and alcohol abuse to interpersonal violence and corporate crime. An assessment of the criminal justice system, including police, courts and corrections, and examination of alternative approaches. Faith perspectives on deviance, crime and criminal justice are explored. Field observations required. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 296 Topics in Sociology1-3
Selected topics in sociology. Periodic offering.
SO 303 Globalization and Social Change And Wealth3
Globalization and Social Change is an introduction to global studies from sociological and interdisciplinary perspectives. The course will examine economic, political, cultural, and social ties between nations, drawing on theories and concepts from several disciplines that include international studies, political science, economics and the humanities in addition to sociology. Topics to be covered include global social movements, global inequality, the media, and the spread of western cultures and ideologies.
SO 305 Social Stratification: Power, Prestige And Wealth3
Analysis of cultural and social structural processes that bring about social inequality and stratification. Examination of life chances and lifestyles of the privileged and underprivileged and exploration of the relationship between public policy and the situation of the rich and poor. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 307 Latin American Politics3
Explore the wide range of problems facing Latin American societies based on their past under-development. Takes a thematic approach, focusing on subjects as diverse as the military, peasants, Indians, U.S. foreign policy, multinational corporations, urbanization and education. Build an understanding of Latin America using the resources of sociology. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 310 Interpretations of Modern Society3
Interpretations of modern American society and culture are examined in this seminar, with particular focus on issues of individualism and community. What is the good society? How does our society compare to that ideal? This is an effort to understand and evaluate modernity and to develop personal visions of the good society as a basis for responsible action. Prerequisite: SO 120. Jan Term. Periodic offering.
SO 311 Families and Society3
Family, kinship and marriage in societal context. Human families in their many forms are examined cross-culturally and historically; primary emphasis is upon the changing shape and character or American families today. Impact of class, race and values on family life is explored. Special focus is on parent-child relations and the problems of children in American families. Prerequisite: SO 120. Fall semester.
SO 311W Families and Society3
Family, kinship and marriage in societal context. Human families in their many forms are examined cross-culturally and historically; primary emphasis is upon the changing shape and character or American families today. Impact of class, race and values on family life is explored. Special focus is on parent-child relations and the problems of children in American families. Continuing Studies only.
SO 312 South Africa Program Preparation1
Study of the key issues facing contemporary South Africa, including the perspectives of different racial, political, social, religious and economic groups. Taken in preparation for SO 341.
SO 315 Funding and Grant Writing3
Identification of potential funding sources and preparation of application documents is covered. Analysis of successful grants and assistance from local resources will be reviewed. Individuals who work for entities who depend on grants and outside funding should take this course. For continuing studies evening students only.
SO 318 Globalization, Ecology, Gender in Central America4
Examination of the interconnected aspects of globalization, gender and ecology in Central America, in the light of the conceptions of biblical and social justice. Prerequisite: SO 307. Every third spring semester in Central America.
SO 320W The Sociological Tradition: Theories in Context3
An examination of the emergence of sociology and sociological thought focusing on the men and women who developed sociology and how their questions and perspectives were shaped by philosophical and social contexts. The course will assess the sociological tradition, explore how it helps us understand contemporary society, and relate it to faith perspectives. Prerequisite: SO 120. Fall semester.
SO 325 Sociology of Death and Dying3
Looks at death due to both disease process and trauma. Elements of study will include various care giving options; emotional aspects associated with lengthy dying process v. traumatic death; as well as loss and grief; cultural influences regarding care/treatment; religious/spiritual influences; legal and business issues.
SO 337 Social Research3
Designing, conducting and interpreting research in an essential skill required of many modern occupations. In this class in organized curiosity, students receive experience in social research by participating in the design and implementation of a class research project. Valuable skills in problem formulation, research design, measurement, questionnaire construction, interviewing, data collection and analysis will be gained as the student encounters these issues in our class research project. Prerequisite: SO 120 and two other sociology courses. Fall semester.
SO 338 Statistical Analysis in Sociology3
Learn how to use the computer to do statistical analysis. Become familiar with some basic statistical procedures and develop skills ranging from simple tasks of data entry, data management, data transformation, defining data files and file editing to more complex tasks of univariate, bivariate and multivariate statistical data analysis. Hands-on experience using SPSS software. Prerequisite: SO 120. Spring semester.
SO 341 Contemporary South Africa3
Also listed as HI 341 and PO 341.
SO 343 Sociology of Religion3
How can one make sense of religion? A variety of theoretical and methodological ""ways of looking"" will be used in an attempt to understand religious behavior. Religion will be explored both as it is affected by its social context and as it affects society. Sociology has been seen as both serious threat to cherished religion and a valuable tool for ministry. Both tensions and conversations between Christianity and sociology will be examined. Prerequisite: SO 120. Periodic offering.
SO 345 Development Strategies in Central America4
A service-learning and field development experience with agencies such as the Center for Christian Development, World Vision, Habitat for Humanity and other in Central America. Prerequisite: SO/PO 307. Every third spring semester in Central America.
SO 346 Exploring Central America: Methodology and Comparative Sociology4
Sociological methods and concepts will be used in a comparative study of Central-American and U.S society and culture. Ethnography will be a beginning place for developing cross-cultural understanding. The field setting will make it possible for tentative explanations of behavior to be tested, modified and discarded on a daily basis. Openness to a wide variety of points of view and to contradictory data will require the development of critical-thinking skills. Prerequisite: SO 307. Every third semester in Central America.
SO 362 Developmental and Institutional Structures of Central America3
Work experience with agencies such as Habitat for Humanity and exposure to a wide variety of underdeveloped communities will provide a basis for examining Central-American development. We will explore the impact on development of institutions such as religion, politics, economic institutions, education, the arts, and leisure as well as public and private agencies, and foreign aid. Examine the impact of development on the individual, the family, the community, the municipality, the nation and the region. Prerequisite: SO 307. Every third year in Central America.
SO 365 Cities and Urban Life3
Develop skills for understanding today's urban world. Explore the development of the city, patterns of urban settlement, the influence of urban environment upon group life and individual personality, the pathology and possibilities of urban life, and social aspects of urban planning. Examine the situation of the ""truly disadvantaged"" and learn how to explore an urban subculture. The real city as a learning laboratory: literature, games, guests, movies, field trips, class TV studies and field projects. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 368 The Helping Process in Social Services3
Learn to use core concepts, values, and skills for helping people in social-service settings. Become familiar with interviewing, assessing and behaving professionally in these settings. A Christian view of the helping process will be integrated with the skills and knowledge.
SO 370 Delinquency and Juvenile Justice3
The class will review prominent theories on delinquency causation and will use these theories to understand case examples of people who exhibit delinquent behavior. A firsthand introduction to the components, agencies, programs and trends in the juvenile-justice system will move from theory to more pragmatic concerns. Prerequisite: SO 120. Spring semester.
SO 377 Sects and Violence3
This course investigates the organizational dynamics of new religious movements: seeking to understand why/how they proliferate, and exploring processes of recruitment. We will also examine conflicts of these movements with churches, anti-cult organizations, and the state. Prerequisite: SO 120.
SO 396 Topics in Sociology1-3
Selected upper-division topics in sociology. Periodic offering.
SO 425 Making Change: Social Intervention Strategies3
Learn to use a 'sociological imagination' to explore the relationship between personal troubles and public issues while examining a variety of social problems. Examine steps, strategies, approaches and skills used to make change while developing an understanding of neighborhoods, communities and organizations. Experience change firsthand and apply course material by participating in a service learning project outside the classroom. Prerequisite: SO 120 and SO 337. Spring semester.
SO 430 Sports and Society3
Interrelationships of sports with other aspects of culture. Role of sports in American society. Prerequisite: SO 120. Also listed as KIN 430. Spring semester.
SO 475 Sociology Practicum3
Through placement in a social agency, students apply their sociological understandings and develop new questions and insights to enrich their sociology. Interns meet in a cluster-group seminar to learn together and process their experiences. Prerequisite: SO 120. Junior or senior sociology major. Spring semester.
SO 478 Contemporary Sociology: Perspectives and Practice3
A capstone course for senior sociology majors. Contemporary sociological perspectives are examined, from neo-Marxist to postmodern sociologies. Diverse forms of sociological practice are explored with emphasis upon how sociologists connect their personal commitments with sociological practice. Students clarify how they will ""live their sociology."" Prerequisite: SO 320W. Spring semester.
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