Welcome to the Department of Sociology and Social Studies

Since its founding in the 1960s, the Sociology and Social Studies Department’s mission and goals have rested firmly on five pillars:

  • to provide undergraduate and graduate programs in sociology and interdisciplinary social science characterized by relevance and excellence;
  • to support the university’s broad educational goals and programming by providing service classes for other programs in the traditions of collegiality and the liberal arts;
  • to serve the public interest of the people of the province, the region, and the nation in its teaching, research and public service activities;
  • to safeguard, sustain, and participate actively in the democratic and collegial governance of the university;
  • to defend, sustain, and realize in its program the broad philosophical and educational goals of a liberal arts education.

“Sociology” is derived from the Latin, socius, or society, and the Greek, logos, or science.  Hence, literally sociology is the scientific study of society.  But it is a unique science, because it is the study of ourselves and our social lives.  Modern sociology can be best thought of as the systematic study and analysis of the social relationships, patterns of behaviour and experiences that characterize and make up human society.  The sociological approach differs not so much in what it studies, but in how it views or approaches human social behaviour.  It could be said that sociology is more a way of thinking, what C. Wright Mills called “the sociological imagination,” than it is an established and accepted body of concepts and theories.  Sociologists assume that human behaviour can only be properly understood in the context of larger social and historical structures and processes. Humans are understood to be the “products” of social structures; however, these social structures are in turn understood as the outcome of human social action.