Ever wonder why people around you do the things they do? Take a sociology class and you will find many answers to this question!

Sociology is the scientific study of social life. Sociologists identify patterns in the social world and then conduct research to explain those patterns. For example, why do girls tend to wear pink, while boys wear blue? Are we all as individual as we think we are? Why do people avoid looking at each other in an elevator? Why do people from small towns tend to talk and act differently than people in large cities? Why do people go to the doctor for a broken arm, but avoid help for depression? Sociologists explain how much the rules and organization of society that we humans invent has a large impact on who we are.

Human behavior is shaped by:

  • Culture
  • Socialization
  • Institutions
  • Social structure
  • Inequality (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and more!)
  • The humans we interact with

It is my hope that the topics and readings we discuss in this course will cast a new light on some of your prior assumptions and knowledge about the social world. During the semester we will engage in P R A X I S—an ongoing process of learning-action-reflection-reformulation. You will have ample opportunity to investigate your social world and do group activities. My expectation is that students will come to class prepared, curious, with a list of questions in mind! We will create a vibrant  l e a r n i n g   c o m m u n i t y  and draw upon each other as resources. I am sure that you also have expectations of me, and I look forward to learning what those are.

Instruction and assessment will include

  • readings and film
  • large and small-group discussion
  • short reflection papers
  • role playing
  • application of course material to current events
  • end-of-course presentation 

Introduction to Sociology will be taught by Assistant Professor Joslyn Brenton.

Dr. Brenton writes:

I grew up in a rural town in Maine. I had never heard of sociology until I took a course my first year of college. I soon switched my major! After I finished college I spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, West Africa. While there I became fascinated with how other cultures view the body and medicine. Today I study and teach about health and illness (among other things). I see the classroom as a transformative space for students and for myself. In my courses I focus on how multiple inequalities (e.g., race, class, and gender) shape the way people think about and experience health and illness. I love when students ask questions, as I think this is an essential component of learning. In my courses we examine questions like: Is health a basic human right? Who has the power to define what health and illness mean? Is Western medicine the best medicine? I look forward to seeing you in my classroom!