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Undergraduate programs

Sociology

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Sociology is the study of human groups and how the group influences social behavior. The field is both a science and a philosophy, seeking to answer questions about human behavior through the use of scientific methods. Sociology gives us new and important knowledge about the social world. The focus of the sociology major is to prepare students with the methodological background and analytical skills necessary for working in today’s world, while allowing students to gain a basic understanding of a variety of areas within sociology such as social stratification, criminology, social psychology and comparative sociology.

Criminal Justice

Undergrad minor

Criminal justice is a system used for criminal proceedings and punishment. It includes the major areas of law enforcement, corrections, probation, the courts, crime and delinquency. UWL's program focuses on the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that influence definitions of crime, individual offending and crime rates, policy choices about how society responds to crime, and all aspects of the criminal justice system.

Human Rights & Criminal Justice Certificate

Certificate

The right to life, safety, travel, privacy, food, education and health, among other things. These are examples of human rights, essential rights that belong to us as people of this world regardless of our status. Criminal justice is the system used for criminal proceedings and punishment. It includes the major areas of law enforcement, corrections, probation, the courts, crime and delinquency. This program shows us how we can transform criminal justice into a human rights institution.

Featured courses

  • Criminal Justice
    SOC 324 | 3 credits
    This course provides an overview of the United States criminal justice system. Issues relating to various segments of the criminal justice system, such as the administration of justice, the police, courts, and correctional systems are explored. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Corrections and Penology
    SOC 323 | 3 credits
    This course provides an interdisciplinary review of criminal punishment and correctional systems in the U.S. This course examines dominant punishment philosophies such as deterrence, incapacitation, retribution and rehabilitation. Both institutional and community-based approaches to corrections are covered and particular attention is devoted to understanding the social context of current practices, the nature of correctional populations, and the management of correctional systems. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • Delinquency
    SOC 321 | 3 credits
    This course is an overview of the sociological study of delinquency, with special emphasis on competing theoretical perspectives. In the process of learning about theoretical perspectives aimed at explaining delinquency, this course will pay special attention to gender delinquency, gangs, current events regarding delinquency and the U.S. juvenile justice system. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • Criminology
    SOC 322 | 3 credits
    This course provides an overview of the sociological study of crime in the United States, with a special emphasis on patterns of criminality, competing theoretical explanations of crime, and societal responses to crime. As part of the examination of crime in the U.S., the course explores the definitions, measurement, and patterns of various types of criminal behavior; theory and research on crime; the roles of the victim and offender and the implications of public policy. Specific crimes covered include homicide, hate/bias crime, assault, and white-collar crime. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Fall.
  • Sociology of Mental Illness
    SOC 325 | 3 credits
    An examination of mental health and illness, and mental health care systems in the U.S. and other industrialized and non-industrialized societies, including: the processes involved in identifying and recruiting patients into the mental health care system; a social analysis of psychotherapy, including talk therapies, medications, electro-convulsive treatment and psychosurgery; and social organization of mental hospitals and of community mental health centers; socio-legal issues related to mental illness; and a review and synthesis of social psychological and sociological theories relevant to understanding mental health and illness. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101 or PSY 100. Offered Fall.
  • Social Psychology
    SOC 330 | 3 credits
    Social psychology from a sociological perspective. Primary attention is given to social behavior and communication patterns in terms of their genesis and change in the context of social groups and social relationships. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101 or PSY 100. Students may only earn credit in SOC 330 or PSY 241. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Sociopharmacology
    SOC 326 | 3 credits
    The study of the social structural factors related to drug use with emphasis on change at the societal level in dealing with the drug problem. This course examines the current and historical patterns of drug use in society. The emphasis will be on understanding the sequence of initiation, use, and misuse of psychoactive drugs. This course will focus on the social problems and social policy aspects of drugs. Question addressed include: How does society choose which drugs to treat as social problems? What are the potential versus real life effects of current laws and policies intended to curb drug use? What are the treatment and prevention strategies used today? What kinds of programs are successful and why? Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • The American Legal System
    POL 221 | 3 credits
    An introductory survey of the American legal system in operation; utilizing case materials, class discussion, and hypothetical conflict situations to illustrate and study the range of problems, proceedings, actions, and remedies encountered. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Abnormal Psychology
    PSY 204 | 3 credits
    This course introduces students to various clinical presentations of psychopathology that may occur throughout human development from a trauma-informed perspective. It provides an overview of specific psychological disorders as well as disorder-specific etiological considerations, associated clinical features, defining characteristics, and diagnostic criteria. The course also includes overviews of current treatments for the major disorders, and ethical considerations in mental health care. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or PSY 212; sophomore standing. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.
  • Law and Society
    SOC 313 | 3 credits
    This course examines the law as a social construction. This involves exploring the notion that the civil and criminal law, deviance and criminal behavior, and various actors in the legal and criminal justice arenas are not to be taken for granted as natural, inevitable, and objective but rather, as rooted in social and political forces. Thus, this course explores the historical development of the law, social change, inequalities in the application of the law, why we obey or fail to obey the law, and heavily debated contemporary US laws. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Annually.
  • Human Rights Policing
    SOC 333 | 3 credits
    This course focuses on how to apply human rights to the field of criminal justice, in particular, policing. The concept of human rights and its various meanings throughout time and place is analyzed. The course reviews the roles and functions of policing throughout human history, including its more sinister beginnings in the United States. This class challenges mainstream thought, orthodoxy, and voices of the powerful that dominate the fields of criminal justice. Students will move beyond the dominant discourse to better challenge structures of power, question the function of police in society, and scrutinize the age of mass incarceration. While the class offers a critical analysis of policing in society, it also explores alternative and creative solutions to the problems of policing in an increasingly precarious, but exciting, post-modern age. Students will have the opportunity to analyze and evaluate first-hand accounts of police officers applying human rights while in the line of duty. In the end, budding criminal justice professionals, including future police officers, will learn to apply human rights to their careers. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring - Even Numbered Years.
  • Criminology
    SOC 322 | 3 credits
    This course provides an overview of the sociological study of crime in the United States, with a special emphasis on patterns of criminality, competing theoretical explanations of crime, and societal responses to crime. As part of the examination of crime in the U.S., the course explores the definitions, measurement, and patterns of various types of criminal behavior; theory and research on crime; the roles of the victim and offender and the implications of public policy. Specific crimes covered include homicide, hate/bias crime, assault, and white-collar crime. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Fall.
  • Delinquency
    SOC 321 | 3 credits
    This course is an overview of the sociological study of delinquency, with special emphasis on competing theoretical perspectives. In the process of learning about theoretical perspectives aimed at explaining delinquency, this course will pay special attention to gender delinquency, gangs, current events regarding delinquency and the U.S. juvenile justice system. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • Criminology
    SOC 322 | 3 credits
    This course provides an overview of the sociological study of crime in the United States, with a special emphasis on patterns of criminality, competing theoretical explanations of crime, and societal responses to crime. As part of the examination of crime in the U.S., the course explores the definitions, measurement, and patterns of various types of criminal behavior; theory and research on crime; the roles of the victim and offender and the implications of public policy. Specific crimes covered include homicide, hate/bias crime, assault, and white-collar crime. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Fall.
  • Social Psychology
    SOC 330 | 3 credits
    Social psychology from a sociological perspective. Primary attention is given to social behavior and communication patterns in terms of their genesis and change in the context of social groups and social relationships. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101 or PSY 100. Students may only earn credit in SOC 330 or PSY 241. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Sociology of Gender
    SOC 370 | 3 credits
    This course explores the social construction, variation and consequences of gender categories across time and space. It also examines how gender identities are developed and how gender structures our experiences in education, work, families, the media and other institutions. Prerequisite: one of the following: SOC 110, SOC 120, SOC 202, SOC 212, SOC 225, RGS 100, RGS/SOC 105, or RGS/SOC 150. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Methods of Social Research I
    SOC 250 | 3 credits
    This course introduces students to principles and procedures for the quantitative measurement of social phenomena. It emphasizes interpretation and uses of quantitative techniques in sociological data analysis. The primary goal is to provide students with skills and practical application of techniques used to understand how sociologists measure, evaluate and use individual and social indicators such as socioeconomic status, residential segregation, and crime statistics. The department strongly encourages students to take SOC 200 and SOC 250 concurrently. Prerequisite: SOC 110; sociology major. Offered Annually.
  • Methods of Social Research II
    SOC 350 | 3 credits
    An overview of the issues and methods involved in the process of scientific investigation of social phenomena. The limitations of, and ethical issues involved in, social research are examined. Data collection methods, both quantitative and qualitative, including surveys, observation, and secondary data analysis are investigated. Students propose and complete a research project, applying material learned in Sociological Research Methods I, including student application of various research techniques and computer-assisted data analysis. Prerequisite: SOC 200, SOC 250. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Sociological Theory
    SOC 390 | 3 credits
    Sociological theory is a lens that is constructed based on detailed examinations of the world around us, and then used for viewing, studying, and understanding the social world in which we live. Beginning with early attempts to explain society, this course provides a critical survey of social theory and theorists over time, and traces the themes of sociological inquiry into the modern era. Theories covering society, groups, interactions and the human self will be summarized, explored, compared, contrasted, and, most important, applied to help better understand contemporary social conditions and life in modern societies. Prerequisite: SOC 200. Offered Fall, Spring.
  • Qualitative Explorations
    SOC 416 | 3 credits
    This course is designed to familiarize students with the major techniques of qualitative data collection and analysis used by sociologists and other social scientists. These include feminist methods, participant observation, in-depth interviewing, biographical methods, content analysis, archival research, and a variety of nonreactive techniques. This course will also address the links among theory, data, and methods and provide an appreciation for the qualitative tradition in social sciences. Students will learn how to conduct field research. The course will follow a seminar format emphasizing reading, group discussion, in- and out- of class exercises, oral presentations, original research and writing. Prerequisite: SOC 350; SOC 390. Offered Annually.
  • Quantitative Social Research Seminar
    SOC 405 | 3 credits
    This course guides students through the completion of an independent quantitative sociological research project. Students conduct research on a topic related to their own interest within the field of sociology using standard quantitative methods such as survey research, evaluation research, or secondary data analysis. Each student formulates a sociologically relevant research hypothesis, designs the appropriate research methodology, reviews relevant theoretical and empirical literature, and gathers and analyzes data in a step-by-step process. The results of the research process are presented in a formal research paper. Prerequisite: SOC 350; SOC 390. Offered Annually.
  • Surveillance and Society
    SOC 318 | 3 credits
    Surveillance is now a prominent feature in the contemporary, post-9/11 world. In this class we will explore the concept of surveillance, its development, and the various ways that surveillance exists within the social world. This will include an examination of how surveillance intersects with, and is used by, the government and law enforcement, corporations, institutions such as the economy and schools, and you. A major organizing question of the course is this: How is the practice of surveillance changing our social life and our notions of public and private spheres? Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202. Offered Spring - Odd Numbered Years.
  • Society and Schools
    SOC 216 | 3 credits
    A social analysis and review of research on the school as a learning environment, a social organization and a societal institution. Specific topics include classroom interaction, school social climate, social inequalities in the schools, and selected educational controversies. Offered Occasionally.
  • Marriage and Family
    SOC 212 | 3 credits
    The major focus of this course is on understanding the contemporary institutions of marriage and family, and the changes that these institutions have experienced. The influences that gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class and age have on marriage and family experiences will be included in the investigation. Offered Spring.
  • Law and Society
    SOC 313 | 3 credits
    This course examines the law as a social construction. This involves exploring the notion that the civil and criminal law, deviance and criminal behavior, and various actors in the legal and criminal justice arenas are not to be taken for granted as natural, inevitable, and objective but rather, as rooted in social and political forces. Thus, this course explores the historical development of the law, social change, inequalities in the application of the law, why we obey or fail to obey the law, and heavily debated contemporary US laws. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Annually.
  • Demography
    SOC 320 | 3 credits
    This course is designed as a basic survey of the field of demography. Sources of population data will be explored along with causes and consequences of population growth, composition and distribution. This course will focus on the concepts, measurements, trends and theories of the major demographic processes of fertility, mortality and migration. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Social Stratification
    SOC 310 | 3 credits
    The nature, study, theories and types of social stratification systems are examined along with the forces contributing to their maintenance and disruption. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Delinquency
    SOC 321 | 3 credits
    This course is an overview of the sociological study of delinquency, with special emphasis on competing theoretical perspectives. In the process of learning about theoretical perspectives aimed at explaining delinquency, this course will pay special attention to gender delinquency, gangs, current events regarding delinquency and the U.S. juvenile justice system. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • Sociopharmacology
    SOC 326 | 3 credits
    The study of the social structural factors related to drug use with emphasis on change at the societal level in dealing with the drug problem. This course examines the current and historical patterns of drug use in society. The emphasis will be on understanding the sequence of initiation, use, and misuse of psychoactive drugs. This course will focus on the social problems and social policy aspects of drugs. Question addressed include: How does society choose which drugs to treat as social problems? What are the potential versus real life effects of current laws and policies intended to curb drug use? What are the treatment and prevention strategies used today? What kinds of programs are successful and why? Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Spring.
  • Environmental Sociology
    SOC 328 | 3 credits
    This course provides a framework for understanding the relationship between human societies and their physical environment. This course will focus on how environmental sociologists explain the social origins of environmental degradation, how environmental harms are unequally distributed among different communities and nations, and the role of environmental movements in protecting the physical environment. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ENV 201. Offered Spring.
  • Collective Behavior
    SOC 335 | 3 credits
    A systematic study of social processes which emerge in unstructured social situations; principles of behavior as expressed in crowds, mobs, panics, fads, fashions, social movements, personal organization and behavior in unstructured social situations. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Alternate Years.
  • Health Care and Illness
    SOC 420 | 3 credits
    This course introduces students to the social, political, and economic context of health and illness in society. The course is divided into four parts. First, we focus on social factors of illness, with a particular focus on the role of inequality in shaping health risks. We will discuss how we measure and quantify mortality and morbidity and the effect of social context. In the second part of the semester we focus on the meaning and experience of illness, with a particular focus on how different kinds of social deviance become categorized as medical, criminal, or personal issues in different societies and at different times. Next the course will focus on health systems and technologies, especially the political and economic configurations of health care provision in different countries. Finally, the course will consider the role of health professionals and issues of bioethics. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 202 or ANT 101. Offered Fall.
  • Disability and Society
    SOC 308 | 3 credits
    This course is intended to introduce students to the sociological study of disability. In this course, students will study sociological understandings of disability and explore the experiences of people with bodily and mental differences. The sociological study of disability examines the commonalities of social life that exist and persist, despite the presence of biological differences. Additionally, it encourages critical evaluation of the influence of social systems, institutions, professional understandings of disability, and our own assumptions about the disability experience on the well being of people with disabilities and members of their families. Students will examine disability through understandings of identity (personal and collective), inequalities, social movements, social experience, sexualities, gender, race, class, intersectionalities, and physical and mental variation. We will examine the ways in which people with bodily and mental differences construct personal and collective identities and develop, support, and maintain communities; the effects of stigma on experiences of disability; and how disability is constructed by the cultural and structural demands of global capitalist societies. We will also explore the ways in which the experience of disability and disability studies can be used to further sociological understandings and to reexamine and reconceptualize taken-for-granted ideas about social life and experience, the social structure, and sociological theories and methodology. Prerequisite: one of the following: SOC 110, SOC 120, SOC 202, SOC 212, SOC 225, RGS/SOC 150, ANT 101, ANT 102, PSY 100, or PSY 200. Offered Annually.
  • Fat Studies and Body Politics
    SOC 380 | 3 credits
    The purpose of this course is to explore the social construction, medicalization, and pathologization of fat in the United States. Fat will be examined as a social justice issue that intersects with race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. This course will explore the body politics behind attempts to redefine fat identity, including body positive and fat positive movements. This course will also examine fat activism as a means of addressing fatphobia and size discrimination. Emphasis will be placed on the use of historical and empirical evidence to evaluate common myths about fat bodies. Prerequisite: one of the following: RGS/SOC 105, SOC 110, SOC 120, RGS/SOC 150, SOC 202, ANT 195, ANT 202, ANT 212, ERS 100, PSY 100, or RGS 100. Offered Annually.