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Mission and Curricular Philosophy

Mission Statement

The mission of the Sociology department at California State University, San Marcos is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with the knowledge, critical thinking, research, and communication skills necessary to explore, understand, and improve their social worlds.  Our undergraduate curriculum enables students to develop core skills in sociological theory and research methods and to apply and refine those skills in a concentrated area of elective study.  Our graduate curriculum provides a superior academic and professional education to students interested in working with human services and criminal justice agencies, teaching in a community college, or continuing study for a Ph.D.  Both curricula consistently promote awareness of the diversity of human experiences and perspectives.

Curricular Philosophy

Four interrelated emphases underlie the Sociology curriculum at CSU San Marcos. The first reflects the sociological concern with issues of inequality, and how inequality is manifested across racial, ethnic, gender, class, age, and national lines. The second emphasis is on the study of social problems. Third, we provide students with multiple opportunities to engage in social research. Fourth, we encourage experiential education through service to the community.

Many courses in our upper-division curriculum address issues of inequality, in social status, privilege and prestige. These include: Inequality (SOC 311), Race/Ethnic Relations (SOC 313), Sex Roles (SOC 315), Aging and Society (SOC 309), Social Stratification and Classes (SOC 411), Sociology of Women (SOC 305), Latino Communities (SOC 345), Afro-American Communities (SOC 347), and Community and Society (SOC 341).

Several other courses focus on a range of specific social problems that are also often related to issues of inequality. Courses in this area include Juvenile Delinquency (SOC 323), Criminology (SOC 325), American Society and Institutions (SOC 300), Social Change and Social Movements (SOC 353), Social Organizations (SOC 431), Sociology of Education (SOC 413), Social Gerontology (SOC 427), Sociology of Health and Illness (SOC 421), and Law Enforcement (SOC 327).

Courses in social research methods (SOC 360, SOC 361, SOC 497) and statistics (SOC 201) provide training in quantitative and qualitative research strategies in design, data collection, analysis, and dissemination. Within the quantitative component, particular emphases are placed on the development of computer literacy, familiarity with statistical software, and the progressive development of analytic skills. Within the qualitative component, particular emphases are on participant observation, in-depth interviewing, and analyses of textual material. This effort is enhanced and supported by the Social and Behavioral Research Institute which provide students broader opportunities for research training and participation. Students also have the option to carry out a research internship (SOC 499) or independent research project (SOC 498).

One of the special features of the Sociology major is the capstone (SOC 495) internship option. Internships in Community Service involve students working in an agency addressing needs of specific sectors of the community. At the same time, students have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in close collaboration with other students and faculty members.

The Sociology Program is poised to meet the educational needs of students and the larger community in the 21st century. The Sociology faculty are committed to preparing students able to address the demands of a world facing complex social problems. This effort requires sensitivity to inequalities, multicultural diversities, and global interdependencies, combined with the creativity and skill to understand problems and pursue solutions.