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Phone: (209) 946-2101
Location: Wendell Phillips Center

Ethel Nicdao, Chair

Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Arts

Majors Offered


Minors Offered


Sociology offers students an understanding of the social structure, social interactions, and an appreciation of the complexities of human societies, large and small. The program provides a groundwork for careers in areas as diverse as criminal justice, law, journalism, social services, urban planning, government, education, health, and business. Specialized courses prepare students who seek a professional career in sociology to pursue graduate studies. Students are encouraged to work closely with faculty in developing their academic program best suited to their career goals. Whatever their concentrations may be, all students of sociology should acquire an appreciation of the manifestations of the human spirit and its milieu.

Mission Statement

It is the mission of the Department to graduate students educated in the discipline of sociology, and to contribute to the liberal arts mission of the College of the Pacific. In sociology, students will develop a sociological imagination that places individual life experiences in the context of the social and cultural structures that shape them. The department of sociology emphasizes the role of social inequalities in shaping social interactions and institutions, leading to both constraints and opportunities for individuals and groups. The program provides students with the fundamental knowledge of basic sociological concepts, research methods and theoretical perspectives and fosters development of their analytic skills. Additionally, it emphasizes intellectually rigorous experiential and service learning, providing students with a solid foundation to be engaged, well-informed citizens who can address social justice issues and systematic inequalities in a complex and diverse society. (developed and adopted by department, Fall 2009)

Career Opportunities

Undergraduate study in sociology leads to employment in a very wide variety of careers. Many take positions in the social services or social work, education, governmental administration and planning, the criminal justice system or public health. Others have gone into the business world or international affairs. Study in sociology provides an excellent base for further study in law, business administration, government, public health, urban planning and similar fields.

Typical First-Year Program

Students who major in Sociology should use their freshman year to build a strong liberal arts background. The major program is developed so that it can be completed within a minimum period of two years. Students who want to explore interests in a sociology major may want to take any of several sociology courses that are in the general education program.


  1. Critical, Conceptual and Analytical Thinking: Students should be able to analyze and understand contemporary and historical social events and policies, both micro and macro, by using key concepts from Foundations of Sociology; Social Psychology; Social Inequality; and Social Theory.
  2. Inquiry and Evidence: Students should be able to define, design and implement significant and ethically appropriate research projects in sociology. They should also be able to critically evaluate the published research of others.
  3. Communication Competence: Students should be able to make clear and effective presentations of their work in writing and orally, in public presentations.
  4. Experiential and Service Learning: Students should be able to effectively interact in off-campus social settings and be able to meet the responsibilities and expectations inherent in these settings. Students should be able to sociologically describe and analyze these social settings and their own experiences within them. Students should also be able to engage with sociological knowledge to develop and execute independent research projects.
  5. Informed Citizenship, Social Inequality and Justice: Students should be aware of, and understand the social and cultural issues raised by the facts of diversity and inequality in society, including significant variations by race, class, gender, age and sexuality, and be engaged as citizens in addressing these issues in a sociologically informed manner.

Bachelor of Arts Major in Sociology

Students must complete a minimum of 124 units with a Pacific cumulative and major/program grade point average of 2.0 in order to earn the bachelor of arts degree with a major in sociology,.

I. General Education Requirements

Minimum 42 units and 12 courses that include:

PACS 001What is a Good Society4
PACS 002Topical Seminar on a Good Society4
PACS 003What is an Ethical Life?3

Note: 1) Pacific Seminars cannot be taken for Pass/No Credit. 2) Transfer students with 28 or more transfer units complete 2 additional General Education elective courses from below in place of taking PACS 001 and PACS 002.

One course from each subdivision below:

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Arts and Humanities
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
or a second IIIA Natural Sciences course

Note: 1) No more than 2 courses from a single discipline may be applied to meet the requirements of the general education program.

II. Diversity Requirement

Students must complete one diversity course (3-4 units)

Note: 1) Transfer students with 28 units or more transfer units prior to fall 2011 are encouraged but not required to complete a designated course prior to graduation. 2) Courses may be used also to meet general education and/or major/minor requirements.

III. College of the Pacific BA Requirement

Students must complete one year of college instruction or equivalent training in a language other than English.

Note: 1) Transfer students with sophomore standing are exempt from this requirement.

IV. Fundamental Skills

Students must demonstrate competence in:

Quantitative analysis

V. Breadth Requirement

Students must complete 64 units outside the primary discipline of the first major, regardless of the department who offers the course(s) in that discipline. (Courses include general education courses, transfer courses, CPCE/EXTN units, internships, etc.)

VI. Major Requirements

Minimum 42 units and 10 courses that include:

SOCI 051Introduction to Sociology4
SOCI 071Foundations of Sociology *2
SOCI 079Social Psychology *4
SOCI 171Social Research Methods4
SOCI 172Social Inequality4
SOCI 177Theories of Society and Culture4
SOCI 179Capstone Seminar *2
Select one of the following statistic courses:4
Political Science Research
Elementary Statistical Inference
Introduction to Statistics and Probability
Three SOCI Electives (Three additional courses, two of which are numbered 100 or above excluding SOCI 051, SOCI 187A, SOCI 187B, SOCI 197A, and SOCI 197B) **12
Select one of the following electives:4
Culture and Economy
Culture and Power
Media and Society
Documentary Film as Persuasive Communication
Intercultural Communication
English 25
Environment and Literature
Contemporary Critical Issues
Introduction to Ethnic Studies
Introduction to Gender Studies
Sport, Culture and U.S. Society
Sport and Globalization
Women in United States History
United States Since 1945
Contemporary World Issues
Introduction to Law and Policy in the American Political System
U.S. Government and Politics
Government in Action: Public Policy Analysis
Introduction to Public Administration
Social Ethics
Religion, Race, Justice in US
Select one of the following experiential learning courses:4
Co-op Internship
Co-op Internship
JCTR 187 Community Affairs Internship
Independent Research
Independent Research

Minor in Sociology

It is designed to provide a general introduction to the field and a broad overview of social interaction and structure. Students are required to work closely with a minor advisor in constructing a coherent course of study.

Students must complete a minimum of 20 units and 5 courses with a Pacific minor grade point average of 2.0 in order to earn a minor in sociology.

Minor Requirements:

SOCI 051Introduction to Sociology4
SOCI 171Social Research Methods4
One SOCI Elective (numbered below -100 excluding SOCI 051)4
Two SOCI Electives (numbered 100 or above excluding SOCI 187A, SOCI 187B, SOCI 197A, and SOCI 197B)8

Note: 1) Electives are chosen in consultation with the advisor.

Sociology Courses

SOCI 021. Culture and Society. 4 Units.

Students examine the various forms of culture and their linkages to our society. The course looks at what culture is and what it means to people—how it links them together and drives them apart. Topics include how culture is “created,” and by whom; what restraints are placed upon cultural creation by individuals and society; how culture is manufactured and “sold” to large audiences; subcultures and the creation of cultural identity; the diffusion of culture both within societies and between them; the process of globalization and effects of American culture overseas. Special emphasis on the impacts of social stratification, class, gender and race. (DVSY, GE1B)

SOCI 031. Deviant Behavior. 4 Units.

This course critically examines various sociological approaches to the study of deviant behavior. Special attention is paid to the problem of defining deviance in a useful manner for sociological study—and not just as officially illegal behavior. Most forms of deviance, ranging from major infractions of societal norms (such as rape or child abuse) to less extreme, but still significant deviant acts (such as marijuana smoking or illegal file sharing) is discussed. In addition, the political and economic elite is examined with respect to their ability to define deviance, their use of punishment as social control, and the ways they are able to “hide” crime to their own advantage. American data is supplemented by cross-cultural and comparative materials. (DVSY, GE1A)

SOCI 041. Social Problems. 4 Units.

This course is an exploration of the process by which various social conditions become labeled as social problems worthy of policy responses. It examines the various roles played by the media, government actors, activists and everyday citizens in this process, and pays particular attention to the role of power in enabling some social groups to label the behaviors of others an problematic while deflecting attention from their own practices. This course focuses predominantly on the US, but also engages in comparative analysis with other countries. (DVSY, ETHC, GE1B, GEND)

SOCI 051. Introduction to Sociology. 4 Units.

This course is an introduction to the field of sociology with an emphasis upon study of the basic concepts of sociological analysis, their use in the understanding of major institutions and the trends and problems associated with the urban, industrial and political developments in contemporary society. (DVSY, GE1B)

SOCI 061. Urban Society. 4 Units.

What effects has the historical emergence of cities had on human social interaction and public life? How do urban places structure social relations and create identities and cultural meanings? This course explores the development of the city and its effects on social life. Particular attention is given to issues of poverty, interracial interaction and segregation, suburbanization, gentrification, urban development and urban cultural movements. Though this course takes US metropolitan areas as its primary focus, it also draws on global examples. (ETHC)

SOCI 071. Foundations of Sociology. 2 Units.

This course is designed to introduce sociology majors to the field of sociology and the sociology program. You will meet weekly in a seminar-like setting to discuss reading material; explore the sociological curriculum; and learn about faculty, resources and opportunities at the university. By the end of the course, students are expected to understand how to make the most of their college experience and their sociological training.

SOCI 079. Social Psychology. 3 or 4 Units.

Who are we? How did we come to be the way we are? How does the way we understand ourselves relate to our understandings of society? This course addresses these questions through the field of sociological social psychology. Sociological social psychology investigates how our understandings of our individual selves and the wider social world are shaped through social interaction. Topics include the nature and scope of social psychology, the structure of social interaction, the development and maintenance of the social self, and the production and influence of culture. The course also explores the ways that hierarchies of race, class, gender and nation shape social identity. Prerequisite, may be taken concurrenlty: SOCI 051 or permission of instructor. (GEND)

SOCI 081. Introduction to Social Services. 4 Units.

This course introduces students to social welfare by using various political perspectives and provides an overview of social services. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of social work as a profession and better understand how social policies are applied to attempt to deal with various social problems. The course also examines the types of social services provided, the client population targeted, the organization of agencies, funding mechanisms, and program design and evaluation. This course combines classroom work with minimal fieldwork with non-profit agencies.

SOCI 108. Food, Culture and Society. 4 Units.

Are you what you eat, or do you eat what you are? This course focuses on the role of food in society, with an emphasis on understanding food in its social and cultural contexts. Topics include food and nutrition; problems of over- and under-eating; food fads; food sacrifices and taboos; food and social and ethnic identity; and the global politics of food. Although beginning with a look at American food ways, the course is highly cross-cultural and comparative in nature. (DVSY, ENST, ETHC, GE1C)

SOCI 111. Environment and Society. 4 Units.

Students examine the relationship between society and the natural world. It comparatively analyzes theories concerning how humans relate to the natural world as well as the causes of environmental degradation. It attends to the various roles of the biological and social sciences in understanding environmental issues, as well as the relationship between environment and inequality. The course analyzes how various social systems, institutions and behaviors contribute to environmental degradation, and highlights and compares political solutions. (DVSY, ENST, ETHC, GE3C)

SOCI 114. Social and Cultural Change. 4 Units.

Why do some social movements fail to produce social change, while others succeed? The goal of this course is to introduce students to sociological theories of social movements, analyzing the reasons they emerge at particular historical moments, and the types of political and cultural changes they can produce. Through a review of case studies that include the women’s, gay rights, abortion, civil rights, environmental, and peace movements, the course identifies key analytical questions and research strategies for studying contemporary social movements in depth. This course focuses largely on US examples, though cross-cultural comparisons add depth to the discussions. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor.

SOCI 123. Sex and Gender. 4 Units.

The course material explores how various social institutions in contemporary society shape our understanding of gender, sex and sexuality. Although grounded in sociological analysis, the class is interdisciplinary and intersectional in nature as many of the course texts are drawn from a range of social science disciplines. The lectures, assigned reading, and activities address how sex and gender are intricately linked to other social statuses such as race, class and age. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor. (DVSY, ETHC, GEND)

SOCI 125. Sociology of Health and Illness. 4 Units.

This course introduces students to the sociology of medicine and the delivery of health care, with an emphasis on the interaction of patients, health care professionals, and social institutions. Topics of examination include health care settings, provider-patient relationships, ethical issues in health care, and trends in medicine and policies. Additionally, the course explores how race, class, and gender affect people’s health and illness in addition to how health policies shape the medical system, and how definitions, attitudes, and beliefs affect health and illness. (DVSY, ETHC, GE1B, GEND)

SOCI 127. Family and Marriage. 4 Units.

This course explores the social dynamics of human intimacy within families. Family life is examined through a historical, cultural and political lens to place the social institution in a broad societal context. The evolution of the family is studied both historically and comparatively. Special attention is given to the sociological significant of sexuality, changing roles of men and women, intimacy, marriage and divorce, domestic violence, parenthood, childhood and aging, and alternative ways of living together. The course texts examine family life across race and ethnic groups, social class, religion and geographic location. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor. (ETHC, GEND)

SOCI 133. Criminology. 4 Units.

Students analyze the nature and distribution of crime, theories of crime causation and prevention as well as an examination of the operation of police and judicial agencies. (ETHC, GE1A, PLAW)

SOCI 139. Corrections. 4 Units.

Students examine the history and theories of and current practices in institutional and non-institutional programs addressed to the correctional treatment of juvenile and adult offenders. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor. (PLAW)

SOCI 141. Prejudice and Racism. 4 Units.

Historical and contemporary forms of prejudice and racism are the focus of this course. Social institutions such as the media, education, family and government are examined for their role in fostering – as well as challenging - prejudice and racism. Racism, defined by sociologists as structural and institutionalized forms of discrimination, with an emphasis on prejudice against African Americans, is central to the course. Some of the texts deals with the intersection of anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and classism, that allows students to consider how multiple forms of discrimination are intertwined. Although centered in Sociology, the course readings and films are interdisciplinary in nature. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor. (DVSY, ETHC)

SOCI 165. Social Organizations. 4 Units.

Students explore the social structure of communities and the influence of organizations and social institutions on individuals and groups. The course focuses primarily on the dynamics of community level organizations, and it analyzes social service, nonprofit, voluntary, public, and similar kinds of civic sector organizations and agencies, and the social issues to which they respond. Students also examine basic principles of organization that include program development, team building, leadership and related topics as strategies for responding to human needs to solve social problems and achieve social change. Prerequisite: a course in sociology or permission of instructor.

SOCI 171. Social Research Methods. 4 Units.

How do we study society? This course reviews and examines the various methods most used in social science research to design research projects and gather and analyze data. Students study the ethical issues involved in the use of such methods. Consideration of the interrelationships between the development of social theory and methodologies of data collection include experiments, observation, interviews, surveys and content analysis. Student designed research projects are a central part of this course. Prerequisite: SOCI 051 or permission of instructor. (PLAW)

SOCI 172. Social Inequality. 4 Units.

Are some more equal than others? This course examines the historical causes, current structure, and consequences of social inequality. The emphasis is on contemporary social, economic and political issues in the United States. This course focuses on various group experiences of inequality due to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, nativity, etc. Various sociological perspectives and empirical research are applied to gain a better understanding on how social inequality is created, manifested, and maintained. Students investigate the effects of social inequality on society, and possible frameworks to reduce the level of social inequality. Prerequisite: SOCI 051 or permission of instructor. Recommended: SOCI 171. (DVSY, ETHC, GEND)

SOCI 177. Theories of Society and Culture. 4 Units.

How does theory help us to understand society? This course provides a broad overview of sociological theory at both the macro- and micro levels. The course texts explore classic and contemporary sociological theories. Students who complete this course will learn how scholars define and use theory in the development of sociological knowledge. Throughout the semester students examine basic theoretical assumptions and learn how different perspectives compare and contrast with each other. Recommended: SOCI 051 and SOCI 172.

SOCI 179. Capstone Seminar. 2 Units.

The purpose of the capstone seminar is to give sociology students the opportunity to revisit their sociological training and to begin preparing for the sociological career. We will meet once a week to discuss the value of the sociology degree, the careers available to sociologists, and how sociology might “fit” into life after college. Throughout the course, students will develop a professional portfolio to showcase their sociological skillset. They will also present on a sociological concept in order to demonstrate their ability to apply and communicate sociological knowledge outside an academic setting.

SOCI 187A. Fieldwork. 2 or 4 Units.

This course provides an intellectually rigorous experiential learning opportunity to majors. It is an advanced course designed for students who wish to further explore sociological concepts through direct experience, observation, reflection and analysis. Students choose a field site, generally an internship, regular voluntary activity or work place, where they spend approximately 8-10 hours per week. Class meetings help students to develop their ethnographic research and writing skills. This course results in the production of a publishable or presentation quality piece of original ethnographic research that draws upon thick description and analysis of the research site to extend and/or challenge sociological theory. (Note: The course may be repeated for credit, but applies toward major requirements only once. SOCI 187 is a letter-graded course.) Prerequisites: SOCI 051 and SOCI 171. 2.0 GPA in major or permission of instructor is required.

SOCI 191. Independent Study. 2-4 Units.

SOCI 197. Independent Research. 2-4 Units.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify and correctly use important sociological concepts and methods to analyze social events, policies and behavior.
2. Evaluate strengths and limitations of the most significant theoretical approaches used in sociology.
3. Propose interesting and important topics for sociological study.
4. Design and execute a viable research project to investigate a research question, either deductively or inductively.
5. Apply analytical and statistical methods to reach conclusions about research questions and/or deductive hypotheses.
6. Identify, analyze and evaluate political and ethical issues related to their own work, and the work of others.
7. Write in clear, disciplinary appropriate style.
8. Present oral arguments and research results in clear and effective ways in public settings.
9. Demonstrate professional behavior in terms of demeanor, personal presentation, and ethics in experiential and service learning settings.
10. Effectively utilize sociological concepts in analyzing and evaluating their experiences in these settings.
11. Design and execute a viable research project according to disciplinary norms.
12. Identify and use salient sociological concepts and methods to analyze and understand public knowledge, misunderstanding and policy relating to social diversity, inequality and justice.

Sociology Faculty

Marcia Hernandez, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College, 2005, BA, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1994; PhD, State University of New York, Albany, 2007.

Ethel G. Nicdao, Associate Professor and Chair, 2007, BA, University of California, Davis, 1994; MA, California State University-East Bay, 2001; PhD, University of New Mexico, 2006.

Alison H. Alkon, Associate Professor, 2008, BA, Emory University, 1999; MA, U.C. Davis, 2003; PhD, University of California, Davis, 2008.

Susan Mannon, Associate Professor, 2013, BA University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 1996; M.S. (Sociology), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998; Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003