Trees frame the entrance to the Madsen Center

Madsen Social Science Center 

Why is there so much poverty in the United States? What makes for a stable family? Can you really be an “individual?” Why are U.S. prisons overcrowded? How do people experience aging in America? Why do women continue to earn less income than men for the same kinds of work?

What is Sociology?

Many of the questions that tantalize us are questions about people in groups. Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologist C. Wright Mills spoke of sociology as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between our private experience and the wider society.” This “awareness,” which is the result of sociological thinking and research, provides a unique perspective on the world — a perspective that emphasizes the connections between personal experience and the broader social system. [Citation from Mills, C. W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination.  London: Oxford University Press]

Studying Sociology As Preparation for Excelling In Today's World

A sociology major prepares you to understand — as well as engage in — the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse social world in which we live. In doing so, it provides an important foundation to any career that involves working with people or in social settings. In today's complex world it is vital for students to identify, understand, and critically explore the influence of the social system on individual behavior. Sociology at Augustana teaches this kind of "systems thinking" through a broad range of courses that explore the connections between family, government, religion, medicine, law, mass media, business organizations, gender, race, age and economic structures and our individual lives.  A sociology major or minor from Augustana will equip you for graduate education or a diverse range of career fields that include community development, human services, business, law, government, judicial and law enforcement services, medicine, health care administration, education, or the ministry. Any career that involves working with people will benefit from taking courses in sociology.

Hear firsthand about sociological preparation and current career success from our recent graduates!

Course Work

Your course of study in the sociology major will be divided between required courses and electives. Our required courses are designed to cover the foundational material in sociology: an understanding of contemporary society, social theory, stratification of peoples and groups, and the techniques of social science research. Elective courses allow you to focus on key areas of specialization within the discipline and thus tailor your program of study to individual interests and/or career goals.

Optional Emphasis Areas For A Sociology Major or Minor

Criminology and Deviance

Medicine and Health

Family and Community Service

Learn more about our emphasis areas here. All sociology courses are designed to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, research, writing, communication, and interpersonal skills. Often our elective courses enroll 15 students (or fewer), allowing for high levels of faculty-student contact and collaboration. Finally, students are encouraged to participate in a sociology internship, study abroad, or independent or faculty-led research during their course of study as an important step in career preparation.

News and Recent Events

New Faculty Member joining the DEpartment in Fall of 2019

We are excited to annouce that Kelcie Vercel will join the department as Assistant Professor of Sociology beginning in fall of this year after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame.

Kelcie Vercel Augustana Fall 2019  Kelcie Vercel is a sociologist specializing in family, culture, and consumption. She is particularly interested in the ways meanings of family, work, and the home impact intimate relationships, economic decisions,and communities. Her dissertation investigates how home stages, homebuilders, and realtors translate their ideas about the home into housing interactions and into the material qualities of houses. Her research reveals how their decisions shape the landscape of housing in the U.S. and conrtibute to symbolic exclusion. Her other research has investigated definitions of fatherhood among low-income fathers, and meanings of work and leisure among lifestyle bloggers.

Meet the Professionals: Careers in Nonprofit OrganizationS (October 29, 2018)

Susan N. Leppke, MPH, is the Director of Health and Public Policy at the National Marrow Donor Program®/Be The Match® where she leads, develops, and drives health policy strategies focused on improving access to cellular therapies for patients with blood cancers and other blood diseases and disorders. Susan leads both the Health Policy and Government Affairs teams to drive change in legislative, regulatory, and payer reimbursement settings.  She has over 12 years of experience in health care reimbursement, access to care analysis, and stakeholder engagement.  Susan knows that effective strategies focus on collaboration with a multitude of stakeholders including community partners, policymakers and patients.  By actively serving on a number of boards and projects, Susan has been able to lead and drive results that have improved the lives of those in her community.  She is a board member for the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health Alumni Society, the 1006 Summit Avenue Society (the Governor’s Residence Society), Living Well Disability Services, and has served on a number of other boards since 2005. Susan holds a BA in Physiology and a MPH in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota.

Sarah Florman, MPA, is the Trafficking Policy Coordinator at Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Sarah has spent her career working with youth in crisis. Currently, she works with five protocol teams in Minnesota to develop their local systems response to sexually exploited and/or trafficked youth.  She also provides support and technical assistance to individuals and agencies focusing on trafficking and exploitation throughout the state. Sarah holds a BA in Sociology and a MPA (Humphrey School of Public Affairs) from the University of Minnesota