Changes mean sociology department is headed ‘in the right direction’

by Cory KeaseyStaff Writer

Changes that were recently approved for the Department of Social Sciences mean the department will undergo a major facelift.

Beginning in Fall 2009, the department will be known as Sociology and Criminal Justice. Several concentrations and majors will also undergo changes.

While some students and faculty have been hesitant to embrace the changes, others feel positive about what the future of this department holds.

The changes have drawn mixed reactions from faculty and students alike.

Mark Freyburg, associate professor of sociology and chair of the sociology department thinks that more can be done to improve the program, but these changes are a start.

“While I don’t necessarily agree with the program, I do feel this is heading the department into the right direction,” Freyberg said.

The department chose to change its name it better represent the courses and majors offered.

According to a proposal presented to the EPCC, prospective students often search for majors titled criminal justice. Incorporating it into the title of the department will make the major easier to find.

In addition to changing the name, the number of required credit hours for both a criminal justice major and sociology major was lessened from 42 credit hours to 30. The number of credits required for a minor dropped from 21 to 15.

Many courses that were previously required for both majors will now be offered as electives. This gives students more control over the number of classes they chose to take within the major.

Only one class, Introduction to Human Service Systems, will be completely removed from the catalog. Concepts from the dropped class will be incorporated into other courses.

Several concentrations within the majors were also cut from the program. Sociology majors can currently graduate with a concentration in one of five areas. However, three of those, family concentration, minorities concentration and deviance concentration, are all being eliminated. According to the EPCC proposal, the minorities concentration will be replaced by a social justice concentration. The other two being cut are similar very similar to concentrations offered with a criminal justice major and are better focused under that major.

The class structure within the department will also look different next year. For example, the field experiences for all of the majors offered will be combined under one course title, rather than offering three individual courses. Several courses changed from CJ or Soc to SCJ courses. These changes were made to streamline the numbering system within the department.

Students have had mixed reactions about the changes brought forth by the Sociology department.

“I think that if this is what the department thinks will make the program more successful, then I am on their side for any changes they are willing to make,” sophomore Brandon Hommer, a criminal justice major, said.

Other students were not as happy about the alterations to the progam.

“My opinion is that they are downsizing the department, and it’s not fair,” junior Karen Hart, a criminal justice and sociology major said. “Because the economy is bad, it’s even more important to give students options and the best education possible. The things that are happening here are the opposite of what a liberal arts college is all about.”