Sociology offers new option for students

sociologyThis year, Wilfrid Laurier University’s department of sociology has developed a new applied social research option for students.

The option, which is composed of four credits split between required and elective courses, was designed as a means by which students could showcase the unique skills they acquired in the field of methodology.

“We’ve always taught methods courses, but we had a discussion on how can we deliver methods courses in more of a package,” said Lucy Luccisano, chair of the department of sociology.

“How can we put this on a transcript, and how can students really get credit for the skills that they learn in sociology.”

Though the option just opened to students in September 2015, the faculty is hopeful that by including courses already existent within the university, it won’t be long before they see students graduating with the option.

“I’m hoping our first group to graduate will be June,” said Luccisano.

“I know there’s going to be one student finished the option by the winter of this year.”

This flexibility is attributable to the broad range of departments included within the required and elective classes.

“So what we’ve done is, it’s based in sociology, but it’s not limited to sociology. So sociology students and non-sociology students are most welcome to take it,” said Luccisano.

“You don’t have to be a sociology major. You can be in political science, you can be in economics, you can be in business, you can be a geography major; there are lots of possibilities.”

Luccisano noted the overlap in content relating to methodology is found within a number of departments, something which facilitates their goal to have these diverse students work on the option together. Methodology can be applied to numerous departments and specialties within the faculty of arts. This is something Luccisano believes students will benefit from with this research option.

“What’s great about it is also the ability of students from different disciplines to be in these advanced classes together.

“So I’m really hoping, maybe in a few years, to have sociology students, political science students, economics students, etc., all in the same room, with similar but yet different kind of training, working together, sharing ideas.”

One hope for the department is that the option will be able to put a label on the skills and abilities gained while taking these courses previously, in a manner which will translate after graduation.

“This is to build on the critical knowledge that they gain from the faculty of arts. What we have in the faculty of arts is students engaged in critical thinking, critical writing, they’ve always done this critical engagement in methodology,” Luccisano explained.

The option’s focus on applied social research, already a core element to Laurier’s arts programs, will provide students with the means to differentiate themselves from other new graduates.

“We’re excited that students can get these skills, and they can not only use these skills for courses that they’re taking, but summer jobs, they can get employment as researchers, it’s also something you take into grad school,” said Luccisano.

“Arts students are indeed getting jobs, which we like in that it celebrates and acknowledges what we’re doing here, but having the methodology behind you is an even bigger strength.”

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