Sociology department expands, unveils new graduate courses
The sociology department is ahead of schedule in its faculty recruitment plan, with six tenured and tenured-track faculty members and three postdoctoral fellows hired within the first two years of the department’s reestablishment.
According to professor Steven Fazzari, chair of the Department of Sociology, the department has made significant strides in recruiting faculty members. The initial plan was to hire two faculty members each year for a five-year period following the department’s 2015 establishment.
“We are very busy with faculty recruiting for the fall of 2017, and we hope to have good news soon about some new additions to the faculty for next year,” Fazzari said.
Approximately 25 students have declared majors and minors in the department. Despite a relatively small turnout at the major/minor welcome session last week, Fazzari is confident that students will continue to be attracted to the major by the variety of courses offered.
“This is a good start, but I expect the program to grow substantially. Because we just started the major in fall of 2016, we have mostly sophomores declared at this time. We will have a better sense of student interest in another year or two. Based on high enrollment in our introductory classes, I expect we will have a lot more declared majors and minors soon,” Fazzari said.
Many sociology courses offered in the 2016-2017 experienced high student enrollment. All four introductory classes had waiting lists, and higher caps are being planned for introductory courses offered this fall. Sociology professors have received outstanding course evaluations, according to Fazzari, and the department is exploring additional recruiting tools to attract undergraduates.
“We hope to find more ways to turn high interest in courses into declared majors. I expect some of this to happen naturally, as first and second year students move to more advanced courses. We are also working on identifying internship programs that show students how the study of sociology can be relevant to activities beyond [Washington] University, including interesting career paths,” Fazzari said.
Angelica Karim, a sophomore pursuing a second major in sociology, believes that the department could be doing more to attract pre-med students. The major is inherently interdisciplinary, and many students may opt to take a social science course in other areas, such as anthropology or psychology, without realizing the insight that a sociology education can provide.
“Since [the University] is geared toward people who are interested in medicine, I think it would be a good idea if they geared more courses toward that area. It’s a topic that’s relevant to any career involving lots of face-to-face interaction,” Karim said.
The department recently unveiled two graduate courses, “Stratification” and “Applications of Sociology-Immigration,” taught by associate professor Jake Rosenfeld and assistant professor Ariela Schachter, respectively. These courses are meant to attract graduate students from other disciplines, especially those studying social sciences. Following the recruitment of new faculty members for the 2017-2018 school year, the department will begin to discuss the timeline of introducing a Ph.D. program in sociology.
“I hope that we will be admitting our graduate students some time within the next couple of years, but we want to make sure that we have the teaching resources to fully cover a rich curriculum for both undergraduates and grad students before we start the Ph.D. program,” Fazzari said.