Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and human social activity. It explains and ties together the many dimensions of human life, perhaps most significantly the groups that we build, and encompasses many different perspectives of study.
In the sociology major at Luther, students are exposed to the various orientations within the discipline. While sociology is generally considered the scientific study of group behavior, there are many different kinds of groups and many different research approaches. For example, some sociologists use surveys as a means of understanding group behavior while others work with participant observation as a research tool. At Luther there are specialists in each of these approaches.
Some sociologists feel that sociology should be directed toward the discovery of new knowledge. Others feel sociology should be concerned with developing approaches which will lead directly to alleviating social problems. Again, the sociology department reflects both of these points of view.
Luther students have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in many professions through the internship programs available. Many of these on-the-job learning experiences take place during January term. The department also provides students with the opportunity to engage in survey research activities either independently or under a department member's supervision.
A core group of courses is required for all sociology majors. These required courses include Introduction to Sociology, Research Methodology, and Social Statistics. Sociology students then select five additional courses within the major and two social science courses outside it.
If you're interested in a career in law enforcement or criminology, you should choose to study sociology at Luther. Sociology provides the skills necessary to understand and study human behavior, including what we call "deviant" behavior and the criminalization of that behavior.
With a sociology major, you'll learn about theory and methods to understand and study said behavior. You'll receive a liberal arts degree that helps you think critically about policing rather than just police procedure—which will make you a better police officer or agent. Some of our graduates work in the field of Homeland Security and about one-fourth of students who study sociology pursue criminology.
Students contemplating graduate study should participate in research opportunities with faculty members and acquire knowledge in the use of computers. Faculty members are also available to assist students with the selection of specific graduate schools and programs.
For me, the sociology department at Luther was Plato. They pulled me out of the cave and put theories and explanations behind my everyday experiences. Luther has a dedicated staff and fascinating classes that opened my eyes to the complexities of social interaction, changing my perception of the world and its people.
— Anne Turco '16