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Department of Sociology & Criminology

As an academic community whose roots expose social inequality and seek to offer a path toward social change, many recent events have allowed us to see several sociological truths.  The pandemic has brought cascading illustrations of one of our most understood principles—the entanglement of people and their private troubles, with society and its public issues.  The discriminatory brutality and violence experienced in recent years also illustrates the connection between a fabric of inequality throughout our institutions and the personal trauma and grief of those who experience that inequality, all the while seeing the blindness of others in their community to their suffering. 

The Department of Sociology & Criminology at WKU sees the prejudiced, discriminatory, and violent actions occurring throughout our country, and we desire that our students have a framework for understanding these and other social events from a sociological perspective. We want our students to have the critical thinking skills to ask questions about the world around them and the ability to solve problems creatively. Our goal is to develop our students’ sociological imagination so they can see the world with open minds and open hearts. We want our students to think methodologically so they are critical of and ask questions about information they see every day. Finally, we want our students to feel welcome, accepted, seen, heard, and respected. Our faculty and students strive to be life-long learners to achieve our goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Our note begins with an offering of solidarity and path for social change through current programming and the degrees we offer. The department of Sociology and Criminology also acknowledges that while our field of study utilizes scientific techniques to examine and illustrate the roots of systematic inequality in our society, we still have work to do as a department of individuals, as a unit in a system of higher education, as authorities over the curriculum we teach, and as a discipline. It is important to also admit that we need your help. As citizens of Kentucky, (perhaps) the US, and the world, public education needs your support. We encourage you to use your own power to make decisions which support unity, and opportunity for all.

Below, we provide an ongoing list of examples, illustrating how we are taking action. 

First, Chanell Ellis, Yuritzi Lopez-Angeles, Jesse Ricketts, & Ashlee Gilbert return to their work as student ambassadors for the department. In 2021-22, the are joined by Savannah Snider, Lauren Holman, Kayla Distler, Maria Julian, Maria Siewers, Lindsey Coates, Asiana Bell, and Sadie Sand.  This group works closely with faculty, directed by Dr. Amy Krull & Dr. Pavel Vasiliev, to develop and implement departmental programming related to career and social activities, represent the department at recruitment events, and spend time mentoring our first year students in small groups and one-on-one settings when necessary. One outcome of the work of this group was our Juvenile Justice panel event in spring of 2021 which included Ed Palmer, pastor and current chair of the Mational Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Kentucky Senator Whitney Westerfield, Rachel Bingham, Executive Office for the Department of Family and Juvenile Services in KY, and Judge Kimberly Shumate, Kentucky District Court judge.  This event would not have occurred without the leadership of our student ambassadors from whom the idea was generated and with whose help the zoom event was a tremendous success!

We are also in the process of recruiting participants for two Living Learning Programs for the upcoming academic year!  Up to 48 incoming students will be served by either our Criminology or Citizenship & Social Justice LLPs!  These students will live together in Normal Hall, take courses together, and be participate in programming facilitated by our two LLP Faculty Fellows Ms. Crystal Bohlander and Dr. Dawn Winters. These groups will deeply explore issues of justice and equality.

The Department of Sociology & Criminology is a student-centered department, offering programs and course work designed to expand awareness and understanding of the social causes and consequences of human behavior in groups, including diverse societies, cultures, and organizations.

Completion of our curriculum provides you with the following skills:

  • The capacity to explore, describe, explain, and evaluate the social world by utilizing the techniques of systematic observation.
  • Data Literacy skills necessary to understand and communicate societal characteristics found in numeric, and graphic forms.
  • Effective written and oral communication skills necessary to effectively frame and solve problems in a team setting. 
  • Empathetic listening skills necessary for developing successful social media and other marketing campaigns, consulting, and entrepreneurship endeavors.

Upon completion of our curriculum, past graduates have pursued careers in the following settings: 

  • Social Services--Case Management, Crisis Management, Life Skills.
  • Justice Services--Law Enforcement, Courts, & Corrections.
  • Nonprofit Organizations & Counseling Agencies serving Victims of Criminal Offenses, At-Risk Youth, and Fragile families.
  • Health Services--Substance Abuse Education, Rehabilitation Counseling, Family Planning.
  • Businesses--Community Development, Advocacy, Public & Social Media Relations.

Departmental Faculty, Advisors, Staff, and Peer Mentors facilitate growth through our programs and facilitate connection to life beyond the hill through our Career Connections Series, Academic Internships, Study Abroad Programs, the Alpha Kappa Delta honor society, and theCriminology and Sociology Club facilitated by our Student Ambassadors.  







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 Last Modified 7/2/21