At Colby sociology is a discipline with a special history. It was here that one of the first sociology courses in the country was taught in 1890 by Albion Woodbury Small
. Small co-authored the first sociology textbook in the United States and was the founding editor of the American Journal of Sociology. He taught at Colby for many years, became the president of the College, and went on to chair the first department of sociology in the United States at the University of Chicago. Colby’s library contains a number of Small’s original research notes and papers. They form the cornerstone of a collection of sociological resources that attracts not only on-campus researchers, but scholars from other colleges and universities. The program in sociology addresses concerns similar to those that motivated Small and others to establish the discipline and that continue to occupy the minds of leaders in the field. Courses in the department foster appreciation of such areas of sociological inquiry as social inequality, social change, social psychology, social control, deviance, conflict, intergroup and ethnic relations, social problems, public policy, family, and the formation of identity. Beginning with the introductory course, students do sociology, as well as study how sociologists analyze society. Sociology courses routinely involve students in a variety of research endeavors. Because of this heavy emphasis on research and projects, and because we believe that it is by classroom discussion that students are best able to learn, the classes are small. Students of sociology can be assured of being in classes in which student participation is both expected and encouraged.
In addition to an active involvement in sociological research and classroom participation, students are encouraged to do internships and fieldwork through which they apply their knowledge to real-life settings. In the past this has included working in day care centers, law offices, hospitals, natural history and folk museums, with the Boys/Girls Club, Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, and archaeological excavations. January Programs sponsored by the department are always varied both in content and locale.
Recent sociology graduates of Colby have gone on to establish careers in such diverse fields as urban and community planning, law, medicine, social work, secondary education, business, advertising, and the ministry; they also conduct research for community agencies, the census bureau, businesses, educational institutions, foundations, and state and local governments. Our majors have been accepted to graduate programs of sociology at schools such as the University of Wisconsin, Brown, Brandeis, the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Rutgers University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Northwestern University, Northwestern School of Law, and Boston University School of Law, Northesastern School of Social Work, and Boston College School of Social Work.