At Colby, sociology has 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 American sociology textbook and was the founding editor of the American Journal of Sociology. He 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.
Small saw great value in theoretically-informed sociological research. So do faculty members in the Colby Sociology Department today, who are all committed to the research enterprise. Students in the department learn about cutting-edge research on everything from poverty to policing, slave communities to political polarization, secularization to the social dynamics of scientific innovation.
For classes, independent study projects, and honors theses, students also learn to conduct their own research, gaining practical skills in interviewing, ethnographic observation, and quantitative data analysis and data visualization. Students have the opportunity to work on faculty projects as paid research assistants, and can forge working relationships with prominent sociologists at other institutions by attending talks in the department’s vibrant colloquium series.
But these are not the only skills sociology classes teach. In our small, participation-oriented seminars, students learn how to think, talk, and write sociologically about some of the biggest issues facing our country and the world today. As they do so, they learn that social life is complicated, that assertions about society hold little value unless they are theoretically justified and empirically grounded, and that while there are no easy answers, that doesn’t mean we should give up the quest for truth.
Recent sociology graduates of Colby have gone on to establish careers in such diverse fields as urban and community planning, law, medicine, public health, social work, education, business, and advertising. Some have become sociology professors themselves.
For more information about the Sociology Program at Colby, please contact Professor Neil Gross, Chair of the Department of Sociology.