Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences

Social Sciences

Overview of Departmental Programs

Convinced that it has a special responsibility to prepare students for the ever-changing demands of contemporary society, the department provides disciplinary and methodological instruction and practice in the social sciences. To this end, courses are offered in anthropology, economics, geography, political science, sociology and interdisciplinary social science. The department awards the B.A. degree in four programs: anthropology and sociology; economics; political science; and interdisciplinary social sciences.

The department also offers the B.S. degree in anthropology/sociology, political science and interdisciplinary social sciences, as an academic major for students seeking an elementary education teaching certificate. The B.S. degree in interdisciplinary social sciences also meets all state requirements for an academic major for students seeking the secondary education teaching certificate entitled “History and Social Studies.” The B.S. degree programs require additional courses in professional education and formal admission by the education department.

Our curriculum is supported by department computer and archaeology laboratories. The department’s role in the university-affiliated Jane Goodall Institute generates opportunities for students to become academically involved in the institute’s mission of environmental, conservation and primate studies. Additionally, the department has cooperative departmental cross-listing of some courses and exchange of faculty instruction with several university departments such as communication, environmental sciences, finance, history and non-western cultures, management (public administration) and social work.  The department also sponsors and publishes annually the Social Sciences Journal that contains original research written by students within the majors.  Students are invited to contribute their essays or research papers for review. Two student editors and one faculty advisor choose and edit the best examples of student work for publication.

The four social science degree programs at Western provide students with a holistic understanding and critical appreciation of the cultural, political, social and economic elements of society. The department curriculum presents a broad-based foundation in the social sciences while offering a rich and diverse range of degree programs and options.

The allied fields of anthropology and sociology offer ways of understanding the world that are fundamental to many courses of study. Anthropology and sociology look at everyday life in the context of groups, societies and cultures to which humankind contribute. The degree program is designed to provide background for varied business, government and social service careers as well as for advanced graduate studies in a wide area of disciplines. There is also an anthropology/sociology and elementary education option for students desiring to become elementary school teachers.

The economics program provides students with an understanding and appreciation of the economic behavior of individuals, business and society. The focus is on social outcomes of economic transactions and events, as well as on economic performance. Economics is taught as part of a liberal arts education at Western and provides an especially relevant background for careers in business or government, as well as for graduate study in economics, law or business.

Students of political science are given an opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the political aspects of society. They are provided with a practical background for a variety of legal, government, public and social service careers, and a preparation for graduate studies in political science, as well as in related fields, such as pre-law. There is also a political science and elementary education option for students desiring to become elementary school teachers.

This interdisciplinary major provides students with both a broad-based foundation in the social sciences and with a variety of course choices, allowing a student to focus on a specific topic or theme, such as global studies or multi-cultural studies. This program is considered particularly relevant for future teachers. There are two options for joining the major in social sciences with the majors in elementary education or secondary education.

Departmental Objectives

  • Emphasizes on social research methodology and analytical skills.
  • Provide a personalized learning environment for students through faculty mentored undergraduate research opportunities and cooperative education research.
  • Prepares students for graduate education in the social sciences and allied fields.
  • Assist students in discerning appropriate careers through advising.
  • Foster the growth and development of faculty through research, attendance at professional meetings, developing and directing public forums and discipline-related training workshops, and publication and presentation of scholarly work.
  • A strong commitment to public service by collaborating with agencies and organizations, such as Jane Goodall Institute, Housatonic Valley Association, Connecticut State Archaeology Office and Institute for American Indian Studies, and with regional elementary, junior and senior high school educators to promote social sciences education.