Sociology Fall 2020: What to Expect.

The Department of Sociology has been diligent this summer in making sure we are prepared for the current semester. While we are disappointed that the challenges we face due to the COVID-19 pandemic have limited opportunities for traditional face-to-face instruction and mentoring, we are confident that we are still offering engaging, challenging and rewarding courses this fall. Fortunately, instructors in the department have years of experience developing and teaching online and hybrid courses. The department regularly offers many of our core and elective sociology courses online, and we have spent a great deal of time drawing on this experience to design a fall schedule that ensures a rich learning experience for our students. We have also made sure that we continue to offer a broad variety of courses that allow students to meet the requirements of the sociology major and sociology and criminology minors, while also still achieving the core learning objectives of the degree.

As is always the case, the specific pedagogical approaches to instruction will vary from course to course. However, all of our courses this fall will create an environment that provides opportunities for student-to-instructor and peer-to-peer interaction, individual attention, and student growth. Many of our online classes will be offered in a synchronous format and will closely resemble a traditional classroom setting. This will allow for students to engage in real-time discussions with their classmates, participate in group activities, and ask questions as they grasp the material being taught. Other courses will offer an asynchronous schedule where students will interact with their instructor and peers with more flexibility to accommodate their schedules. Our face-to-face courses will offer a more traditional classroom-setting experience, while at the same time strictly adhering to the social distancing and masking requirements outlined by the University’s health and safety guidelines.

As a department, we also recognize that much of the learning and mentoring that takes place at the University happens outside of the classroom. In situations that ensure they are not putting students at any health risk, faculty will still be offering opportunities for independent research and research mentorship. Additionally, our instructors and graduate teaching assistants will be available to talk with students during regularly scheduled virtual office hours and will be available for virtual and telephone appointments. Faculty will also continue to be available to advise students, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies will hold weekly office hours to answer student questions about department requirements and courses. We find ourselves starting this semester in a time of unprecedented political, economic, and social change. We in the Sociology Department are committed to helping our students use their sociological imagination to navigate and thrive in these unique times.