Envisioning the good society

Virtually every field of human endeavor requires an understanding of society, culture, and behavior. As a sociology major at Elon, you will delve into the fascinating investigation of how human beings relate to one another. You will explore the myriad differences and striking similarities between people and societies and learn to appreciate cultural diversity.

With Elon’s distinctive balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience such as field research, internships and study abroad, you will build the critical thinking, research, interpersonal and communication skills that will deepen your understanding of the world and broaden your career opportunities. A sociology is an asset in a range of professions, including business, criminal justice, education, government, health care, social services and urban planning.

Sociology is a rapidly evolving discipline, driven by forces such as globalization and the growing emphasis on cultural diversity. Elon combines the disciplines of sociology and anthropology within one department to create a comprehensive, integrated approach to the study of various human societies and how those societies are interrelated.

A degree in sociology allowed me to pursue a career in any field. My communication skills have been enhanced, as well as my awareness and knowledge of the people and environments I encounter.

Katie Barley ’07

Award-winning faculty

The faculty in Elon’s sociology program bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and diverse interests to the classroom, and they care deeply about their students and the teaching and learning process. Classes are small, and the 15-1 student-to-faculty ratio means students receive plenty of individualized attention. Their doors are always open if you need advice or encouragement. The sociology faculty includes several award-winning teachers who have been recognized for their years of outstanding teaching at Elon.

Dr. Thomas Arcaro, Professor of Sociology, is a former recipient of the Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching, and twice was voted Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the student body. He and teaches sociological theory, global citizenship, and introductory sociology courses. Arcaro is currently researching humanitarian aid workers.

Professor Bernard Curry holds a joint appointment in the sociology program and the education program. He teaches criminology, sociology of religion and introductory sociology courses, and offers teaching practicum supervision for up-and-coming social studies teachers in the education program.

Dr. Alexis Franzese, Associate Professor of Sociology, teaches our introduction to sociology course and more advanced courses in the area of social deviance, social psychology, and medical sociology.  She also offers an interdisciplinary GST course on the science of happiness.

Dr. Mussa Idris, Associate Professor of Anthropology, teaches courses in anthropology, sociology and African studies. He is currently doing ethnographic research with newly resettled refugees from Sub-Saharan African countries in Greensboro, North Carolina with a focus on resettlement experiences and micro-enterprise initiatives and was the recipient of the Steven and Patricia House Excellence in Mentoring Award for 2022.

Dr. Raj Ghoshal, Assistant Professor of Sociology, teaches courses on race and ethnic relations, social movements, criminology, quantitative research methods, and Australia’s “Stolen Generation.” His research has appeared in numerous academic journals and been featured on NPR’s “Hidden Brain” podcast.

Dr. Angela Lewellyn is Associate Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences and teaches courses in criminology and deviance, violence in families, social problems and sociology of gender.

Professor Laurin Kier, part-time Assistant Professor of Sociology, teaches introductory sociology courses.

Dr. Robert T. Perdue, Assistant Professor of Sociology, is an environmental sociologist who examines the social, economic and ecological impacts of natural resource extraction. His current work focuses on prison construction as an economic development strategy following resource decline. He teaches Environmental Sociology and Introduction to Sociology among other courses.

Dr. Rena Cornell Zito, Assistant Professor of Sociology, has research focuses on the social roots of adolescent behavior, with a particular emphasis on family influences on youth law violation and other outcomes. She teaches courses in criminology, family sociology, and quantitative research methods.

Dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities

Elon is a national leader in experiential education, and sociology majors have some of the most extensive opportunities for field research, international study and internships. During winter term, the sociology program offers opportunities to travel and learn about indigenous Australia, Peru, Guatemala, Ghana and other destinations. The program also helps sociology students secure internships in a range of settings, including the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Physicians for Human Rights photo exhibit and Alamance Dispute Settlement Center. These internships offer invaluable opportunities to put classroom knowledge into action and gain the real-world experience so highly valued by employers.

In addition, the sociology program offers several courses that contain service-learning components. In these courses, students go into the local community to serve with a nonprofit organization and build connections the practical experience and the substantive content of the course. Sociology students also get involved in Elon’s Project Pericles program, PERCS: the Program for Ethnographic Research and Community Studies and Social Entrepreneurship Scholars program.

Through research, courses and amazing professors, the sociology department has prepared me for life. I now have a better understanding of how the world works, how people interact with each other and how to always use a sociological imagination to understand and make sense of our developing world.

Darris Means ’05

Cutting-edge research in premier facilities

In the summer of 2009, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology moved to its new home in Lindner Hall. In Lindner, students have access to a computer lab equipped with quantitative and qualitative software tools for data analysis and a physical anthropology/archaeology lab. For students involved in PERCS, the department provides access to video and audio recording equipment, as well as online teaching modules on interviewing, observation and ethics.

Special opportunities

Sociology majors showcase their research at Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), as well as regional and national conferences. Anthropology students also may be eligible for Elon’s challenging Fellows programs, including Honors Fellows and Elon College Fellows in the College of Arts and Sciences. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Web site for more information.

Sociology students are also eligible to become members of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society, and Pi Gamma Mu, the international social science honor society.

Preparation for a career

A sociology major provides a well-rounded liberal arts and sciences education, which prepares one to participate fully as a conscientious global citizen. In addition, sociology enables one to engage in critical thought about social justice and injustice throughout the world. A sociology degree from Elon prepares students to pursue graduate education in sociology, criminology, law, education and business, and also prepares one to pursue a career in a variety of fields, including:

  • Human resources
  • Counseling
  • Social research
  • Management
  • Demography
  • Criminal justice and law
  • Teaching
  • Social work
  • Communications.