Geography and Sociology
From the Greek word meaning “earth writing,” geography is the study of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment. With roots in the ancient world, geography is an integrative discipline that straddles the science-social science-humanities divide and is centrally concerned with the nature and significance of the places, patterns, and landscapes that make up the earth’s surface.
Most people who are ultimately attracted to the discipline of geography are motivated by much larger aspirations than good salaries. The opportunity to make a difference in the world, in whatever expression that takes, is one of the most frequently cited reasons why current geography students, researchers, and practitioners explain their career choice.
At least three recent global trends can be identified as contributing to a renaissance of geography and its potential for making a difference in society and the world:
- Globalization at an increasing pace and scale, phenomena that compel greater understanding of the world, places, people, and natural systems that affect us as a planet and as global citizens.
- Expansion of geographic technologies, once fairly obscure and now pervasive in our daily lives, such as GPS in cell phones and cars, online mapping at your fingertips, cable news reports using spatial visualizations, and many more applications in modern business and government services.
- An academic trend toward greater interdisciplinarity, especially a renewed focus on big questions that matter but that require a breadth of knowledge and multiple fields to tackle. Geography’s long-standing intellectual traditions in crossing those usual disciplinary boundaries are now better understood, increasingly seen as relevant and more widely respected in scholarly circles.
Long before I knew my own strengths, my professors took a vested interest in my passions and challenged me to go beyond the textbook. They taught me that being a geographer was more than being a walking atlas, but being able to recognize the complexities of the world around us, and to always be curious. Meghan McCollum, 2013 U.S. Rotary Global Scholar
Sociology equips students with the skills and knowledge to explore the social world, inspires them to lives that build flourishing human communities and provides students exceptional and engaging learning experiences. Our purpose is to nurture the intellectual and personal development of students, with special attention to the following competencies: 1.) the ability to analyze the powerful and pervasive impact of social context on individual behaviors and outcomes; 2.) the capacity to conceive and articulate structural explanations to account for societal and institutional outcomes (e.g., persistent social stratification); and 3.) the skill to interpret, construct, and evaluate empirical arguments about social reality.
Students are prepared to enter careers with critical analytic skills giving them insight and competence. They have entered fields such as Geriatrics, Social Work, Social Policy Analysis, Industrial Relations, and Law Enforcement as well as Sociology. Graduates have been admitted to post graduate programs in numerous regional state universities including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, as well as such private and public universities such as University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Sociology majors are eligible to participate in a fast track option that allows students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work after five years of study. Students then enroll in Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) courses during their senior year of undergraduate studies; the M.S.W. courses they complete during that year also satisfy general and directed undergraduate elective requirements, allowing students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree after four years of study. A final year of graduate coursework leads to completion of the M.S.W. degree, allowing students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years. Participation in this program requires careful advisement and scheduling, as well as permission of both the undergraduate department chair and the M.S.W. program director.
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Social Work is an excellent career choice for Sociology majors, as both disciplines utilize similar theories, research strategies, and practice methods. The Samford University M.S.W. program is a distinctively Christian learning community that prepares graduates for lives of service as advanced social workers who promote healing, wholeness, and reconciliation. The program offers concentrations in Clinical Social Work and Global Community Development and prepares graduates to serve in fields such as clinical, medical, and hospice social work; human services administration; child welfare; community organizing; and international relief.
Sociology has opened so many doors for me. I was able to conduct my own research and present it at a regional conference with many other professionals and students in sociology. Because of all of the hands-on experience I've had I am confident that I would be prepared for graduate school or any other career that I could imagine. Morgan Mitchell, Howard College of Arts and Sciences Ambassador