Learn Today. Change Tomorrow.

Gain insight into social problems, social theory and social change through the sociology department at HWS. As an activist and change oriented department, you’ll learn and study contemporary social issues, such as power and inequality, community, social policy, criminology and criminal justice, organizational dysfunction, urban life, educational reforms, marriage, and the family. You’ll exit the program with a strong set of skills for asking and answering broad and narrow questions about social life.

Student SpotlightWorking for a Cleaner Planet

Britta Wilkerson '24 

With her background knowledge collecting and critically analyzing data from her sociology courses, Britta will work in Belize with Citizen Science GIS to conduct community-based research on reducing waste.

"I look forward to going into the Hopkins Village and collaborating with the community members to create sustainable solutions that will help protect them from flooding and keep their oceans clean by preventing marine debris."


see how associate professor of sociology ervin kosta and clare o'connell '24 build a relationship through learning 



And Research

Sociology students looking to engage more in their work can study and complete Honors and research projects in their chosen topic with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Past examples of Honors projects include:

  • Grace Mongeau '22: Navigating Hookup Culture and Social Life: Exploring the Experiences of College Students with Disabilities
    James Sutton, Adviser 
  • Taylor Stevens Pluta '22: Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Stories of Resiliency and Second Chances
    James Sutton, Adviser 
  • Jonas Adams '21: A Community of Visitors? Exploring the Media and Belonging in Geneva, New York
    Kendralin Freeman, Adviser
  • Ara E. McCorkle '20: Professionalization of Past Criminality and Addiction: How Former Prisoners and Addicts Manage a “Professional Ex” Identity
    James Sutton, Adviser
  • Meredith Steinfeldt '20: Becoming Empathetic: An Exploration of Empathetic Masculinities on Campus
    James Sutton, Adviser

Experiential EducationBeyond the Classroom

By studying sociology, you can partner with Geneva area schools to explore the class relations of students, collaborate with non-profits to impact government policy or probe solutions to gender discrimination in American or global institutions.

Because learning goes beyond textbooks or classrooms and into the community, you’ll get to explore the world’s most pressing issues while building the skills and insights you need to play a role in making its better future.



No Borders:Global Education

Study the Maori in New Zealand or inequality in Vietnam.

Wherever you go, you’ll apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.


Belonging, Diversity and Equity

Sociology courses focus not only on the academic approaches to studying power and difference but also the practical processes of building community across categories of difference and contributing to organizations for social change.

Sampling of courses that address topics of Belonging, Diversity and Equity:

Community based courses:

  • SOC 251: Sociology of the City
  • SOC 290: Sociology of Community
  • SOC 465: Senior Seminar

Courses that address power and difference:

  • SOC 221: Race and Ethnic Relations
  • SOC 223: Inequalities
  • SOC 225: Sex and Gender
  • SOC 238: Immigrant America
  • SOC 251: Sociology of the City
  • SOC 224: Social Deviance
  • SOC 266: Penology

Courses that address policy and organizational change:

  • SOC 226: Working Families
  • SOC 266: Sociology of Police and Policing
  • SOC 295: Alcohol Use and Abuse
  • SOC 301: Sociology of the Future
  • SOC 357: Race and Education
  • SOC 375: Social Policy


Explore areas like disparities and social consequences of the past, present and how they’ll affect the future.

SOC 357 Race and Education

Through in-depth analysis, explore the ways education in the United States at times challenges and at times reproduces racial hierarchy.

SOC 295 Alcohol Use and Abuse

Analyze the causes and consequences of alcohol use and misuse both in terms of its social construction in various cultural contexts as well as biochemical influences.

SOC 224 Social Deviance

Examine power relationships that are inherent in deviance and social control, and learn how “deviants” experience deviance on a personal level.

FacilitiesOne Building.Many Opportunities

Stern Hall is named for Hebert J. Stern ’58, P’03, LL.D. ’74. Stern served as judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and as judge of the United States Court for Berlin. A former trial lawyer, Stern authored Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took on the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won. 

With all sociology classes and department faculty housed in one building, Stern Hall provides an all-in-one experience for students in the subject. Take advantage of 27,000 square feet of academic space, including classrooms fit for audio and visual displays, research and seminar rooms and a large lecture classroom and lab. You’ll learn in a setting that offers similar resources to larger universities but with the smaller, personalized instruction that Hobart and William Smith offer.



Alum ImpactSetting the PathFor the Future

Sarah Garrett, ’18
Special Security Representative at MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Coming into college, Sarah thought her plans would be studying psychology and economics. An introductory class in sociology, though, taught by Associate Professor of Sociology James Sutton (one of only a handful of criminologists at small liberal arts colleges nationwide), got her interested in criminology and led to her future career.

Companies that Employ Our Sociology Graduates

  • American Museum in Britain
  • Americorps
  • Aspen Institute
  • Bain Capital
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • Houghton Mifflin Publishers
  • HSBC
  • IBM
  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Microsoft
  • The Museum of Modern Art
  • New York Magazine
  • Target Corporation
  • World Health Organization
  • Yale University

Universities where our Sociology graduates are studying

  • Boston College of Social Work
  • Brown University
  • Case Western University School of Law
  • Columbia University
  • Indiana University
  • Northeastern University
  • Pace University Law School
  • Rutgers University
  • Simmons College
  • Syracuse University
  • Tufts University
  • UMass Amherst
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Utah Law School