Catalog 2017–2018: Sociology

This is content from the Catalog 2017–2018 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

Department Chair: Marilyn Brown , Ph.D.

Social Sciences Division Office :
Office: University Classroom Building (UCB), Room 308
Tel: (808) 932-7100



Associate Professors:

Assistant Professor:

Humans spend their entire lives in social groups of various sizes and types. Sociology is the scientific study of human social behavior. Sociologists study formal organizations and various informal social groupings, such as the structures of racial and ethnic groups, families, religious institutions, and gender. Their focus is on patterns of behavior that result from following the implicit rules of society and culture.


The mission of the UH Hilo Sociology program is to provide students with the basics of theoretical and applied sociology. These basics include the application of sociological theory and research methods to the understanding of social processes, organizations, groups, and institutions.

Goals for Student Learning

Sociology students develop a critical understanding of social events and processes, resting on an underlying appreciation of social theories and the insights these yield about the structure of societies, the processes embedded in these structures, the nature of social change, and how all of these affect people in their everyday lives. Sociology majors and minors should also develop basic skills in social research, equipping them to apply what they have learned in real-life settings. In-depth study of specific social groups and organizations such as the institutions of family, religion, education, polity, and the economy should create an understanding of the interconnectedness of social events and processes as well as how social research informs us and helps to develop understanding of causal processes.

The UH Hilo Sociology program provides students with broad preparation in the basics of scientific sociology. Both the major and minor options are organized around a core of basic courses in statistics, research methodology, and theory. In addition, the faculty offer topical courses in a variety of subfields including family, ethnicity, religion, education, social psychology, populations, organizations, and aging. The core and topical offerings are complemented by practicum courses in applied sociology and social research in which students apply their newly acquired knowledge in a hands-on fashion in community agencies and/or actual research settings.

Prospects for Graduates

Graduates of the UH Hilo Sociology program are prepared to contribute to the operation and administration of both public and private social service agencies. They enter into a wide range of work roles, including family planning and counseling, law enforcement and corrections, case work, disability examiner, public relations, and more. The major also provides an excellent foundation for those who wish to continue their academic careers in a variety of fields including elementary and secondary education, social work, law, criminal justice, psychology, public health, and of course sociology.

The major and minor programs are designed to furnish students with skills, knowledge, and a scientific perspective useful in a large number of diverse occupations-especially those pertaining to the human services, social scientific research, planning, law, business, and public administration. The major program also provides excellent preparation for graduate work in sociology, social work, and public health as well as the other social sciences. A comprehensive advising program is available to assist students to match their personal interests and career objectives with the necessary courses and practical experiences.

Special Aspects of the Sociology Program

The program has two main options for students who want to apply what they are learning in the local community. For those interested in careers in social services or other applied Sociology fields, the internship program provides a supervised field experience working with professionals in the community. Students gain first-hand knowledge of the specific work situation, including its demands and rewards. At the same time they contribute to the work of the agency in which they are placed, making contacts and earning trust which often stand them in good stead when they are ready to seek employment locally. The Department also offers a research practicum in which students participate in a substantial research project. The practical application of research skills creates a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of social research, broadening the contribution the student will be equipped to make in both social service and more traditional academic careers.

The UH Hilo Sociology Club is strong and active. It organizes both social events and community service projects, providing a context both for building social ties among students and developing a fuller understanding of the community. Non-majors are welcome.