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UH Hilo Sociology folks at a Gender and Womens Studies presentation 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. We are committed to empowering education that helps our graduates to become engaged citizens who use their sociological imaginations to better understand and address the social problems of their interpersonal, local, national, and global social worlds.

Goals for Student Learning

UH Hilo Sociology CAS award winners of 2023 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.

UH Sociology students visit the 'Ulu Co-op to learn more about food systems. 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 offers topical courses in a variety of subfields including criminology, social problems, social stratification, race and ethnicity, gender, the sociology of disaster, education, family, social psychology, organizations, globalization, island studies, social movements, and politics. Although students are given a lot of freedom in choosing electives, ideally they are able to focus their studies on the subfield that is most relevant to their desired career path.

The core and topical offerings are complemented by practicum and special topics 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.

Our Bachelors of Arts in Sociology major requirements can be found here.

Our minor in Sociology requirements can be found here.

Prospects for Graduates

UH Hilo Sociology students and Dr. Meiser complete a service-learning project at The Food Basket 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.

Food and Society students visit GoFarms on a huaka'i.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.

Testimonials from Alumni

Erin S. Horttor

Communication Coordinator, Office of Admissions
Eastern Oregon University

The professors in the Sociology department of UH Hilo are dedicated to individual student success and outcome. In my experience, the professors took an active interest in broadening my perspective and guiding me in the process of honing in on my passion and developing the skills I needed to pursue a career. My immersion in demographics and the incredible opportunities within the department internship program led directly to my qualifications for my position as the communication coordinator at Eastern Oregon University.

Byers H. Naʻope

Graduate Student
School of Social Work, UH Mānoa

What I have learned from my professors within the Department of Sociology at our home campus University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has seriously prepared me not only for the rigor of graduate school, but also for my life. The discipline of sociology, sociological research, its application of social theory, and statistical reasoning has benefited me with the tools to think critically in academia and in the field as well. As a Sociology student, or student in general, strive hard for your goals and make your dreams a reality; you can do it! I can't thank you enough, Dr. Hern, Dr. Okinaka, Dr. Brown and Dr. Curtis.

Special Aspects of the Sociology Program

Dr. Hern and a sociology student in pose after presenting research The program has several options for students who want to apply what they are learning in the local community. The two main options are the internship and the practicum programs. 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 stands 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.

Students in our department are also given the opportunity to engage in research projects with faculty members through course work or by assisting with faculty research projects. In our senior seminar and special topics courses, students have developed applied research projects dealing with many local issues. Exceptional students who are particularly interested in conducting sociological research in preparation for graduate school are sometimes asked to become involved in faculty research projects as research assistants.

Sociology Club

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.

As a Sociology Club we take part in helping out the society we are a part of. This includes beautification projects like painting park pavilions and bus stops, cleaning up public areas that have been left to the overgrowth of nature, highway and beach clean up projects, as well as fundraisers and events with local organizations who service those in need. Through understanding and integrity we remain responsive to what society is today while advancing awareness of the unique ability that our diverse, one-of-a-kind local community has to empower those in need.

Our 2023 graduation party. For more information about the UH Hilo Sociology Club or to become a member, contact the Club faculty advisor, Alton Okinaka. Non-majors are welcome.