Sociology Department at Ripon College

Academics | Sociology


Sociology focuses on the structure of technologically advanced societies, their related social problems and the many ways these problems affect the individual. As societies continually grow more complex and ethnic and cultural differences collide within the modern world, understanding social behavior becomes essential for the business executive, professional and citizen alike.

All sociology courses deal with current social issues and feature regular discussion and debate. The courses are chosen carefully to represent diverse aspects of the field; no one theory or doctrine is emphasized at the expense of others. All courses make extensive use of visual media.


Courses & Requirements

Society Affects the Individual

How do sociologists view the world? We don’t exist in a vacuum: some of our choices in life may be purely individual, but most are heavily influenced by our society. To a sociologist, there is no true freedom; all aspects of our lives are social in one way or another.

A better understanding of ourselves is only one reason students study sociology. If you want to find out why the crime rate is so high, how to reduce population growth or why health-care costs are skyrocketing, knowledge of our society’s values and social institutions is vital. How can policies and programs to improve our society and solve social problems succeed if we do not understand the origin of these problems?

Thus, sociology is an ideal liberal arts subject. By examining how society affects the individual, on one hand, and how human beings run societies, on the other hand, sociology involves students as individuals in the largest and most pressing social issues of our time.

Course Guide: Sociology



Unique Study Opportunities

For seniors, training in analysis and presentation of original field research is required; no sociology student leaves Ripon without experience in computerized data analysis. The opportunity to develop and execute an original, individual research project is a valuable experience not available at many institutions. All students describe their results at a public Sociology Symposium on campus. Some have gone on to present their projects to professional associations of sociologists at state and national levels; over the past decade, several have received regional and national awards for their work.

Students are encouraged to extend themselves off-campus. Internships in a variety of social service and criminal justice agencies give advanced students an opportunity to apply their knowledge in the real world and gain job experience at the same time. Many sociology students also participate in such off-campus programs as the ACM Chicago Program’s Urban Studies Emphasis, making experiential education an important part of their Ripon sociology studies.



Jacqueline Clark

Marc Eaton

Gregg Peter



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


What can I do with a Sociology Major?

Sociology can lead to careers in research and teaching in university and collegiate settings. It also provides a background for further work in other disciplines of the social sciences, humanities, and biological sciences, as well as for professional careers in government, business, law, medicine, social services, and other fields.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in public health, sociology, psychology, social work, and servant/ethical leadership; and careers as teachers, lawyers, therapists, professors, and social workers.

Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety
  • Menasha Public Works
  • Mount Royal College
  • Peace Corps
  • Saint Norbert College
  • St. Andrew’s School
  • The Nielsen Co.
  • Wisconsin Early Autism Project

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Autism Line Therapist
  • Case Manager
  • Director of Kids Club
  • Law Clerk
  • Grant Manager
  • Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Admissions Counselor
  • Homeless Shelter Manager
  • Residential Youth Counselor
  • Police Officer
  • Radiologic Technologist

“The sociology courses were great preparation for graduate school and for working on social-justice issues. I think it is important to really understand social problems in order to do something about them and make a positive difference in the world.”

Christina Schwengel ’97

Cedarburg (Wisconsin) High School; MPA – Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, 1999; currently development director for Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, D.C., focusing on poverty and social-justice issues