Coming to UBC in 2008, I had no clear idea what I wanted to study. Being rejected by the UBC Sauder School of Business (my first preference of study), a school that many students seemed to gravitate toward, was defeating. I yearned to transfer into Sauder (and perhaps specialize in Marketing) in my second year. I did not feel like I had a place in the Arts Faculty (my second preference of study) or know how it would be of value or interest to my academic and occupational pursuits.
After taking SOCI 200 (Family Sociology) as an elective with Professor Silvia Bartolic in term two of first year, however, I felt that majoring in Sociology would be a good choice (and therefore, I decided to stay in Arts). I really enjoyed the course and learning about the discourse and dynamics of social relations/relationships. Inspired by my positive experience in SOCI 200, I decided to take SOCI 100 (Intro to Sociology) with Chris MacKenzie in my second year. The professor’s unfaltering charisma and engagement with his students in SOCI 100 and the interesting material that I learned week after week made me realize that Sociology was my calling (as corny as it may sound).
So, what is Sociology?
Sociology examines and tries to make sense of the complexities of the relationship between individuals and the social and cultural world in the past, present, and future. It explores the hidden workings behind the familiar everyday world — from pop culture to the workplace, from the street to the boardroom. Sociological topics include age and aging; gender and sexualities; race and ethnicity; law and criminal activity; immigration; global citizenship; families and relationships; education; work; built environments; urban sociology; health and illness; social class and inequality; social movements; and communities and neighbourhoods. The mission of the Sociology Department at UBC is to provide students with knowledge and skills that enable them to think critically about the interconnectedness between personal lives, and social forces and institutions.
Only vaguely knowing what Sociology was when I entered UBC, as a fourth year student now, I can proudly share some reasons for considering a major/minor in Sociology, which, to me, is the BEST major there is (please excuse my biased stance)!
TOP 5 reasons why you should consider a major/minor in SOCIOLOGY:
1) Direct relevance to everyday life
Have you ever taken a course and wondered, how does what I am learning apply to the real world? Why should I care about the material? In most of the Sociology courses I have taken, I did not have to question the relevance of the course material to my life. I feel that what I have learned (especially regarding social interactions and relations) can be seen in action everywhere I go, from the campus to the transit context, from indoor malls to the streets. Most of what I have been taught has been observable in one form or another. Plus, I can use what I have learned in my classes to engage in meaningful conversations about the social world with people.
2) Stretch everyday assumptions about society
Sociology may not seem that hands-on but the experience of writing papers, conducting analysis, reading academic articles/textbooks, and engaging with lecture material have really helped me think more critically about society. One begins to uncover social norms that may have gone unquestioned while growing up and to ask inconvenient questions, such as whether patriarchy/sexism, racism, anti-homosexuality are still rampant within our society today. If so, how do the dominant and the dominated reinforce or mitigate these issues of oppression? In short, Sociology allows one to penetrate surface realities of the social world.
3) Welcoming and friendly faculty, staff, and students
Since the Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) building is relatively small, you get to see many of the same students frequently—especially if you take 300- and 400-level courses, the bulk of which are taught in ANSO. From my experience, the students, professors, and staff are friendly and helpful. Do not be surprised if you see any of them smiling at you, despite being strangers.
4) Diverse range of courses
If you do not want to be stuck studying one subject, but rather immerse yourself in a broad range of topics to expand your knowledge on various dimensions of society, then Sociology is for you! Variety is, after all, the spice of life!
5) Interactive class setting
Most Sociology classes are designed to help you engage with the material in a critical and meaningful way. This is done by having ongoing discussions with your peers, sharing your thoughts on the professor’s questions with the class, and doing class presentations. Not only does Sociology hone your writing, but also your verbal communication skills. You learn how to articulate your ideas thoughtfully and coherently in an intimate, non-judgmental class environment.
- SOCI 100 (Intro to SOCI) with Chris MacKenzie (one of the best professors ever!)
- SOCI 200 (SOCI of the Family) with Silvia Bartolic
- SOCI 310 (Canadian SOCI) – a required course if you plan to major/minor in SOCI, but the material you learn is so interesting!)
- IVEFS (Immigrant Vancouver Ethnographic Field School) Program
- Register under SOCI 495C on SSC
- Open to all faculties
- A 6-week, 6-credit summer program taught by a Sociology professor (Jennifer Chun) and an Anthropology professor (Alexia Bloch)
- Not only do you learn about immigration/migration on a local and global scale, but you also obtain hands-on volunteer experience conducting ethnographic research at a local community organization
Sociology, like any liberal arts major, is not as specialized as a trade-school or business program (unless you plan to become a Sociology professor or scholar/researcher), but you do graduate with “employable” or marketable skills, such as critical thinking, writing, research, and the ability to look at complex issues from a variety of perspectives. These are all assets to potential employers, and coupled with making the extra effort to get involved in extracurricular activities (on or off campus), such as joining a club or organization that may help you toward your job fields of interest, you are on your way to becoming a competent job candidate while also defining a pathway for yourself.
Some of the fields a degree in Sociology prepares you for (some of which may require post-graduate studies or programs) are government, research, business, entrepreneurship, marketing, community development, non-profit, social work, public affairs, human resources, teaching, media analysis, journalism, communications, social media, public health, immigration, event planning, consulting, and the arts.
That’s it for now (I have much more to say about Sociology but given the length of this article as is, it’s time to wrap up)! One thing I gotta mention — I am not only a proud Arts student, but also a proud Sociology student! I cannot see myself in any other faculty or major. If you are not sure what to major/minor in or if you are thinking of changing your specialization, hopefully, my article has given you a possible consideration. And don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions! For those who are in Sociology, I would like to hear your thoughts on your experience as a Sociology student!
To keep up-to-date about Sociology-related news, departmental and student-run events, resources, and opportunities, please join the following Facebook page and group: UBC Department of Sociology page and UBC Sociology Students’ Association (SSA) group.
Also, to ask questions or to join the SSA (membership is $5, which will get you free access to events, food, networking opportunities, and more!), email the 2011-12 Co-Presidents, Carven Li and Amanda Cheong, at firstname.lastname@example.org.