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Family Studies: A New Concentration for Sociology Majors
07.11.13 |
Dr. Goodfellow
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A new family studies concentration within the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at Lebanon Valley College will prepare students for some of today’s fastest-growing careers. According to the program directors, family is society’s primary institution and, as such, the demand for these jobs will continue to grow.

During the 2011–2012 academic year, an American Sociological Association consultant analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the sociology department. The consultant recommended adding an additional concentration and the department took it under consideration. Many students voiced their desire for a career in human services, social work, resourcing, or guidance counseling, and after many meetings and a survey of the department faculty’s expertise, the department was able to create the family studies concentration. Sharon Arnold, chair of sociology and criminal justice and associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Marianne Goodfellow, associate professor of sociology, will serve as the core professors for the new concentration.

“This concentration will allow students to have a more focused learning experience; meaning that there are no random requirements to fulfill. Having courses built around a solid concentration helps students transfer their abilities they learned in the field to their graduate school studies as well as real world application,” Goodfellow said.

The family studies concentration follows the core sociology major classes but includes specialized courses such as Marriage & Family, Perspectives on Aging, Medical Sociology, and Special Topics in Family Studies and Adoption. Many former sociology students have gone on to graduate programs in social work and guidance counseling. The classes within this new concentration will especially aid students interested in those fields.

Students who concentrate in family studies will develop knowledge and skills in five domains pertaining to the family in society:

- complex and extended families
- culture and family life
- families and social institutions
- family stratification
- family violence.

Students will also learn to work with families on a case by case basis and to think about family in a larger, more sociological perspective. All of these skills “will help students to have a greater view of family life and help with their sociological imagination or sociological perspective based on their social science research skills and tools,” Goodfellow said.

Recent sociology graduates are working as a caseworker at Department of Public Welfare, therapist at Turning Point, addiction counselor at New Insights, project manager at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and therapeutic staff support at TW Ponessa & Associates. These are just some of the options that await students upon graduation.

The new concentration is available for students this fall and will accept 25 to 30 students per year. For more information about the family studies concentration, visit the sociology website.

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