What is culture and where do I fit in? Sociology encourages you to ask critical questions about social issues and prepares you to become an agent of change.

The sociology department's small class size and many opportunities for independent research ensure that you will receive one-on-one attention and develop strong working relationships with faculty, who will strive to help you make meaningful connections across the curriculum that relate to your interests. You put skills learned in the classroom into practice through internships, service learning and research projects.

Recent grads are working in a range of positions in business, education, government, social services and law.                                                

We offer both a major and a minor in sociology and a pre-professional program in social work.

Summer Scholars Undergraduate Research and Creative Works Crowdfunding

Summer Scholar crowdfunding supports our students! Your support will help students explore their passion as they work with a faculty mentor on campus during the summer. In addition to working on the project, students participate in weekly academic workshops and social events as a community of scholars.

Globalization and Health in Palau

Students traveled to Palau for an intensive learning course to learn about Pacific Island culture, see firsthand the influence of globalization on Palauan livelihoods, and participate in ongoing community research that seeks to improve nutrition and food security.

Roanoke grads have gone on to prestigious graduate programs at schools like Washington and Lee, University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Learning through service in Belize

Roanoke students are immersed in community and culture through service-learning experiences.

Sample Course Offerings:

  • SOCI 277: Politics in ArtStudents having a discussion in class
  • SOCI 277: Sociology Goes to Bollywood
  • SOCI 277: Exploring Ghana 
  • PHST 208: Introduction to Public Health

    View all courses 

Student researchers contribute to the Genealogy of Slavery

Six students conducted in-depth research to help build a database of information about enslaved people who lived in Southwest Virginia before and during the Civil War.

Class of 2022 includes a record five valedictorians and two salutatorians

The seven valedictorians and salutatorians hail from five different states and earned degrees in 10 different majors. Six of the seven are members of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.

Professors Share Their Expertise

Photo of the sky, a city and the forest

The influence of nature on culture and social systems
Dr. Daniel Sarabia examines how natural phenomena have influenced the evolution of human societies and contributed to social system crises over the past 5,000 years in his co-authored article, "Nature-Culture Relations: Early Globalization, Climate Changes, and System Crisis."

Students at a circular table smiling

How narratives shape American national identity
Professor Shannon Anderson explores how key national narratives-the 'melting-pot,' Anglo-Protestantism and cultural pluralism/multiculturalism-create and perpetuate our national identity in her book, "Immigration, Assimilation, and the Cultural Construction of American National Identity."

May Term trip sparks student’s interest

students snorkeling with jellyfish

Alexandra DeLaricheliere '14 found her passion for sociology while on a May Term trip to the Pacific island nation of Palau, where she was part of a team of students studying nutrition and health. When she returned from Palau, she worked with Dr. Chad Morris to expand on their field research on childhood nutrition. She and Dr. Morris are co-authoring a book on the subject they hope will be published soon. 

Alex was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated with honors with a major in sociology and a concentration in anthropology. She's now in the applied anthropology graduate program at the University of South Florida. 

Professor Kristi Hoffman | Sociology

Kristi Hofman with Shelly CookeAs a part of her Criminology and Intimate, Marital and Family Relationships courses, Kristi Hoffman, professor of sociology, offered a service learning component. Students spent ten hours each semester volunteering at the Bethany Hall Recovery Home for Women in Roanoke, a residential treatment facility that helps women recover from substance abuse. Hoffman believes the Bethany Hall project dispels many stereotypes about drug offenders. "By being involved with the project, students develop a sense of empathy that they cannot get from a textbook," Hoffman says.

Shelly Cooke became involved with the Bethany Hall project as a part of a criminology class, caring for children while their mothers were in group therapy. Cooke says that it was an experience she will never forget. "The aspects of everyday life that these children have to deal with never crossed my mind when I was their age," she says.

Student’s love of sign language drives research in Ireland

Three years ago, Chelsea Schafer '18 learned a new language - American Sign Language. She grew to love sign language and the deaf culture, and an experience at her church further sparked her interest in this unique population.

"When a deaf couple joined our church, I realized I wanted to research how churches could minister to the deaf, a group that is normally forgotten about," said Schafer, a sociology major. In the spring semester of 2017, she studied in Ireland, where she researched how deafness and religious experiences interact. She also learned Irish Sign Language. Schafer hopes her research will equip churches to better minister to the deaf and hard of hearing populations.

A passion for service

Sarah Thompson with a child

Sarah Thompson has long wanted to serve others, that's part of what attracted her to sociology. While at Roanoke, she realized she could combine service and study: she conducted an internship at the Roanoke Refugee and Immigration Services. She then spent one summer working with children in Belize and another summer working with children in Ireland. Thompson graduated in 2011 with a major in sociology and a concentration in gender and women's studies. After graduation, she taught elementary school for two years in China. Thompson is now in Brussels in the University of Kent's graduate program in International Development.