Community and Environmental Sociology

Have you ever wondered why people go hungry in the midst of plenty? Or how population changes and new industrial production practices affect the environment? Do you care about the survival of small towns or distinctive cultures in an increasingly globalized and homogenized world? Would you like to learn about new strategies for community development? If so, a major in Community and Environmental Sociology may be what you are looking for.

What Community and Environmental Sociologists Study

Sociologists study human social behavior and the organization of society. Faculty in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology study and teach about a wide range of issues related to the sociology of agrofood systems, community development, environmental sociology, applied demography, science and technology studies and the sociology of labor markets.

We study issues such as:

  • Problems of the rural/urban interface, such as urban sprawl and the loss of farmland.
  • People and environmental interactions
  • The socioeconomic composition of Wisconsin’s population
  • Poverty and well-being among minorities
  • Social impacts of new technologies
  • How globalization affects communities in the United States, people in low-income countries and the environment
  • The organization of agricultural production and cultural and political dimensions of food consumption
  • The development and deployment of new technologies
  • How socioeconomic and political factors shape the way that science is conducted
  • How people organize themselves to improve the communities in which they live and work

Gear Your Studies To Your Interests

Community and Environmental Sociology faculty teach a wide range of courses for both beginning and advanced students. If you choose to major in Community and Environmental Sociology, you will take a common core of theory and methods courses.

Our faculty are committed to providing a quality educational experience for undergraduates. Each of our majors is assigned a faculty advisor, and professors meet with their advisees at least once each semester to provide guidance in course selection and the overall design of each student’s academic program.

Beyond the Classroom

One advantage of being part of a relatively small department is that you can get involved in what we do outside the classroom. Some students find jobs in the department, and there are often opportunities to participate in faculty projects to gain practical experience in research and analysis. The Department of Community and Environmental Sociology has several research and outreach programs – including the Applied Population Laboratory and the Program on Agricultural Technology Studies – which offer students job and internship opportunities. Students who work with our Extension faculty help conduct applied research projects throughout the state.

Career Opportunities

Community and Environmental Sociology majors acquire a broad range of skills, ideas and social research knowledge that can be applied to a variety of career paths. A degree in Community and Environmental Sociology is good preparation for a wide array of jobs in government agencies, non-profit organizations, education, and elsewhere.

Here are some examples of what our majors have done after graduating:

  • Legal Advocate, Walworth County Association for the Prevention of Family Violence
  • Director of Policy Development, Missouri Farmers Union
  • Research Supervisor, Wisconsin Survey Research Center, UW-Madison
  • Research Scientist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Peace Corp Volunteer

Some of our students have double-majored, combining community and environmental sociology with fields such as education, nursing, or wildlife ecology, then gone on to jobs in elementary education, health care and natural resources management. Many of our graduates pursue master’s or doctorate degrees in sociology or a related field, or earn professional degrees in fields such as law or social work.

Whatever they do, our graduates are prepared for careers in which they can do positive things to address important issues affecting communities and people of Wisconsin, the nation, and the world.

Financial Assistance

Approximately $500,000 in scholarships are awarded each year to College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students. Criteria are based on curricular activities and scholastic achievement.

For more information contact the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology:

Prospective Student Services: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Office of Academic Affairs

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an AA/EEO institution. University policies create additional protection that prohibits harassment on the basis of cultural background and ethnicity. Inquires concerning these policies may be directed to the appropriate campus admitting or employing unit or to the Equity and Diversity Resource Center, 179-A, Bascom Hall, (608) 263-2378, TTY (608) 263-2473.