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Sociology majors at Reed develop a greater understanding of the underpinnings of social structure and the enduring patterns of social relations. The department’s course sequence begins with an introduction to the core fields and paradigmatic issues of sociological theory and research. Upper-division courses, each focused on a distinct subfield of sociology, cover theoretical precursors and founders of social science theory, major theoretical models sociologists have developed, and current issues and controversies represented by recent scholarship.

Professors in the department teach and conduct research across a number of subfields, including political sociology and group capacity for collective action; economic and organizational sociology and comparative institutional analysis; sociology of culture; network theories of social structure; science, knowledge, and technology; and gender, race and ethnic studies.

Social research provides a firm basis for a vast amount of public and private decision-making in contemporary society, and the department’s courses provide hands-on experience with a range of contemporary social research methodology: public policy evaluation; statistical analysis of public opinion data, including census and other demographic and geographic data; media and content analytic approaches; network and relational methodologies; and ethnographic and interview-based methods.

“The classes opened up a way of thinking I had never experienced before, and the students in my conferences graciously shared perspectives on readings that I am personally unable to access. Students also have great opportunities in sociology classes to do independent research on topics that interest them, which prepares sociology majors and non-majors alike for thesis work. SIERRA SWANN ’17

Professor profile

Professor Kjersten Bunker Whittington

Gender, Science, and the Knowledge Economy
photo of Professor Kjersten Bunker Whittington

A quantitative and network methodologist, Professor Kjersten Bunker Whittington focuses her research at the intersection of gender and the production of science, network theories of social structure, science industries, and the knowledge economy.

Her work has addressed sex disparities in research productivity across academic and industrial sectors; gender, productivity, and parenthood dynamics among science professionals; and gendered decision-making in venture capital contexts, among other topics.

Kjersten is also involved in research that focuses on the formulation and development of science policy and inclusion efforts in women’s health research initiatives. “I love that Reed professors can be heavily involved in teaching and research simultaneously,” says Kjersten. “The sociology department fosters a tight-knit community that allows professors to work closely with, and really get to know, students during their time here.”

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Interdisciplinary Study

International and comparative policy studies (ICPS) is an interdisciplinary major in which students take courses in sociology, anthropology, economics, history, political science, and sometimes foreign languages. It involves the study of international relations, comparative policy analysis, and international economic development. ICPS theses have addressed a broad variety of topics: immigration identity, refugee acceptance, antibiotic resistance, renewable energy, and corruption.

Graduate and Professional Schools


  • Doctorate programs in sociology
  • Masters programs in public health, social work, education, demography and urban planning, journalism
  • Professional degree programs in law and medicine

Recent Senior Thesis Titles

“Race, Criminality, and Legal Advocacy for Justice Reform”
Alice Chang ’20

“Whose Truth is Out There?: Knowledge Construction in the UFO Subculture”
Molly Johnson ’19

“Media Portrayal of Protesters in Ferguson After the Death of Michael Brown: A Comparison of Local and National Newspapers, August 9, 2014–December 31, 2014”
Olivia Kilgore ’16

“New Choices in Primary Care: A Statistical Analysis of Urgent Care Patients”
Kaitlyn Jackson ’16

“Following the Scent of Turpentine: The Pearl’s Art Galleries and Interactions with Re-Development”
Olivia Dawson ’16

What Do Alumni Do?

Graduate Student in Sociology
University of Chicago
Ming Yan ’21

Behavior Therapist
Blue Spring Pediatrics
Sophie Naranjo-Rivera ’20

Program Manager
Denver Transit Alliance
Jamie Perkins ’11

Clinical Research Coordinator
UCSF Center for Next-Gen Precision Diagnostics
Kelsey Zorn ’10

Emergency Management Specialist
University of Oregon
Emma Stocker ’07

Senior Associate
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Mary Murphy ’04