CALS_Comm&EnvSoc-Marshfield

Sociologists study human social behavior and how societies are organized. The Department of Community and Environmental Sociology’s focus is on the relationship between people and their natural environment and with the communities in which people live, work, and play.

A major in community and environmental sociology is good preparation for jobs that involve an understanding of social issues, require knowledge of the functioning and organization of communities and the relationship between people and the natural environment, and involve data collection or data analysis. Community and environmental sociology graduates may be employed in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on a number of issues surrounding community development, environment, and advocacy, governmental planning or social service agencies, agricultural or environmental organizations, and cooperative or agribusiness enterprises. A major in community and environmental sociology also provides excellent preparation for careers in international development, law, and further academic work in sociology or other social sciences.

The Department of Community and Environmental Sociology offers a wide range of courses for both beginning and advanced students. The department's introductory course, C&E SOC/​SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology, is designed to explore the changing nature of rural development in the global economy.

UW–Madison community and environmental sociologists teach about a wide range of issues that are of critical importance to people and communities from Wisconsin to the low-income countries of the developing world. For example, students can study such matters as the growing controversies around energy, the implementation of environmental laws, sustainability, and the special problems and unique concerns of people in resource-dependent communities. Students can also focus on issues such as the effect of new agricultural technologies on family farms, the ways gender and race affect educational and occupational opportunities, and how community leaders and citizens address problems such as urban sprawl or rural poverty. In addition, students can examine issues such as population growth, the causes of world hunger, tropical rainforest destruction, and the prospects for achieving sustainable development in poor countries.

Many community and environmental sociology students build on their major by selecting one of the certificate programs available from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences or from other UW–Madison schools or colleges. Certificate programs enable students to expand their skills and study particular topics or issues in more depth. Community and environmental sociology majors often choose certificate programs in the concentration in analysis and research, global health, food systems, criminology, and environmental studies. Many students choose to pursue a double major, combining C&E sociology with fields such as Spanish, environmental studies, nutritional sciences, agronomy, biology, wildlife ecology, or environmental science. Students have also combined their undergraduate major in C&E sociology with graduate work in public policy through the La Follette School of Public Affairs accelerated master's of public affairs program.

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Core
C&E SOC/​SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology3
C&E SOC/​SOC  475 Classical Sociological Theory3
C&E SOC/​SOC  357 Methods of Sociological Inquiry3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  360 Statistics for Sociologists I 14
Electives within the Major 2
Select 6-9 credits from the Community course set 36-9
Select 6-9 credits from the Environment course set 36-9
Capstone
C&E SOC 500 Capstone Experience3
Total Credits28-35

Elective Courses within the Major

Community Course Set

C&E SOC/​SOC  210 Survey of Sociology3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  211 The Sociological Enterprise3
C&E SOC/​GEN&WS/​SOC  215 Gender and Work in Rural America3
C&E SOC/​SOC  245 Technology and Society3
C&E SOC/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​LACIS/​POLI SCI/​SOC/​SPANISH  260 Latin America: An Introduction3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  341 Labor in Global Food Systems3
C&E SOC/​SOC  365 Data Management for Social Science Research3-4
C&E SOC 375 Special Topics1-4
C&E SOC/​POP HLTH/​SOC  380 Contemporary Population Problems for Honors3
C&E SOC/​CURRIC/​ENVIR ST  405 Education for Sustainable Communities3
C&E SOC/​SOC  532 Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society3
C&E SOC/​SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​AGRONOMY/​MED HIST/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  573 Community Organization and Change3
C&E SOC/​AMER IND/​SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
C&E SOC/​SOC  610 Knowledge and Society3
C&E SOC/​SOC/​URB R PL  617 Community Development3
C&E SOC/​SOC  622 Advanced Topics in Critical Sociology3
C&E SOC/​SOC  623 Gender, Society, and Politics3
C&E SOC/​SOC  630 Sociology of Developing Societies/Third World3
C&E SOC/​SOC/​URB R PL  645 Modern American Communities3
C&E SOC/​SOC  649 Sociology of Work and Employment3
C&E SOC/​SOC  652 Sociology of Economic Institutions3
C&E SOC/​SOC  655 Microfoundations of Economic Sociology3
C&E SOC/​SOC  676 Applied Demography: Planning and Policy3
C&E SOC/​SOC  693 Practicum in Analysis and Research3

Environment Course Set

C&E SOC/​AGROECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​ENVIR ST  103 Agroecology: An Introduction to the Ecology of Food and Agriculture3
C&E SOC/​SOC  222 Food, Culture, and Society3
C&E SOC/​HIST SCI  230 Agriculture and Social Change in Western History3
C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
C&E SOC/​A A E/​SOC  340 Issues in Food Systems3-4
C&E SOC 375 Special Topics1-4
C&E SOC/​CURRIC/​ENVIR ST  405 Education for Sustainable Communities3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
C&E SOC/​AGRONOMY/​MED HIST/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  650 Sociology of Agriculture3
C&E SOC/​SOC  693 Practicum in Analysis and Research3

Credit Requirement

Must complete a total of 30 credits of C&E SOC courses. Students may count up to 4 credits of Independent Study (C&E SOC 299 Independent Study, C&E SOC 699 Special Problems), Internship (C&E SOC 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education),  or Thesis (C&E SOC 681 Senior Honors Thesis/C&E SOC 682 Senior Honors Thesis/C&E SOC 691 Senior Thesis/C&E SOC 692 Senior Thesis) here, with permission of their advisor.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. Understand how social science arguments are constructed and evaluated.

2. Develop ability to assess data quality and understand whether particular data is appropriate to answer specific questions.

3. Learn general theories on basic social processes, especially those related to the relationships between society and the environment and the social organization of communities.

4. Learn communication skills in the social sciences.

Four-year plan

Sample Community AND Environmental Sociology Four-Year Plan

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMM A or COMM B Course2-3COMM A or COMM B Course2-3
C&E SOC/​SOC  1403CHEM 103, 108, or 1094-5
First Year Seminar1C&E SOC Elective23
Electives19Electives (to reach ~15 credits)4-6
 15-16 13-17
Total Credits 28-33
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C&E SOC/​SOC  3573C&E SOC/​SOC  3604
C&E SOC Elective23C&E SOC Elective23
Ethnic Studies3Biological Science Course2
Electives6Humanities Elective3
 Additional Electives3
 15 15
Total Credits 30
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C&E SOC/​SOC  4753C&E SOC Elective23
C&E SOC Elective23International Studies3
Biological Science3Additional Science Course3
Additional Electives6Electives6
 15 15
Total Credits 30
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
C&E SOC 5003 3Humanities3
Electives12Electives12
 15 15
Total Credits 30

Students are assigned a faculty advisor once they declare the major. Prospective students are welcome to contact Professors Leann Tigges (lmtigges@wisc.edu) or Gary Green (gpgreen@wisc.edu) for more information.

Community and environmental sociology graduates may be employed in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on a number of issues surrounding community development, environment, and advocacy, governmental planning or social service agencies, agricultural or environmental organizations, and public health. A major in community and environmental sociology also provides excellent preparation for graduate school and careers in international development, law, public policy and nursing, and further academic work in sociology and other social sciences. In addition, recent graduates have been employed by state and local governments and not-for-profit environmental organizations. Many have gone on to serve communities through Peace Corps, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps, and some have established their own business in food and health-related industries.

Professors

Bell, Collins, Green (chair), Stoecker, Tigges

Associate Professors

Alatout, Curtis, Feinstein

Assistant Professors

Garoon, Rios, White

The program excels in offering our majors high-impact experiences that characterize the Wisconsin Experience, from rich capstone courses to varied internships and study-abroad experiences.  

  • Many of our students spend a summer or a semester studying abroad. Some students attend universities in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, while other students participate in a variety of alternative learning experiences. Study abroad programs offer the opportunity to earn credits toward your degree while learning about new cultures, communities, and environments.
  • Students also gain experiences outside of the classroom through internships and community based service learning courses, such as Professor Stoecker's offering of the Capstone Course (C&E SOC 500 Capstone Experience).  
  • The variety of internships undertaken by our majors is vast but all offer students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to "real world" settings. A list of some of the internship opportunities is provided on our website.  
  • Our majors have opportunities to enhance their research skills by working on a faculty member's research, undertaking a senior thesis project, and through completion of the Concentration in Analysis and Research.