Trees frame the entrance to the Madsen Center

Madsen Social Science Center 

How does the global economy influence work in the U.S.? How do things that are happening outside of the home impact family life? Why do some illnesses receive more resources and attention than others? Can you really be an "individual?" What are prisons overcrowded? How do people experience aging in America? Why do women continue to earn less income than men for the same kinds of work? 

Make A Difference In A Diverse World 

Sociology is the study of social life, change, and the causes and consequences of human behavior in relationship to existing systems in society. Not only do our majors have opportunities for program specific scholarships, studying Criminology, Deviance, and Law; Family and Community Services; Medicine and Healthcare Systems; or Sociology in the Department of Sociology prepares you to understand and engage in our rapidly changing and increasingly diverse social world. Studying sociology provides a valuable foundation for any career since it teaches students to identify, understand, and critically examine how social systems influence individual behavior, as well as understand how changes in the structure of society influences society as a whole. Our faculty earned their degrees from The University of Notre Dame, University of KansasCase Western Reserve, and SDSU, publish research spanning a variety of topics, and engage in interdisciplinary work including projects with undergraduate students. Through classroom learning and research that applies "systems level” thinking as an analytic tool, we equip students for graduate school or a diverse range of career fields including community development, human services, business, criminology (law, government, judicial and law enforcement services), medicine, healthcare practice, administration, and policy, education, or the ministry.

Hear firsthand about sociological preparation and current career success from our recent graduates!

Course Work

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice provides students with a broad background in criminological theory, the criminal justice system, and the interconnections between legal, judicial and enforcement, practices, and problems. The experience of deviance, social control, and the criminal justice system varies for individuals of differing gender, race, class/socioeconomic status, sexuality, and age. This major helps students examine the social processes that influence the labeling of individuals as deviant, their interactions (and outcomes) with adult and juvenile courts, correctional systems, reentry programs, as well as the labor market, schools, and communities. As a result, students gain an understanding of the dynamics of power, and the role of government, law, education, economic, and family institutions. Students studying Criminal Justice will be preparing for careers in law enforcement, corrections, the juvenile justice system, the judicial sector, municipal management, and nonprofits organizations. 

Faculty contact for Criminal Justice

Suggested pairings: Government/International Affairs and Criminology, Deviance, and Law; Psychology and Criminology, Deviance, and Law; Journalism and Criminology, Deviance, and Law; Computer Science and Criminal Justice.

Family and Community Services

Family and Community Services examines issues facing families of all forms, and communities broadly defined. From eviction and homelessness, to domestic violence, to marriage and parenting, students learn how family life intersects with economic, political, and cultural structures. Because Augustana is embedded in the community of Sioux Falls, students in this program will have the chance to learn about and apply these topics in our dynamic local and regional context. We are passionate about understanding and serving the needs of families in our local, regional, and global communities, and our recent graduates are making a difference in such communities around the world. Students studying Family and Community Services enter careers in social work and social services, community development and organization, child and youth services, and family education and advocacy. 

Faculty contact for Family and Community Services: 

Suggested pairings: Education and Family and Community Services; Business Administration and Family and Community Services; Government/International Affairs and Family and Community Services; Religion and Family and Community Services, Psychology and Family and Community Services

Medicine and Healthcare Systems

Medicine and Healthcare Systems explores the complexities that are emblematic of the rapidly changing healthcare field. From the social patterning of health, experience of illness, production of medical and health-related knowledge, to an understanding of dynamics with other social institutions that influence medicine and healthcare in society. For example, what exactly does it mean to be "healthy" and have a "good quality of life?” What shapes the differential economic resources between various diseases or disabilities? What role do healthcare administrators occupy in the delivery of care? Medicine and Healthcare Systems students will be able to analyze connections between government, economic, religious, educational, business, and medical systems, as well as have opportunities for independent study or collaborative research. Our students enter careers in medicine and healthcare practice, policy, advocacy, management, research, technology, and reporting. Graduate school and professional fields include nursing, medicine, dental/oral health, epidemiology, public health, engineering, and translational science.

Faculty contact for Medicine and Healthcare Systems:

Suggested pairings: Management or Business Administration and Medicine and Healthcare Systems, “Pre-Med” or “Pre-Dentistry” (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry) and Medicine and Healthcare Systems; Nursing and Medicine and Healthcare Systems; Journalism or Media Studies and Medicine and Healthcare Systems; Aging Studies and Medicine and Healthcare Systems


Sociology (Society) is a traditional major or minor in Sociology that provides a broad conceptual understanding of how societies work, including how individuals, institutions, and structures are systematically connected. When students pair a traditional Sociology major or minor with another field of study, their ability to identify the social contexts and consequences of their career field makes them stand out above other candidates. For example, students studying Marketing and Sociology (Society), Computer Information Systems and Sociology (Society), Biology and Sociology (Society), Government/International Affairs and Sociology (Society), or Business Communication and Sociology (Society), explicitly illustrates the benefits of a liberal arts education by intersecting a major/field of study with a sociological understanding of societal structures (provided by our majors or minors).

Faculty contact for Sociology (Society) Majors or Minors:

Learn More

All courses offered in the Sociology Department are designed to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, research, writing, communication, and interpersonal skills. Learn more details about requirements for: Criminology, Deviance, and Law; Medicine and Healthcare Systems; Family and Community Services; or Sociology (Society) here. Our courses facilitate high levels of faculty-student contact and collaboration. In addition to traditional classroom learning, students are encouraged to participate in internships, study abroad, or independent or faculty-led research during their course of study as an important step in career preparation.

News and Recent Events

"Re-Presenting" Native Americans in South Dakota's Archival History now on Exhibit at the washington Pavilion 

This new exhibit now on display at the Washington Pavilion through November 30th features artistic “re-presentations” of archival photographs created by Flandreau Indian Schools students, and Augustana undergraduate led by Augustana Professors Carolyn Ly-Donovan and Anna Reich, with Collections Assistant Liz Cisar from the Center for Western Studies. This exhibit is supported by the Council of Independent Colleges initiative, “Humanities Research for the Public Good.” For more information see also Augustana University’s news release on the collaborative project and exhibition.


The Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills, in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Women's Right to Vote, will be featuring with community partners, a multimedia/modern dance/chamber music concert. The event is currently scheduled for July 24th and will be utilizing material from Prof. Susan Bunger’s January 2018 Argus Leader article ("# MeToo highlights history of women trying to overcome injustice") about the Dignity sculpture (by Dale Lamphere).

Sociology Major Awarded Augustana's 2020 covenant Award for Service

Nominees for the Covenant Award for Service are described as those who have a commitment to service on campus and in the broader community; who inspire others to serve; who serve quietly without fanfare and with no desire for recognition; and whose future plans have been shaped by service. Manaal Ali is a senior from Sioux Falls. Her majors are sociology and government and international affairs with a minor in biology. Congratulations Manaal!


Dr. Carolyn Ly-Donovan recently published, "Where are the Native Americans? Early Priorities of the South Dakota State Medical Association," a co-authored article completed with former Augustana students: Reed Ritterbusch (18' Sociology and Biochemistry), Evan Meyer ('17 Biology), and Daniel Schmidtman (Biology).  

Study ABroad sociology & Business "Brexit" Course (INTERIM 2020) featured on South Dakota Public Broadcast radio

Dr. Bill Swart (Sociology) and Professor Jason Harris (Business Adminstration) led Augustana undergraduates throughout the United Kingdom on a study abroad course - "Brexit - The Great Divorce and Life After the European Union" for three weeks in Januaray of 2020. Upon their return they shared their experiences with SDPB Radio's Lori Walsh: SDPB Radio Spotlight on Brexit Course.

NATIONALLY COMpetitve grant awarded to sociology and art faculty for interdisciplinary project aimed at public outreach

A project by Dr. Carolyn Ly Donovan along with Professor Anna Reich (Art/Photography), representing Augustana University, was selected for the 2019-2020 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Humanities for the Public Good Grant.