Diverse careers from new online degree

Sociology and Social Welfare degree goes onlineOnline degree

July 19, 2018 LA GRANDE, Ore. –  One of Eastern Oregon University’s most diverse degrees opens to online students this fall.

The Sociology and Social Welfare concentration within EOU’s Anthropology/Sociology program blends research methodology and theory with applied opportunities.

“Our students learn the skills necessary for designing and conducting research, along with critical thinking skills to evaluate their findings,” sociology professor Jennifer Puentes said. “In practice, this can be applied to a wide variety of settings preparing students for multiple career tracks or graduate work.”

She listed business, community services, health services, higher education, law, publishing and social services among the many fields where Sociology and Social Welfare graduates find success.

“In addition to understanding how to evaluate competing arguments, they learn to apply this knowledge to everyday life in the world around them,” Puentes said. “We develop this by encouraging inquiry and challenging assumptions.”

She said students learn to look for evidence-based research to develop their own positions on issues.

This highly applicable concentration is still available to on-campus students, but now their online peers also have access to the courses and faculty members on a more flexible schedule and modality.

“As a society today, we need critical thinkers who can understand complex arguments and evaluate evidence appropriately,” Puentes said. “This a applies to everything from assessing data for marketing, to political campaign strategies, to planning case management.”

Henry O’Keeffe, who graduated from EOU in 2008, took his sociology degree to law school and now works as a lawyer at Greater Oregon Behavioral Health (GOBHI). He provides legal advice, reviews contracts, keeps an eye on privacy and health laws, and works with legislators.

“Spending time in smaller classes gave me the confidence to speak up and become comfortable with talking in class,” he said. “That experience prepared me for the socratic method we were subjected to in law school.”

O’Keeffe’s one-on-one experience at EOU remains a cornerstone of the Sociology/Social Work concentration online. Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Nate Lowe said the move to offer this concentration online is in response to demand for an online degree that aligns especially with those in careers in the human services.

“Courses emphasize classroom interaction, writing and research/scholarship, small group work that reflects real-world workplaces, and numerous opportunities to engage in the community and apply concepts from class to real-world circumstances,” Lowe said.

He said the concentration provides many of the “soft skills” employers value, including small group work, strong written and oral communication skills, and fluency interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.

“There’s ample opportunities to connect learning and scholarship in the classroom with community-based research and projects,” he said. “Plus, students become part of a supportive learning community that values diversity, mutual respect and the pursuit of social justice.”

Graduates are working in law enforcement, interpersonal violence, group residential care, family services working in K-12 system, Oregon Dept. of Human Services, community health, veterans’ services, mental health services, addiction counseling and community development. Students have also gone on to attain graduate degrees in social work, sociology, law, teaching, public administration and family counseling. Several students have completed service with the Peace Corps in Bulgaria, Morocco, and Peru.

To learn more about the Sociology and Social Welfare concentration or EOU’s Anthropology/Sociology program as a whole, visit eou.edu/anthropology-sociology or contact sociology professor Bill Grigsby at bgrigsby@eou.edu.


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