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Strategic Plan for Sociology

Context For Planning

The Department As the most comprehensive of the social sciences sociology seeks to understand the ongoing human construction of the worlds we inhabit. Its affinity for the liberal arts tradition, we think, is obvious. By fostering what we sociologists like to call the sociological imagination (Mills 1961) we engage ourselves and our students with a multifaceted, interdisciplinary, critical consciousness of the complex and dynamic inter-relationships between individuals, groups, and socio-cultural structures and systems. We do this by drawing as freely as possible from across the disciplines in an effort to create knowledgeable, culturally literate, politically astute world citizens well-rounded by a liberal arts education. The Department of Sociology at GVSU began to take on its current form in 2000 when it split from its former partners in the joint department of sociology, anthropology, and geography. Since that time we have evolved into a department with eighteen full-time faculty and a relatively steady number of about 130 majors. Our faculty have attained local, national, and international recognition for scholarship, service, and teaching. Our students are active in the campus and local community. In recent years we have had great success with graduate school placements. Our students have either been accepted to or gone on to enroll in graduate programs at Brandeis, The Ohio State University, the University of California at Davis and at Santa Barbara, and Arizona State University among others. The Sociology Department is currently a major contributor to the University-wide General Education program, the Honors College and interdisciplinary programs. Members of our department regularly teach three courses in the Social Science Foundations, one World Perspectives Courses, and eight courses in U.S. Diversity. The department teaches nine issues courses in five of the issues categories. In an average academic year, approximately 70% of the sections we teach are designated General Education. While we see our heavy commitment to general education and to other programs as wholly appropriate and even natural given the critical and multi-paradigmatic character of sociology it also presents significant challenges. We struggle to meet our teaching commitment and typically rely on adjuncts and visitors. Our current strategic plan positions us to do well in the coming years. We are forward thinking with our faculty goals, curriculum and student needs. For example, we recognize our great need to hire more faculty and reduce our reliance on adjuncts and include in our plan our goals for hiring more tenure track faculty. We look to integrate more opportunities for our students to think outside the box, for example through the Sociology Colloquium or community partnerships. We believe we are evolving to meet the needs of students and our university through curriculum revision of our major, minor and aging and adult minor. Every day we strive to provide our students with the best preparation and education for their future. While this will always be a moving target, we hope our current strategic plan moves us forward in this endeavor in positive ways for the coming years.

Mission

The Sociology Department is a student-centered, diverse, and inclusive learning community that engages in critical social inquiry extending knowledge to enrich individual and public life.

Vision

We are dedicated to the teaching, production, critical examination, diffusion and application of social knowledge in its many forms. We will prepare our students to critically analyze and theorize the empirical realities of our social world. We will foster a diverse and inclusive community of social inquiry, discourse, discovery, expression, and reflection.

Value Statement

The Sociology Department values:

  • Excellent teaching in the liberal arts tradition through active student-teacher engagement and achievement supported by appropriate class size and a high proportion of permanent faculty.
  • Intellectual inquiry and discourse among faculty and students.
  • The production of scholarship that engages and informs sociological areas of study.
  • Service to the Sociology Department, the college, university, our profession and the community.


Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

Continue to organize the Sociology Colloquium lecture series.

Baseline

We currently bring in about 3 speakers a year.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
Our metric was how many speakers we bring in annually for the Sociology colloquium. Our metric was to bring in three speakers a year. We have met and exceeded this goal for the 2016 year. We don't mark "Achieved" because we cannot guarantee funding for every year for this many speakers.

Objective 1.A.2

Finalize and relaunch revised Aging & Adult Life Minor o Hire a new faculty to coordinate the minor.

Baseline

The requirements for the minor have been revised. The new minor is currently awaiting approval by the UCC.

Progress

2016 Status
Not Yet Initiated
Approval for the Aging and Adult Life minor was delayed and it is still working its way through approval (although it is at the last steps). We are hopeful that we will be able to implement the revised minor in the Fall 2017 semester. As a result, this objective isn't yet initiated. Additionally, we were turned down last year in our request to hire a faculty member to teach the Sociology courses in this minor and who would also coordinate the minor. So this also leads our status to Not Yet Initiated.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

The Sociology Department seeks to create an inclusive learning environment that attracts and serves a diverse body of majors.

Baseline

Based on data analyzed in the department's 2014 Self Study, our majors are currently more diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, gender and first generation college students than the university as a whole.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
In evaluating the 15-16 data available for GVSU and for the Sociology department, we have continued to maintain a higher level of diversity with respect to sociology majors and minors race/ethnicity, gender and FTIAC status (when comparing university data to department data).

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 1.C.1

Promote student engagement in our local community by providing internship and/or community-based research and/or service learning opportunities each semester.

Baseline

Students do internships each semester, with the number of students varying by semester. Likewise, we have courses that sometimes engage in community-based research and/or service learning on a course-by-course, semester-by-semester basis.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
We had students participate in internships in the 2016 year. We did not offer any service learning courses.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.1

To create a new course in Sociology of the Environment to offer Sociology students a course in this growing area of focus and contribute to the Environmental Studies minor

Baseline

We do not offer such a course.

Progress

2016 Status
Not Yet Initiated
We did not receive this line so we were not able to hire for this position. As a result, we have not yet initiated this objective.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 1.E.1

Provide students with guidance for careers and graduate school through an annual workshop

Baseline

We currently provide guidance to our own advisees and hold an annual advising week with advising hours in our conference room.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
During the Winter 2016 semester we held an advising week March 14- March 18. We also held a graduate and employment workshop on March 30.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

Codify adjunct hiring policy to: Ensure adherence to dept. norms and learning goals; Ensure adoption of relevant Gen Ed learning objectives; Encourage use of FTLC.

Baseline

Currently the hiring policy is handled by the Department Chair, but no formal guidelines exist.

Progress

2016 Status
Minimal Progress
We have standardized hiring of new adjuncts (they all receive the same information, are informed of department and university expectations, receive Gen Ed handouts, etc). Policy, however, has not been created.

Objective 2.A.2

To drastically reduce/eliminate our reliance on adjuncts/non-permanent faculty (in accordance with CLAS & departmental values) by hiring 6 faculty members; 2 replacements & 4 new tenure lines to teach General Education survey courses (Social Problems and Introduction to Sociology) and courses in the areas of: Aging (and to coordinate the Aging & Adult Life minor), Environmental Sociology, Families in Society, Sociology of Health.

Baseline

Adjuncts taught 22 sections Fall 2015 & 20 sections Winter 2016 Overwhelmingly in Social Problems (17 of 19 sections in Fall; 11 of 23 in Winter) Families in Society (use of adjuncts: 2 of 2 in Fall; 3 of 6 in Winter) Healthcare (adjuncts taught 1 section in Fall & Winter)

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
We were able to hire Visitors which reduced our reliance on adjuncts. Adjuncts taught 11 sections of different courses for us FA 16. Visitors taught 12 sections.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

Ensure that all new employees participate in intercultural training and development.

Baseline

No such mandate currently exists.

Progress

2016 Status
Not Yet Initiated
Our new hire has a service release for this first year at GVSU. This objective cannot begin until next year when they are able to participate in such activities.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 2.D.1

To hire an environmental sociologist to expand the department's focus to a growing area of scholarly and policy inquiry of critical importance that will allow the department to offer a unique sociological contribution to the Environmental Studies Minor and the University Sustainability Initiative

Baseline

We have no such expertise

Progress

2016 Status
Not Yet Initiated
We did not receive this line so we were not able to hire for this position. As a result, we have not yet initiated this objective.

Objective 2.D.2

To hire a demographer to expand the department's focus to an important area of scholarly and policy inquiry of critical importance.

Baseline

We do not have a demographer

Progress

2016 Status
Not Yet Initiated
We did not receive the line to hire for this position. As a result, our status here is not yet initiated.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 3.A.1

Successfully implement the new department major and use it to recruit new majors.

Baseline

The new curriculum has been approved and will take effect in Fall 2016.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
This objective is ongoing. Our new curriculum began Fall 2016 semester.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 3.B.1

Increase number of Sociology faculty who receive inclusion training.

Baseline

We now have a couple

Progress

2016 Status
Minimal Progress
We are working on this. Inclusion and Equity revised the training and we will be discussing faculty participation in the program this semester.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 3.D.1

To meet demand for hybrid and online courses in sociology

Baseline

We have 7 faculty trained to teach hybrid or online courses. Thus far, we have offered Introduction to Sociology online. We are adding an additional online course in Summer 2016. During the 2016-17 academics year we will offer Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, and Sociology of Work & Employment online.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
We have met the expectations laid out in this objective by offering these courses. We are moving forward and offering more courses in addition to current offerings in the 2017 year.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 4.A.1

The Sociology department will continue and enhance students' opportunities for high impact learning experiences, including independent research, community-engagement through research and service learning, and internships.

Baseline

Currently, several faculty supervise independent research with students in the major, the McNair program, and the Honors College. Some classes require students to conduct community-based research, and students in the major have an opportunity to conduct internships.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
We had students participating in 2016 in internships and independent research and reading hours.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 4.B.1

To retain and expand the Department's student-run drama troupe called "Act on Racism," which uses the technique of liberation pedagogy developed by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire to allow students to use their own experiences as an educational starting point that encourages personal transformation. The troupe performs skits about racist incidents and inter-racial misunderstanding to educate audiences about subtle forms of racism.

Baseline

Currently, Prof. Stewart leads the troupe, which performs both on and off campus throughout the academic year.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
As is the case ease year, there is high interest in the work of this group. As a result, participation is solid and will grow over time. Reach and impact via the audience will do the same.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

To maintain and increase Sociology faculty participation in local, regional, national, and international professional associations.

Baseline

Currently, numerous Sociology faculty give presentations, organize sessions, hold office, and/or have run for elective office in the Michigan Sociological Association, North Central Sociological Association, Midwest Sociological Association, American Sociological Association, International Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems, Latin American Studies Association, Third World Studies Association, and other professional organizations. Two faculty edit the Michigan Sociological Review.

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
We have faculty that participated in organizations at all of these levels in 2016.

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