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Community: Health, Environment and Place

Studies of community have been the core of sociology from the beginning of the discipline. Sociology faculty in Community at West Virginia University bring this tradition into the modern era by using innovative research methods and theories to study important sociological problems in urban, rural, and suburban places. Current faculty research includes studies of the causes and consequences of neighborhood change, community crime, disorder and social control, rural and urban culture, college community problems, the effects of welfare reform in economically disadvantaged communities, access to affordable housing, factors that affect population family and health outcomes within communities, environmental injustice, racial and ethnic groups in cities, and residents perceptions of neighborhood quality of life. Graduate student training will reflect these diverse faculty interests. Students will take a required course on space, place, and community along with specialized seminars on current issues affecting communities, such as community development, global communities, health in society, environmental sociology, urban sociology, rural sociology, environmental justice, group processes, rural criminology, community, crime, and disorder, race, crime, and community, and the sociology of conflict.

The area of community is broadly construed and considers the structure and function of communities within the larger society. Within this area, our doctoral program specifically focuses on health, the environment and place. We are examining communities as a context within which individuals are influenced. The objectives of this specialization are to develop knowledge in community sociology drawing on theories of urban and rural sociology, as well as spatial analyses of place (e.g., ecology and spatial demography). Students who study community sociology will be well-versed in theories and research methods associated with contextual patterns. Key methods on contextual analyses—both qualitative and quantitative—are also important components of this area.

The required course in the community specialization is SOCA 760 – Space, Place, and Community.

The elective courses in the community specialization may include: