Castleton’s Sociology Program is recognized as the University’s first engaged program for its commitment to experiential study, service learning, civic engagement, community development, and sustainability.
Numerous opportunities to pursue both education and community involvement are available through the Sociology Program. Here are few examples of sociology students and faculty creating and changing the world for the better:
Each semester students in the Sociological Research Methods class solicit research ideas and topics from the College community. From the topics submitted between eight and 12 are chosen for research by the students. Each group of two conceptualizes and operationalizes the ideas for inclusion in a questionnaire which is administered face-to-face or over the phone to a randomly selected group of Castleton students. The data is analyzed and presented to the college community in poster and paper format. Past projects have dealt with topics such as student debt, themed housing, the First-Year Seminar Program, academic support for students and reading habits and library needs. Various offices and programs have benefitted and used the data from the projects to bring change to the campus.
As part of a service learning assignment students in the Community in American Society course proposed, designed and created an outdoor classroom between the Center for the Support and Study of Community and Leavenworth Hall. In their proposal to the College Cabinet students requested “An outdoor classroom that will provide a learning space which will enhance the college classroom experience for students and professors…a natural space to enrich the dynamics of the professor and student interactions and educational development.” Students also noted that “In addition to educational benefits, moving a class into the beautiful college campus would have environmental and economical benefits." Using the natural light outdoors to conduct a class would save electricity within the buildings. Using the environment as a learning space would be in keeping with the “think green” ethic of Castleton’s Green Campus Initiative.
Littering and Dumping clean-up, analysis and improvement: This project has taken place at the Buckner Preserve of the Nature Conservancy of Vermont. Our specific location is a 2.3 mile stretch of Galick Road which runs through the preserve in West Haven, VT. It is an unpaved road which is used by people visiting the preserve and the surrounding area. It is remote and had been used as an illegal dumping area for years.
Beginning in 2004 and continuing through the present, a First-Year Seminar group has taken on the task of picking up the litter along the road three times during the fall semester. In addition to cleaning up the road, all things picked up are inventoried and categorized in order to figure out the source and reason for the dumping. Each student researches a particular aspect of the problem or the solution and presents their findings at a semester-ending lunch with staff from the Nature Conservancy, local legislators and members of the law enforcement community in attendance.
The Castleton Community Bicycle Program was conceived and developed in the service learning-based class “Community in American Society” in 2009. The project sought to support Castleton’s commitment to a green campus community by promoting a healthy, alternative, and “eco-friendly” method of transportation. The students wrote that “A public bicycle program will not only protect the environment and serve our community, but would be attractive to prospective students and their parents, as well as others who may wish to utilize the facilities of the Castleton campus.” Today the Community Bicycle Program is situated alongside Castleton’s Public Safety Office on South Street and operates out of the Center for the Support and Study of Community.