Welcome to the School of Social Sciences!

Welcome to the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University. Our undergraduate and graduate offerings are united by the study of human society and social relationships, which is integral to a well-rounded, high-quality liberal arts education.  The School of Social Sciences is the largest school on campus, with 10 departments offering 11 bachelor’s degrees, 11 minors and 5 master’s degrees. 

The core values of the Sonoma State University Strategic Plan 2025 are infused into our curricular offerings, faculty scholarship and student experience.

Diversity and Social Justice
Our disciplines provide students with an understanding of human complexity in a global society.  As such, diversity, inclusion and social justice are part of the fabric of the social sciences. You will find this reflected in our curriculum, faculty scholarship and student engagement. For example, the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Department welcomes students into a newly revised major with a renewed focus on intersectional feminisms and engaged social justice scholarship. Psychology Professor Heather Smith was one of four North American professors invited to participate in the inaugural conference opening a center for tolerance research at the University of Kiel in Germany.  Psychology Professor Matthew Paolucci oversees the undergraduate Social Justice Research Lab. 

Sustainability and Environmental Inquiry
The destructive fires in Sonoma and surrounding counties of the past few years punctuate both our community's increasing vulnerability to the effects of climate change, and our need to mitigate against and adapt to these and related threats. Our newly formed Geography, Environment, and Planning(GEP)  Department is positioned to produce graduates trained to address these, and many other threats to the well-being of environments. That mission has been strengthened with the addition of two new faculty members. Professor Hernandez Ayala's work focuses upon extreme weather events in his classes and through his new student involved Climate Research Center. Professor Kevin Fang brings opportunities to study ways to make our urban environments more resilient both to the challenges posed by changing climates and by social injustice.  Professor Michelle Goman was recently awarded a Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) faculty incentive award “Landscape Dynamics: the intersection of Drought, Precipitation, and Fire.” Faculty from the Anthropology department participated in a range of fire response efforts: Professor Alexis Boutin aided the Coroner’s office with the identification and recovery of human remains; Professor Tom Whitley oversaw a student internship at SSU’s Anthropological Studies Center that assessed damage to archaeological sites in Sonoma and Napa counties; and Professor Margaret Purser’s Santa Rosa Neighborhood Heritage Mapping Project is capturing the stories of residents whose lives and communities were forever transformed.

Global Awareness and Citizenship
Our school enjoys deep connections to our community, and you will find many of our students engaging in service learning, internships and other forms of community action.  Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) boasts a vibrant internship program with 80 interns a year, a burgeoning mock trial team and has been doing work with pre-law students for a decade.  Likewise, Sociology students intern at a variety of sites, from on-campus organizations to community groups, to a myriad of business, non-profit, and local, county, and state organizations. Students in our nationally accredited Masters in Counseling program contribute approximately 28,000 of supervised counseling field experience in our community’s schools and mental health agencies.

Innovation and Interdisciplinarity
We are home to several interdisciplinary programs and centers. Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) is an interdisciplinary major that examines the experience and opportunities of women and men in relation to race, ethnicity, class and sexuality. In the Human Development (HD) Program students explore human growth and development using theories and concepts from multiple disciplines. The Ukiah Program offers an upper-division degree completion program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies.  Students in the Cultural Resources Management Master’s Program take courses in Anthropology and History, and can select electives from the Art History and Geography, Environment and Planning departments, and new interdisciplinary experiences are often being created. For example, Professors Eric Williams (CCJS) and David McCuan (Political Science) are planning an interdisciplinary class in Indonesia this summer. 

Get to Know Us
The School of Social Sciences Brown Bag Lecture Series is a great way to gain exposure to the diverse areas of study within social sciences. It is free and open to faculty, staff, students, and interested others. Bring your brown bag lunch and enjoy learning about current research by faculty in the School of Social Sciences on Tuesday’s at 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. in Stevenson 2011.


Maureen Buckley
Interim Dean, School of Social Sciences
(707) 664-3107
maureen.buckley@sonoma.edu