Social Sciences Department
Bettering the World Together.
If you are interested in sociology, psychology or criminal justice, you’re probably curious about how the world works and want to make it a better place. We want to help you do just that.
At Bluffton, professors will encourage you to think outside the box, ask the tough questions and then figure out a way to apply it to a job you’re interested in.
Do you want to make the world a better place? To repair the harm caused by crime? Consider a major or minor in criminal justice.
At Bluffton, criminal justice is an academically rigorous program developed to produce leaders in the academic field, corrections, law enforcement, mediation and community organizing who embrace the philosophy of restorative justice.
"The criminal justice program at Bluffton University has given me the opportunity to be taught and advised by former members of the criminal justice system with real life experience in various job fields of law enforcement. The program offers job-specific internship placement to further prepare students for their desired future."
- More about the criminal justice studies
Are you fascinated by figuring out what makes people tick? Then psychology might be the right major or minor for you.
As a psychology student at Bluffton, your classes are designed to provide solid preparation for either employment upon graduation or for you to move on to graduate studies.
Mikey Fimiani’s ultimate goal is to work in the FBI, but he’s also excited about the community relations aspect of policing and the momentum to bring positive change to law enforcement.
“With everything that’s happening in our world right now and with law enforcement, if we want a change, it starts with the new recruits,” said Fimiani. “My main goal for the future is to make a difference in every way possible.”
Social workers are compassionate, creative problem-solvers who are employed in human service settings: family and child welfare, juvenile services, mental health, corrections, hospitals, nursing homes and in programs for the elderly, developmentally disabled and substance addictions.
Now a psychology and social work double major, Ferguson completed her first field experience at the Juvenile Detention Center in Lima during the fall 2020 semester.
“Deanna [Barthlow-Potkanowicz, associate professor of psychology] convinced me to take Intro to Social Work,” said Ferguson. “I fell in love with it.”
Sociology is a social science combining scientific and humanistic perspectives in the study of society and its organizations. The discipline of sociology includes the exploration and analysis of family patterns and relationships, group and organizational relationships, race and ethnicity, social class, social movement, and contemporary social problems and issues.
Senior Heather McConnaughey recently presented her research "Why Reading Matters for Juvenile Offenders: The Relationship Between Literacy and Recidivism" at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association's annual meeting in Chicago.
“Sociology is looking at how people relate to other people. When you really dig deep, there's usually a reason why people commit the crimes they do," said McConnaughey. >>>Heather's story
The minor in political science introduces students to the systematic study of power in society. The minor builds on the state-centric models common in the field with a unique focus on individual and community-level analysis of structures, behaviors and outcomes. The core classes of the minor introduce students to the current state of the field. Further coursework, through electives, is flexible ranging from prescriptive coursework on policy and justice to descriptive coursework on systems and history. Broadly, students can focus on domestic, local or international levels of analysis with economic, policy, legislative/legal or historic emphases shaped by both the courses and research interests. Those interested in pursuing careers in political science are encouraged to pair the minor with a departmental honors project.
Supplement your major with a study of the experiences of women, including the achievements of women and the obstacles they have faced; contemporary issues that affect women’s lives; scholarly writings and creative works by women; and the theological, social, political and psychological methodologies employed to assess women’s lives.