Sociology, as part of the social sciences, has been an integral part of Bradley education since the 1920’s. The sociologist Wesley Schroder, who headed the department before the establishment of the College of Liberal Arts in the 1950s, taught the first sociology courses in Social Thought, Social Institutions, Social Welfare, and Family at Bradley. Sociology and political science were combined for 20 years under his leadership. They became two independent departments in 1948. In 1946 Dr. Romeo Garrett, the first African-American faculty member at Bradley, joined the sociology department. Dr. Garrett, who taught at Bradley for 29 years until his retirement, introduced the University’s first course on race relations. The entire Bradley community acknowledges his impact on the discipline, the department, the University and students. Dr. Garrett occupies a position of honor in the history of Bradley University (Source: “History of the Department of Sociology,” in Warren Dwyer, Liberal Arts and Sciences at Bradley 1897-1997. Henry, IL: M @ D Printing, 1998.) A street in Peoria and a building on campus are named after him. The Garrett Cultural Center, located at 824 N. Duryea, currently houses the University’s Office of Multicultural Student Services.
The Sociology Program at Bradley University seeks to challenge students’ taken-for-granted assumptions about the social world and to develop their understanding of the complex forces that shape the quality of human life at the local, national and global level. Students receive a solid foundation in social scientific inquiry, including both social theory and the principles of systematic empirical investigation. They are trained in the research, communication and analytical skills needed to prepare them for graduate school and for successful careers in a diverse range of fields. As social scientists, we study the human condition in order to improve it. We are therefore committed to examining both the cultural variation of human societies and the origins and consequences of social inequalities. We are dedicated to intellectual pluralism and critical analysis, and we endeavor to create a learning environment that encourages students to liberate themselves from prejudice and ignorance and become informed and socially engaged individuals.
Our mission, goals and program objectives are closely tied to the needs of Bradley University and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but they flow from a vision and intellectual tradition which has guided our department through the years. Because we are committed to teaching the liberal arts, we have a responsibility to teach both our majors and all Bradley students. Our courses focus on issues pertaining to gender, class, race and ethnicity, cultural diversity and minority relations on a local, national, and global scale. Given this, our classes are an integral part of the University’s General Education curriculum, the Asian studies program, women’s studies, criminal justice studies, and the social work program.
Students who take our courses are exposed to a wide range of theoretical perspectives on society and learn how to critically analyze the origins and consequences of pressing social issues. We encourage students to become informed and engaged individuals who are committed to making the world a better place. To this end, we require our students to systematically study patterns of social inequality and hierarchies of power. An understanding of such patterns is a crucial step toward creating a more just and equal society.