Social and Political Systems

Sociology and Political Science

The Major in Sociology and Political Science at Pine Manor College integrates sociology and political science into a single program of study. It has a central set of courses that emphasize understanding social and political systems from the neighborhood to the world. We see the place in all communities for activism and leadership. Core courses provide both foundational learning and common experiences integrating and applying learning in the major. SPS majors complete one of four tracks, through which they integrate and define what the major means for them: Politics and Policy; Criminal Justice; Sociology; or International Development. Program courses reinforce the broad general educational objectives of the College by consciously integrating teaching strategies that support achievement of the Core Competencies of the Pine Manor College education.

SPS graduates are prepared for entry into a variety of fields, including law enforcement and other aspects of the criminal justice system, human services, politics and community organizing, or work in international business and development. Recent graduates have completed law school, are working as victim advocates in regional offices of the attorney general, are working in communities to reduce youth violence, and are providing counseling in prisons.

Learning Outcomes of the SPS Program

Pine Manor Graduates with a major in SPS will:

  • Be knowledgeable about important aspects of society and politics, such as social problems, social and political structures (including government and institutions), sources of conflict between and within societies, and the nature of globalization
  • Have a sense of their personal capacity to be agents of social action and social change
  • Be able to design and undertake social science research
  • Be able to write effectively in the language of social science
  • Have the ability to interpret and evaluate quantitative information, both informally in their lives and as a social scientist
  • Be able to think critically and theoretically about the social and political environment in which we live – to be “practical skeptics”

Program Courses

All students in the major take a cluster of 6 courses, which provide a common experience in foundational concepts, the skills of undertaking social science research and formative capstone experiences.

Each student in the major selects a track to focus his or her study – Criminal Justice; Politics and Policy; Sociology; International Development. Each track has 3-4 required courses, and 2-3 electives. Within each track, at least two courses must be at the 300-level.


For current information on College policies, organization, curriculum and academic courses, please see the Academic Catalog.


Program Faculty


  • Cynthia Miller
  • Kelly-Anne DeFao
  • Christine Samuel


William B. Vogele
Professor of Political Science and Program Coordinator
Tel: 617-731-7610

Program Courses

Common Courses

Two of these 3 foundation courses:

  • PS 111, American Government
  • PS 125, Globalization
  • SO 101, Introduction to Sociology
  • SPS 381 Methods of Social Research
  • SPS 382 Project Design for Social Research
  • SPS 490 Senior Seminar
  • SPS 495 Senior Internship


Criminal Justice

Required in the track in Criminal Justice

  • PS 241/341 American Legal System
  • PY 250/350 Forensic Psychology
  • SO 103 Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • SPS 220 Local Action - Global Change

Electives (2)

  • PS 248 Family Law and Children’s Justice
  • PS/WS 245 Women and the Law
  • PS/CO 257/367 Media, Law and Justice
  • PY 345 Psychology of the Family
  • SO 201 Social Problems
  • SO 216 Making Morality: Deviance
  • SO 252 Crime and Delinquency
  • SO 291/391 Sociological Theory
  • SO 310 Family in Society

Politics and Policy

Required in the track in Politics and Policy

  • PS 241/341 The American Legal System
  • SPS 211 Topics in Public Policy

Electives (3)

  • CHC 200 Healthcare Policy
  • IDS 141 Law Literature and Popular Culture
  • PS 105 Democracy & Democratization
  • PS 211 American Foreign Policy
  • PS 231 Women in Politics
  • PS 248 Family Law and Children’s Justice
  • PS/CO 257/367 Media, Law and Justice
  • PS 313 Campaigns and Elections
  • PS/WS 245 Women and the Law
  • SPS 305 Social Movements


Required in the track in Sociology

  • AN 101 Cultural Anthropology
  • SO 216 Making Morality: The Social Construction of Conformity and Deviance
  • SO 250 The Nature of Prejudice and Discrimination
  • SPS 220 Local Action Global Change

Electives (2)

  • AN 215/315 Making Monsters
  • PY 345 Psychology of the Family
  • SO 291/391 Sociological Theory
  • SO 310 Family in Society
  • SO 320 Health, Medicine and Society
  • SO 330 Power and Privilege
  • SPS 305 Social Movements

International Development

Required in the track in International Development

  • PS 201 Comparative Government
  • PS 232 The United Nations
  • PS 315 International Political Economy

Electives (3)

  • PS 105 Democracy & Democratization*
  • PS 211 American Foreign Policy
  • PS 310 International Organizations
  • SPS 150 Peace and Conflict Resolution
Sociology and Political Science Course Descriptions
Anthropology Course Descriptions
Community Health Course Descriptions
Interdisciplinary Course Descriptions
Political Science Course Descriptions
Sociology Course Descriptions