Social Sciences

Social Science Track 

 

Through a series of seminars and a carefully-supervised research projects in an area of personal interest, students explore how the social sciences share some intellectual heritage and how they can come together to address problems confronting the contemporary world. Track participants will come. Track participants will examine the perspectives of psychology, sociology, political science, and anthropology on matters including the family, work life, the legal system, religion, hatred, aggression, poverty, international conflict, and other topics.

Students in the Social Science Honors Track can expect a unique learning opportunity led by interdisciplinary teams of accomplished social scientists who are committed to their role as teachers. Students will read and discuss some of the finest thinkers in history and learn how to conduct meaningful social science research. We hope that many students in this track will be able to present their findings at scholarly conferences, and even to publish their work.  

 

The Track is Ideal For:

  • Students of all majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Students interested in the fields of sociology, psychology, political science, and anthropology
  • Students who wish to strengthen their applications to law school or graduate school in psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology, and associated fields

 

Curriculum:

*Track courses may be taken in any order with the permission of the track director.

Honors Seminar in Social Sciences I-Theory (SSH 2010)

As social scientists attempt to decipher human social behavior, they make various moral, theoretical, political, and methodological choices. The first two seminars in the program examine the intellectual origins of such choices. A special effort is made to identify where the various social science disciplines differ and where possibilities exist for interdisciplinary cooperation. Students in the first seminar explore these issues while reading and discussing classic works in psychology, sociology, political science, and anthropology.

Prerequisite: Admission to the Social Sciences Honors Track

Honors Seminar in Social Sciences II-Methodology (SSH 2020)

This seminar focuses on the various methodologies of social sciences. As in SSH 2010, students read important social scientific studies in the original. An effort is made to use such works, often drawn from scientific journals, as the basis for discussion of the methodological questions. The seminar covers qualitative as well as quantitative approaches.  

Prerequisite: Admission to the Social Science Honors Track

Honors Seminar in Social Sciences III-Application (SSH 3010)

Each semester, this seminar examines a different social dilemma from a variety of social science perspectives. Seminars may address: (1) Law and Justice, (2) International Conflict, (3) Family Matters, (4) Religion, or other topics.

Prerequisites: Admission to the Social Sciences Honors Track or Permission from the Program Director

*Students may repeat this course for credit, though subsequent enrollment would count as electives

Honors Thesis I (SSH 4010)

Students design and carry out research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis. We will embrace methodological diversity, requiring primarily that a project be feasible and fall within the domain of the social science broadly conceived. Faculty members are committed to helping students conduct successful research.

Prerequisites: SSH 2010, SSH 2020, and SSH 3010, or permission from the Program Director

Honors Thesis II (SSH 4020)

Students write and present an Honors Thesis.

Prerequisites: SSH 4010, or permission from the Program Director 

 

What projects have students completed in the past? 

Students select research topics in conjunction with the Program Director and other faculty members. Many topics in psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, and other social sciences can be appropriate. Some recent thesis projects have explored the role of profiling in airport security, the portrayal of Native Americans in film, the adoption if Asian children by non-Asian parents, the formation and consequence of group identity in African Americans, the stereotypical ways male and female feminists are viewed, the consequences of dating violence for college women, the implications of targeted advertising for young African Americans, and the childhood origins of  the dependent personality type in college women.

 

How do I enroll?

To enroll in the Social Science Honors Track, contact the Director, Dr. Neil Kressel, at (973) 720-3389 or at kresseln@wpunj.edu. You could also contact Jan Pinkston at (973) 720-3776 or at pinkstonj@wpunj.edu. A completed track application must also be submitted to the Honors College. 

 

About the Track Director:

Professor Neil Kressel holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University and a M.A. in comparative history from Brandeis University. A recipient of William Paterson’s award for excellence in research and scholarship and – recently – a Visiting Fellow at Yale University, his books include: Bad Faith: The Danger of Religious Extremism (Prometheus, 2007), Mass Hate: The Global Rise of Genocide and Terror (Plenum, 1996; rev. ed., Perseus/ Westview Press/Basic Books, 2002); Stack and Sway: The New Science of Jury Consulting (Perseus/ Westview Press/Basic Books, 2002; paperback, 2004), and Political Psychology (Paragon House, 1993). He very much enjoys supervising undergraduate student theses.