Social & Global Change

Social Change

Sara Ortega Roliz (BA, Sociology '03) has used her sociological imagination to create Mira, an online social benefit organization designed to make international aid a simple click away. Mira's mission is to provide educational opportunities to underserved and exploited children around the world by funding education-related projects. As the organization's founder, Sara's vision has been to empower children to reach their academic potential while inspiring the online community to reach its philanthropic potential. Mira recently funded the construction of a village learning center, plus a water tower to provide plumbing and enough water pressure for the classrooms, lavatories, hand-wash basins, kitchen, and laundry areas in the Kran Jake District in Cambodia. Congratulations Sara!

What's for Lunch

In Ivy Ken's Dean's Seminar on the Sociology of Food, students completed a semester-long service-learning project at a local elementary school where they spent lunchtime, recess, and aftercare time with the students. 



The Department of Sociology provides students with an opportunity to develop substantaive sociological knowledge in a variety of subjects, and to apply newfound skills in theory, quantitative and qualitative methods, service learning, and critical thinking to a wide range of social phenomena.

Undergraduate students can take a variety of courses including:

  • Deviant Behavior
  • Sociology of Sex and Gender
  • Urban Sociology
  • Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Program Planning and Development
  • Criminology
  • Techniques of Data Analysis
  • Sociology of Race and Ethnic Relations
  • Empowerment for Social Change
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Special Topics courses that focus on related issues

Graduate students gain a distinctive set of experiences, skills, and opportunities. The department has focused its graduate program on three substantive areas:

  • Criminology
  • Social Inequality
  • Urban Sociology

Faculty members are actively engaged with other units on campus and many organizations in Washington, D.C. and around the nation, addressing issues related to these topics. In 2006, the Department earned one of the highly-competitive Selective Excellence Initiatives awarded by the university for our three-year project "Urban Inequality: Costs, Consequences, and Policy Responses." The sound training provided by a talented and experienced faculty serves as excellent preparation for further graduate work or immediate employment in social research, community service, and related endeavors.

The Department of Sociology occupies Suite 409 in Phillips Hall, which is at the core of the GW campus and right across the street from Gelman Library. This space includes faculty offices, administrative and student services offices, and office space for graduate students and teaching and research assistants. A large University Computing Center is also located in Phillips Hall and offers access to computing services, including consultation on computing problems. Sociology classes are not concentrated entirely in Phillips Hall but spread into nearby buildings. This has been necessary because of the great number of students registered in Sociology, Human Services, and Criminal Justice classes each year.

The Department of Sociology is directly affiliated with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the Africana Studies Program, the Elliott School of International Affairs, the Department of Forensic Sciences and the University Honors Program.

Meet Our Professors: Gregory Squires

Professor Gregory Squires has published widely on racial inequality and urban development. In a recent HuffingtonPost blog, "Occupy Wall Street:  A New Wave of Fair Housing Activism?" written with Chester Hartman, Squires explores the implications of recent Occupy protest activities for fair housing advocacy, the subject of a conference they organized in 2012 at the Fair Housing Legal Support Center of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and co-sponsored by GW's Department of Sociology. Subsequently, their edited book, From Foreclosure to Fair Lending: Advocacy, Organizing, Occupy and the Pursuit of Equitable Access to Credit, was released in October 2013 (New Village Press). Squires has served as a consultant and expert witness for fair housing groups and civil rights organizations around the country including HUD, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.