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Social Change Careers

Many sociology majors want to have a meaningful career that can involve helping to make the world a better place. A sociology major, especially when combined with the technical skills of a business major, is good preparation for a life as a social change agent. Keep in mind that if you have a social change goal in mind for a future career, you may find that you work in a variety of different types of organizations throughout your life. This goal can be combined with any of the different career pathways listed on our web site, and it frequently leads to jobs and careers in the nonprofit sector.

Can you give me an example of a career as a social change agent?
In the book How to Change the World, there are many examples of one type of social change agent, the social entrepreneur.  One of the best examples is Fábio Rosa, a Brazilian social change agent whose life goal is to bring electricity to the poor farmers in rural Brazil.  He remained faithful to this dream throughout his life, but the organizations that he worked in changed as new opportunities opened and closed. At different points in his life, he worked in the government, as a small businessperson, and as the founder of a nonprofit organization.  Slowly he made a difference in the lives of thousands of rural farmers.  He is a good example of a person who is not looking for a particular type of job but instead has a life mission and goal that may mean working in a variety of different organizational settings throughout one’s life.

What kind of skills do I need?
As in the case of Fábio Rosa, social change agents work in many different organizational settings throughout the course of their lives. So you need a broad skill set that will serve you well throughout your life.

The degree in sociology will provide you with the skills to understand and identify social problems, to analyze possible solutions that have been proposed, and to figure out which solutions are the best for the particular circumstances that you are in. It is the intellectual foundation for a career as a social change agent.

The minor in Business or in some other area with technical skills (computer science, statistics, etc.) will give you the technical skills to be employable in a wide range of settings.

If I’m interested in a social change agent, which sociology courses do you recommend?
Almost every sociology course is relevant, but a few are particularly relevant:

  • Courses on social movements, such as “Change and Social Movements Since the 1960s,” “Environmental Inequality and Justice,” “American Social Movements,” and “Self, Society, and Social Change”
  • Courses on social problems, such as “Racial Domination, Racial Progress,” “Climate Change and Society,” “Race, Gender, and Health”
  • Courses on innovation and organizations, such as “Creativity and Innovation in Society,” “Human Behavior in Organizations,” “Sociology of Green Jobs,” “Business, Civil Society, and the Environment”
  • Courses that give you analytical skills, such as “Statistics for Social Scientists,” “Sociological Perspectives, and “Introduction to Social Research”
  • Courses on law and politics, such as “Law and Society,” “Politics, State, and Society,” “Women and Public Policy in America”

If you are thinking about combining sociology with the business minor, see the template at the bottom of the page Careers in Business.