About Sociology and Legal Studies

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Mission Statement

The University of Waterloo’s Department of Sociology and Legal Studies is a research-intensive department that offers diverse academic programs that examine many of the most pressing issues confronting societies today.  We offer undergraduate and graduate degrees (MA and PhD) in Sociology (since 1960) and an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Legal Studies (since 2009).  The department is committed to research and teaching excellence by providing an intellectually vibrant setting for sociological and socio-legal scholarship and by fostering a culture of academic and professional mentorship among students and faculty.  Our programs emphasize the department’s foundational strengths in social theory and research methods while faculty and student scholarship advances our knowledge in the department’s thematic areas: Crime, Law, and Security; Knowledge, Education, and Digital Culture; Migration, Borders, and Transnationalism; and Social Inequality and Public Policy. The results of our research and teaching help people to gain a deeper understanding of one’s place in society, to understand the complex social, political, economic, and cultural environments within which we live, and to value a diversity of ideas and perspectives.

We offer a full range of challenging and exciting undergraduate and graduate courses, and provide an inspiring environment for research students and researchers.

We are committed to ensuring that our undergraduate and graduate students receive an outstanding education, developing their sociological imagination and the research skills they will need for their future careers.

Over the years, our graduates have been successful in pursuing careers in the following areas:

  • government departments
  • policy and research institutes
  • universities
  • financial sector
  • health sector
  • legal professions
  • policing
  • non-profit organizations

Our faculty members place a high value on research and teaching that engages with fundamental and crucial aspects of social life. The research projects of the faculty and students address a wide array of sociological and socio-legal inquiry including issues such as:

  • crime, law, and security
  • knowledge, education, and digital culture
  • migration, borders, and transnationalism
  • social inequality and public policy

The Department of Sociology & Legal Studies respects and promotes equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in our research, teaching, and professional service within and beyond the university. This includes disrupting systemic forms of discrimination that marginalize individuals and communities, including, but not limited to those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or racialized, as 2SLGBTQIA+, as a person with a disability, and other individuals and communities who experience oppression based on their intersecting identities. To do so, we encourage the innovation of diverse theoretical perspectives on inequality, marginalization, and exclusion in our research to identify and redress these barriers. We are also committed to training the next generation of scholars to continue this work in our graduate and undergraduate programs through teaching that contests exclusionary structures of all forms.

The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. The Department of Sociology and Legal Studies acknowledges this as the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples.