Development Sociology

2014-15 Tuition

$20,800

Application deadlines

Fall, Jan. 15; no spring admission

Requirements summary

Degrees

  • M.S./Ph.D.
  • Ph.D.

Subjects

  • Development Sociology (M.S./Ph.D., Ph.D.)

Major concentrations

  • population and development
  • rural and environmental sociology
  • state, economy, and society

Minor concentrations

  • development sociology
  • methods of social research

The Ph.D. program emphasizes community, regional, and state organizations, as well as the world system and development processes in these contexts. The program offers preparation for research, for the application of sociology in public-service work, for development work in the United States and other countries, and for college teaching in sociology, rural sociology, and related fields.

For the Ph.D. degree, students are expected to demonstrate (1) a thorough knowledge of social theory, with special emphasis on theories in their major concentration, (2) knowledge of previous and current research pertinent to the concentration, and (3) knowledge of multiple research methods, with special emphasis on research design, data collection, and analytical techniques relevant to study in the concentration.

Most students are admitted into the M.S./Ph.D. program, unless they have submitted a previous Master's thesis for approval by the department. Although the field awards an M.S. degree, it is expected that students earning the M.S. degree will pursue the Ph.D. degree. The M.S. degree offer a thesis or a papers-based option.

Research and study opportunities
Faculty in the field rely on a wide range of domestic and international funding to support research and graduate students. Some field members use New York State Agricultural Experiment Station funding to support studies of sustainable agricultural practices; small-town growth and decline; employment trends in non-metropolitan areas; the social organization of agriculture; multi-county and regional development; environmental problems; and the social impact of advanced agricultural techniques.

Research abroad includes studies of small-farmer agriculture in the context of globalization, processes of village and regional development, political ecology, and social demography. Students and faculty members are actively conducting research in South America, Latin America, China, Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Many of these studies deal with the relationship of agricultural production to social organization, the conditions of growth (and marginalization) for communities and regions, and the relation of demographic trends to all of those.

Members of the field also participate in International Agriculture programs, in the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and in the area studies programs for Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Several of those programs have supported dissertation research overseas. The department is also home to the Polson Institute for Global Development, which funds assorted working group research initiatives in the U.S. and abroad.

Although most doctoral dissertations are based on field-collected data, the field and the university have rich secondary-data resources for the study of New York State and the United States, located in the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER) and the various libraries on campus.

Application
Applicants are required to submit GRE general test scores. Completion of a master's degree in sociology or a closely related field at an institution of recognized standing is prerequisite to acceptance in the Ph.D. program. International students who are offered admission must provide evidence of adequate financial support for the duration of study here.

Alaka Basu -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: population studies; reproductive health and family planning; gender development; child health and mortality; culture and demographic behavior
David Brown -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: population and development; community sociology; applied sociology
Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; state, economy, and society; Research interests: population and development; sociology of education; demography of inequality and social change
Rochelle (Shelley) Feldman -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: feminist epistemology and methods; political sociology; gender relations; historical methods; political economy; postcolonial theory
Joe Francis -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; methods of social research; Research interests: geographic information systems; research methods; statistics; local economic development; food systems
Elias Friedman -- Concentrations: state, economy, and society; Research interests: Social movements, globalization, development, political sociology, work, and theory
Charles Geisler -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; Research interests: environmental sociology; property theory; political sociology; social ecology of welfare and terrorism
Angela Gonzales -- Concentrations: development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: American Indian ethnicity and identity; nationalism and tribal sovereignty; comparative race and ethnic relations in the United States
Douglas Gurak -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: population and development; migration; health and mortality; ethnic stratification
Matthew Hall -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: demography, immigration, segregation, housing, and racial/ethnic inequality
Thomas Hirschl -- Concentrations: development sociology; methods of social research; population and development; state, economy, and society; Research interests: social stratification; research methods and statistics; state and local demography
Lori Leonard -- Concentrations: state, economy, and society; Research interests: Lori Leonard has a background in public health, and her work focuses on issues in medical sociology, gender studies, and the anthropology of policy. She is interested in the ways policies, planned improvement projects, changes in the natural world, and human responses to these events shape social and cultural life
Daniel Lichter -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; population and development; Research interests: welfare incentives on the family; assortative mating; children's changing living arrangements; poverty; new destinations of immigrants to America
Fouad Makki -- Concentrations: development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: sociology of development; classical and contemporary social theory; international political economy; historical sociology of modernity
Philip McMichael -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: political sociology; sociology of development; comparative-historical methods; international political economy
Max Pfeffer -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; population and development; state, economy, and society; Research interests: environmental sociology; rural development; sociology of labor markets; ethnicity and immigration
Sharon Sassler -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: social demography; union formation (marriage, cohabitation); immigrant adaptation; racial and ethnic differentiation; young adult transitions
John Sipple -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; population and development; Research interests: sociology of education, rural studies, inequality studies
Jeffery Sobal -- Concentrations: development sociology; population and development; Research interests: sociology of food, nutrition, and body weight; food systems
Richard Stedman -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; Research interests: linkages between social and ecological systems; natural resource and community interactions; natural resources; environmental sociology
Mildred Warner -- Concentrations: development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: community development, economic development, state and local government policy
Lindy Williams -- Concentrations: development sociology; methods of social research; population and development; Research interests: family sociology; population and development in Southeast Asia; gender; life-course; research methods
Steven Wolf -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: environmental and natural resource sociology; environmental governance; multifunctional agricultural and forest development; institutional analysis of innovation
Wendy Wolford -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; state, economy, and society; Research interests: political economy of development; social and economic geography; political ecology; land tenure; agrarian studies

Graduate School Professors (emeritus)

Rachel Bezner Kerr -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; Research interests:
Gilbert Gillespie -- Concentrations: rural and environmental sociology; development sociology; Research interests: rural and environmental sociology; community and regional sociology; sociology of agriculture and food systems

Students in the field of Development Sociology engage in theoretical and applied research, teaching, and outreach on the causes, dynamics, and consequences of social, cultural, political and economic change.
The program offers preparation for academic careers in Sociology, Rural Sociology, and related fields, and for careers in applied Sociology, including development work in the United States and other countries.
For the Ph.D. degree, students are expected to demonstrate (1) a thorough knowledge of social theory, with special emphasis on theories in their academic concentrations, (2) comprehensive knowledge of the body of work that is pertinent to their concentrations, and (3) knowledge of multiple research methods, with special emphasis on research design, data collection, and analytical techniques used in the discipline.

Although the field awards an M.S. degree, it is expected that students earning the M.S. degree will pursue the Ph.D. degree. Therefore, students who do not already have a Master's in Sociology are admitted into the M.S./PhD. program.

Research and study opportunities

Faculty in the field rely on a wide range of domestic and international funding to support research and graduate students. Some field members use New York State Agricultural Experiment Station funding to support studies of sustainable agricultural practices; small-town growth and decline; employment trends in non-metropolitan areas; the social organization of agriculture; multi-county and regional development; environmental problems; and the social impact of advanced agricultural techniques.

Research abroad includes studies of small-farmer agriculture in the context of globalization, processes of village and regional development, political ecology, and social demography. Students and faculty members are actively conducting research in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Many of these studies deal with the relationship of agricultural production to social organization, the conditions of growth (and marginalization) for communities and regions, and the importance of demographic processes in influencing and responding to economic opportunities and constraints.

Members of the field also participate in International Agriculture programs, in the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and in the area studies programs for Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Several of those programs have supported graduate students' research overseas. The department is also home to the Polson Institute for Global Development, which funds assorted working group research initiatives in the U.S. and abroad.

Although most doctoral dissertations are based on field-collected data, rich secondary-data resources are also available for the study of New York State and the United States, as well as a large number of other countries in the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER) and the various libraries on campus.
 
Learning Goals

By the time you graduate from our program, you should be able to analyze the world as a sociologist. This means that you will be able to synthesize sociological knowledge and apply it to today’s problems. You should be able to think independently and generate research that makes a substantial contribution to the field.  We offer courses that foster foundational skills in both theory and method, and we provide courses that teach specialized skills in sub-areas that are central to Development Sociology.  You should be able to use what you learn here to enter a career in academia, in the public or private sector, or in development practice.
Students in our field must be able to convey the results of their research in writing and through their spoken abilities. You will be given ample opportunity to prepare your research for presentation in coursework and eventually at conferences. It will be important to organize material for a clear and concise presentation and to adhere to time guidelines. When you are ready to present your work at professional meetings, we will encourage an in-house public presentation first, so that you can receive constructive feedback on the substance or your work and your presentation style.
It is critical that Sociologists be aware of and able to adhere to ethical guidelines regarding the conduct and dissemination of their research, whether the research is an individual project or a collaborative one. Students in our program must take part in Institutional Review Board (IRB) training and any research involving human subjects must receive IRB approval before it is begun.
 
Proficiencies

A candidate for a Ph.D. in Development Sociology is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in theory and method and to be able to make original and significant contributions to the field upon completion of her/his degree. 
Proficiencies that are required to be demonstrated by the candidate:

Make an original and substantial contribution to the discipline through the following:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the field of knowledge in our discipline
  • Be able to identify new research opportunities 
  • Be able to identify an important research question
  • Think critically and creatively
  • Synthesize knowledge and apply in important innovative research 

Acquire and communicate advanced research skills

  • Synthesize existing knowledge
  • Master existing quantitative and qualitative research methods 
  • Master oral and written communication skills for conveying information clearly and effectively

A commitment to advancing scholarship

  • Gain and maintain familiarity with core knowledge and advances in the field