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Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice

Sociology is the study of human society, social behavior and social change. 

The SUNY Potsdam sociology program provides students with skills in analysis, critical thinking and communication, enabling graduates to pursue a wide variety of careers or continue learning at the graduate level.

Throughout their coursework, sociology students analyze social institutions; study social problems such as domestic violence, social inequality, crime and poverty, and the environment; and examine the role that race, gender and social status play in our daily lives. The Department offers both a major and minor in Sociology.

Criminal Justice Studies is the study of the criminal justice system: the perpetrators, agencies and actors involved in the processing and definition of crime, and the social, political and economic phenomena impacting each. The SUNY Potsdam Criminal Justice Studies program provides a broad interdisciplinary, liberal arts orientation with course requirements in Philosophy, Politics and Sociology and the opportunity for students to elect to study courses in Anthropology, Chemistry and Psychology. The Department offers both a major and minor in Criminal Justice.

The Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice also offers a minor in Human Services, a minor in Social Justice and plays an important role in the Women's and Gender Studies and Environmental Studies programs.

An Opportunity to Serve

SUNY Potsdam’s Law Enforcement Training Institute is busy training the largest cohort in its history and catching attention from afar. In early November, a representative from the U.S. Capitol Police made the trip north to get eyes on the academy in action, and let its leadership know that Potsdam is top of mind when the agency goes afield in search of promising candidates to fill roles in Washington, D.C.

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“A Key to Freedom”

From inside the walls of the Riverview Correctional Facility, Brandon Rodriguez ’24 diligently completes the coursework for his SUNY Potsdam sociology degree. Part of the first cohort in the Potsdam at RCF program, he works as a teaching assistant for Dr. Nancy Lewis and leads study sessions for his fellow inmates—using education as a key to free his mind. After being released from prison earlier this year, he moved to Potsdam, exchanging his classroom behind bars, for a seat in Satterlee Hall.

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Raising Awareness

Chris Chandler ’13 has dedicated years to stopping human trafficking in the North Country before it gets started. Born in Pennsylvania, Chandler wanted a college experience away from home, and the road led to Potsdam. After graduation, he remained in the North Country and landed a job as a human trafficking liaison and senior caseworker with St. Lawrence County Safe Harbour, working at the grassroots to raise awareness of risks of human trafficking, and ensure that warning signs are properly addressed.

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Driven to Excellence

At just twenty years old, Victoria Sekyere ’23 has already published a book, started a non-profit organization, and is in the process of applying to law school as she wraps up her degree in criminal justice with a minor in pre-law at SUNY Potsdam.

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A Calling to Give Back

Jason Sanchez ’23 was raised by strong women. His mother, who has held jobs as an EMT and teacher, and his grandmother, who spent her career working in law enforcement, both have had a significant impact on his academic path at SUNY Potsdam within the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.

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The Path of Persistence

As both a full-time student and a full-time employee at SUNY Potsdam, Angella St. Denis ’21 has learned to make the most of every moment, spending her days studying and her nights working on campus—all in pursuit of her dreams.

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"Sociology has had a profound impact on the way I see things. I try very hard to see things from many perspectives now. I have connected with one issue most strongly, equality surrounding food. There is a niche for every person and through both my courses at SUNY Potsdam and my internship with GardenShare, I have found mine." 

Samantha Michaels Student

As both a full-time student and a full-time employee at SUNY Potsdam, Angella St. Denis ’21 has learned to make the most of every moment, spending her days studying and her nights working on campus—all in pursuit of her dreams.