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Opt for applied sociology if you want to help society

Does helping the disadvantaged sections of society, assisting in plans to combat natural disasters and enhancing existing government programmes and policies trigger any interest in you? If yes, then a course in applied sociology could be the right choice for you.

kolkata Updated: Jun 10, 2013 13:51 IST
Sanya Panwar
Sanya Panwar
Hindustan Times

The department of sociology at Jadavpur University (JU) offers a three-year programme in applied sociology — certificate course in the first year, diploma in the second and advanced diploma in the third. It’s a first-of-its-kind course in eastern India.

Approved and funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the course, which started in 2010, could prove beneficial for students looking to work with NGOs or research institutes, says Dalia Chakrabarti, head of the sociology department.

“The job of an applied sociologist is to work towards changing the current state of social life for the better. It’s about ‘doing’ sociology for clients and specialist audiences in a non-academic context,” says the head of department of sociology, JU.

Chakrabarti stresses the primary objective of applied sociology is to generate skills needed to build an efficient bridge between research, policy and practice.

“Unlike sociology honours, which is more theory-oriented, this course gives greater stress on practical experience. It teaches students how to apply classroom knowledge in practical life by using interaction and intervention skills,” says Chakrabarti.

“Unfortunately, academic courses in sociology ignore the need to develop, maintain and use human relationships for creating public opinion or initiating social reconstruction in a desired direction. But during this course, students intern with a range of institutions and get a direct exposure to social life beyond their own experience,” adds Chakrabarti.

Minimum eligibility for the one-year certificate course is enrollment in any undergraduate programme (not necessarily sociology) at any recognised university. It aims to develop research and relationship skills among the students and involves a mandatory internship and dissertation based on fieldwork.

After the successful completion of this course, students become eligible for the next level of the programme, a diploma. Students may join immediately in the second year or may join later after taking a break for studies or job (subject to availability of seats). At this level, the focus is on practical usage of sociological theories and policies.

Those who complete this level successfully are eligible for the advanced diploma course. This level focuses on governance, organisations, health and medicine, media, consumption, trends and fashion and tourism.

The course fee for each course is R6,000 and it has eight modules.

Students have the liberty to discontinue the course after the completion of the certificate or diploma stage. But, there is no provision for fresh admission to the second and third degree levels.

According to research scholar Amrita Dey, who also teaches the course, the skills imparted at the different levels will create competence among students. They become equipped to plan, execute and evaluate micro-interventions towards location of sources of problems in localities and in organisations. They will also be able to design solutions through continuous dialogues with the target people, and assessing the impact of intervention.

“Students might be hired by the clienteles who are engaged in activities involving people like those in government, corporate sector, non-governmental organisations or local communities. The course might also empower the students to engage in social activism,” she says.

“We do not formally offer placements for students. But few of our students get absorbed in various organisations where they do their internships,” she adds.

Classes are held thrice a week — Monday, Wednesday and Thursday — from 5 pm to 7 pm at the department of sociology, Jadavpur University. The last date of admission is June 14 and classes would start soon after. Seats are limited and students will be selected on the basis of a written test and interview.

First Published: Jun 10, 2013 12:53 IST