2011-2013 Undergraduate Catalog

The Department of Sociology, Political Science, Native American Studies and Environmental Studies

Dr. Joy Crissey Honea, Chairperson
LA 802, (406) 657-2311 or 657-2119

Professor:  Eliason
Associate Professor:  Hardt, Honea
Assistant Professor:  Scroggins
Emeritus:  Floyd, Lin, Waltner

Native American Studies
Professor:  Sanders
Lecturer:  Rains
Instructor:  Charette
Emeritus:  Heidenreich

Political Science
Associate Professor:  Hood
Assistant Professor:  Bellinger, Pope

American Indian Outreach
Director:  Reno Charette

Environmental Studies
Associate Professor:  Gilbertz

Undergraduate Degrees and Majors

Bachelor of Arts
Majors:  Environmental Studies, Sociology

Bachelor of Science
Majors:  Criminal Justice, Political Science, Political Science Teaching Licensure Option, Sociology

Minors:  Criminal Justice, Environmental Studies, Native American Studies, Political Science (options:  General, Public Administration, Pre-Law), Sociology, Women’s Studies

Teaching Minors:  Political Science, Sociology

Pre-Professional Program:  Pre-Law

Licensure:  Social Science (Broadfield) Endorsement

Advising Information

Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester to confirm that their Plan of Study is accurate and complete.  If necessary, changes and updates should be made in order to ensure that program requirements can be completed in a timely manner.  Faculty advisors work with students to explore appropriate internships, cooperative education placements and/or experiential learning opportunities which will enhance the student’s academic program.  In addition, advisors provide assistance in selecting elective courses which support the student’s interests, career plans and Plan of Study.

Academic advising services for all freshmen Arts and Sciences majors are provided through the Advising Center on McMullen Hall first floor west.  Upon declaring a specific major, Arts and Science majors will be assigned to a faculty advisor in their department for upper-division advising.  Advising files for all upper-division students are maintained in the departmental office of the program in which the student is majoring.  Although advisors are available to assist students in designing their Plans of Study, students are ultimately responsible for meeting degree requirements. 

The Department of Sociology, Political Science, Native American Studies and Environmental Studies combines four scholarly disciplines, each with its separate faculty and academic programs.  The four-year program in Sociology leads to a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree, or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.  The four year program in Environmental Studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree.  The department offers minors in Political Science, Native American Studies, Sociology, and Environmental Studies.


Mission Statement
The sociology program at MSU Billings is dedicated to promoting the values of social responsibility, respect for diversity, and a commitment to lifelong learning.  Our sociology program takes a holistic approach to learning, an approach that directly links academic work with understanding of the structure of social institutions, changes in them, and their impacts on the lives of individuals. Our program also conveys insights into the dynamics of social processes, and the manners in which individuals both shape and are shaped by these processes.  Finally, the sociology program at MSU Billings imparts knowledge about the self as it relates to various social contexts.

Students who complete the sociology program at MSU Billings will be able to use the following tools to provide an understanding a variety of social situations.

  • Critical thinking
  • Introspective awareness of self in social contexts
  • Multi-cultural awareness
  • Inductive and deductive logical modeling
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods

The study of sociology at MSU Billings is based on a core of theory and method courses:  (1) how to understand social life as a sociologist (theory) and (2) how to observe social life and draw conclusions from what one sees (method).  Courses involving theory and method are required for every major.

In the interest of building a broad sociological foundation, each student is required to take at least two courses in the lower division core and at least one course from each of the five  areas in the program:  (1) General Sociology, (2) Family and Relationships, (3) Crime and Criminal Justice, (4) Social Inequalities, and (5) Health and Environments.  Based on this foundation, students are strongly encouraged to focus their academic interest on one of the four areas.  To provide opportunity for students to integrate their academic knowledge in sociology and the wider social world we live in, the department requires a minimum of 135 hours of work experience with an organization.

A degree in Sociology provides a solid foundation for a student to enter into either graduate study or occupation in government, industry or business.  For instance, with a concentration in program area two or three, a student can find job opportunities in human services or the criminal and/or juvenile justice related fields. There are two degree programs in Sociology.  A Bachelor of Arts degree program orients a student toward graduate study by putting an emphasis on the proficiency of a second language.  A Bachelor of Science degree program puts an emphasis on familiarity with Mathematics and Computer Science to prepare a student for entering the labor market right after graduation.  Nonetheless, the difference between the two degree programs is only a matter of emphasis, rather than the substance of the program itself.  Regardless of one’s special interest, one might wish to emphasize research methods and statistics.  Because of the growth of computer use, these two skills are cited as most valuable by sociology graduates employed in nonacademic jobs.

Extended major:  in lieu of a minor, students may choose the Sociology major extended option.  This option requires 15 additional credits from the list of Sociology courses.

Political Science

Mission Statement
Political Science is the study of politics, government, and public affairs.  It provides the student with knowledge and understanding of the theory, organization, functions, and processes of domestic and international systems and institutions of politics and government, including the role of individual and group relations.

Courses offered are oriented toward:

  • reparing the student for citizenship roles in community and national affairs and providing a coherent knowledge of political and government activities;
  • assisting the student to secure a broad liberal arts and sciences education;
  • providing undergraduate preparation for those students who propose to study at the graduate level;
  • offering general training for students who plan careers in government and public affairs;
  • preparing students for careers in secondary teaching;
  • providing a sound background for those students who intend to enroll in law and other professional schools;
  • providing a useful background for students who wish to work in management and staff positions in business and industry which have relationships with the public sector, including political journalism.

Native American Studies

Mission Statement
The Native American Studies program at MSU Billings is dedicated to providing outstanding courses in Native American Studies, support for all students, and working cooperatively with Tribal communities and organizations.  All Native American Studies programs incorporate traditional indigenous philosophies of maintaining balance in a holistic environment.

The Native American Studies Program has four primary goals:

  • to offer a comprehensive academic program in Native American Studies for both Native American and non-Native students;
  • to provide increased awareness of and appreciation for the rich cultural heritage, knowledge, and contributions of Native Americans in the United States;
  • to contribute actively to increased multicultural awareness and appreciation at MSU Billings and throughout the region; and
  • to cooperate with other MSU Billings programs in providing a supportive environment for Native American students.

Native American Studies began at Montana State University Billings in 1970 and has continued to develop in response to internal and external needs and provisions.  The Native American Studies staff supports other Native American related programs at MSU Billings including American Indian Outreach & Diversity Center and the Intertribal Indian Club.  The academic offerings in Native American Studies include classes which examine past and present Native American cultures as living, vital cultures; explores issues in Native American history, education, and the behavioral sciences; and identifies factors that contribute to the unique cultural and legal status of Native American people.  Special workshops and classes are held which are responsive to the contemporary needs and concerns of the Native American populations in Montana.  NASX courses provide a background for any career involving work with people from different cultures and especially with Native American communities.  MSU Billings actively supports, encourages, and instructs in MCA 20-1-501, commonly called Indian Education for All.  An academic minor of 21 credits is offered for the Arts and Sciences, Education, or Business student.

Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies program is among the newest and most innovative programs at Montana State University Billings.  Both students and faculty benefit from living in one of the most ecologically diverse and
environmentally spectacular regions of North America.  Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rockies, and the northern Great Plains are within a short drive from the MSU Billings campus.

The program is dedicated to balancing students’ understanding of environmental values and social dimensions, environmental sciences, and environmental policies.  As an interdisciplinary program, students take courses in environmental ethics, environmental history, environmental ecology, geography, environmental assessments, and geographic information systems.

Additionally, students have options such as advanced ecology, environmental law, Native Americans and the environment, business and the environment, environmental sociology, and art and the environment.  Students often select electives and Minor Fields of Study with career options in mind.  Moreover, they enhance their academic studies by fulfilling the internship requirement.  As student interns, they may work in local, state, and federal agencies, in private firms, in lab settings and/or in the field.

The faculty of the Environmental Studies program are drawn from existing academic programs and occasionally from the community of environmental professionals in the Billings area.  They are enthusiastic and committed to interdisciplinary methods and teaching approaches.  The faculty are involved in environmental research, they attend national meetings and colloquia, and they serve in various capacities within community organizations and agencies.  Their work outside the classroom enhances the curriculum and the learning objectives of the program.

The program prepares students to enter the work force in a variety of environmental occupations, and graduates from the program have proven to be successful in both the public and private sectors.  Others have been accepted into graduate programs where they earn Masters or professional degrees in areas such as planning and environmental law.

Mission Statement
The Environmental Studies program at MSU Billings provides a well-rounded interdisciplinary approach to understanding our natural systems and the role of humans in those systems.  The program is dedicated to community collaboration and experiential learning opportunities.

Students who complete the program will be able to:

  • Identify and explain key scientific principles involved in understanding environmental issues.
  • Identify and explain key human concerns involved in understanding environmental issues.
  • Identify and explain key policy and regulatory concerns involved in understanding environmental issues.

NEXT: Bachelor of Arts Degree Major in Sociology

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