“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” Philippians 1:9.
Nina Heckler, sociology department chair, chose this verse to represent the sociology department so that students may fully understand the purpose of sociology.
Heckler wrote her own mission and goal on the sociology department pamphlet: “Sociologists make change happen. One person can make a difference. Maybe that one person is you.”
Her words are a message to students to remember the focus of sociology is outward service.
The sociology department announced three new concentrations available to students starting this semester: child life studies, family ministry and marriage and family. Each new concentration is part of the whole curriculum which focuses on globalization, urbanization and justice.
“All these programs have an interdisciplinary point so they get a broad perspective of how all of these programs come together as one to really help [students] find their career and what they are passionate about,” Heckler said. “I’ve made it so that it is not just one department – but students get a lot of exposure.”
Career choices that may come from any of these three new concentrations include child life specialists, ministry counselors (men’s or women’s ministry, youth ministry), or marriage and family counselors.
The child life program is described on the Union University website as a concentration which prepares students for working with children in health care situations. As a child life specialist, a student may work in hospitals or care facilities one on one with children to help them understand better what a doctor may not be able to fully communicate.
This concentration is the only one which requires students to gain certifications as Child Life Specialists through the Child Life Council.
As sociology or family studies majors, all students are required to have fulfilled an accredited internship or practicum.
“All sociology and family studies classes require students to have service learning hours and community service hours,” Heckler said.
The sociology department is also proud to announce that Phil Davignon, assistant professor of sociology, has joined the department this semester.
Davignon came to Union University from working in Dallas as a research analyst at the Federation of State Medical Boards. He received his undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College and received both his master’s and Ph.D from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Davignon said that his time at Union thus far has been nothing but a smooth and easy transition from Dallas.
“It’s been a smooth transition and I am so thankful to be on the faculty at Union,” Davignon said. “The community here is very warm and welcoming. I love being in the classroom and I am impressed by the students here. It is such a blessing to be at a Christ-centered university like Union.”
Davignon is currently teaching four sociology courses.
The sociology department provides all students with a list of pre-approved non-profit organizations in Jackson, Nashville and Memphis at which they may serve.
Heckler said there are many opportunities for students to get experience.
“One of the things I encourage all of my students to do is to get out in the community so they can either find their passion or develop their passion,” Heckler added. “I want them working with different populations and varying aspects of the job.”
Heckler said she wants students to follow their passions. She said she does not want them to be put in a box and only study one thing.
Heckler said students should “ultimately be Christ followers and help develop the Kingdom and go all over the world, not just here.”
Students who wish to know more about the Sociology and Family Studies department may visit http://www.uu.edu/dept/sociology/ for more information.