Sociology department changes name

The UNA Department of Sociology officially changed its name to the Department of Sociology and Family Studies Sept. 14.

The change was made to better reflect the courses of study that the department offers, said Dr. Jerri Bullard, chair of the sociology department.

“Several years ago we implemented a family studies minor, in order to broaden the knowledge base of our students,” she said, “We realized that we wanted students to know that the family studies field is part of what we do.”

Opportunities for careers in family studies have increased in recent years; many students who acquire a background in family studies go on to find jobs in social service agencies, religious organizations and organizations involved with children, Bullard said.

Dr. Amber Paulk, assistant professor of sociology, said members of the department are excited about the expansion.

“I believe it fills a niche that was missing,” Paulk said.

Paulk said some sociology courses have been slightly restructured as part of the expansion. A new course, called Family Life Education, is also being offered.

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is one of many organizations that hires individuals with backgrounds in family studies; CASA serves as advocates for children involved in court cases, including child custody cases, Paulk said.

“They develop a relationship with the child,” she said. “They can make recommendations for that child and be that child’s voice in the court system.”

Paulk said students interested in family studies or related areas are welcome to consult her and other members of the department. Students can find more information at the Department of Sociology and Family Studies page at

The sociology department is also developing a program by which students can become Certified Family Life Educators. The National Council on Family Relations awards this certification. The program is currently in the approval process, Bullard said.

Stay with The Flor-Ala for future campus departmental updates and changes.