Delta Blues Experiential Learning Trip

In this experiential course, "The Racial and Musical Legacy of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta," students explore the Southern roots of American music and its relationship to the Civil Rights Movement. During a five-day trip, students travel to significant historical locations in Memphis and the Mississippi delta.

Experiential Learning

The Sociology/Criminology Department sponsors innovative service learning, domestic study and short-term study abroad opportunities. 

For example, students have several opportunities to take short but focused trips to Latin America: 

  • El Salvador: Election Observation and Democratic Participation is a service learning course that incorporates participation in an international electoral observer mission.
  • Cuernavaca, Mexico – In partnership with the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development, Dominican students do service with the people of Cuernavaca.
  • Venezuela – Dominican students travel to this South American country to study health care delivery in indigenous communities.

Somewhat closer to home, students can also complete a five-day domestic study option to the home of blues music in The Racial and Musical Legacy of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. Students also attend workshops and prepare a culminating project as part of this course. 

In fact, students can add a service learning component to nearly any sociology or criminology course. This one-credit option requires advance instructor consent, community service and guided reflection. Service learning gives students the chance to add depth to their education while also benefiting the community. 

Honor Society

Since 1952, Dominican has been affiliated with Pi Gamma Mu, the international social science honor society, as the Illinois Kappa Chapter of this prestigious academic organization. 

The Sociology/Criminology department may invite students to join who meet the following requirements: 

  • Junior or senior status
  • In the upper 35 percent of their class
  • Have completed at least 20 semester hours in social sciences and
  • Maintained a GPA of B or better in social science coursework.

Membership includes a certificate, membership card, gold-plated key pin and subscriptions to the Society's journal and newsletter. New members are inducted each spring. 

According to the Pi Gamma Mu website, membership in Pi Gamma Mu is a valuable asset and may increase the Civil Service rating at which a person enters federal service.  Other employers also look for honor society status on resumes. 


“I encourage all students to start planning for an internship as soon as possible, because it will give them experience, the start of a professional network and even a letter of recommendation that will help build their future.” Michelle VanNatta, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminology . 

The department strongly encourages all sociology and criminology majors to complete at least one internship. Students who complete internships gain valuable work experience while earning academic credit. Internships in social service are conducted under close departmental supervision and can offer between two and eight course credits. 

Department majors have held internships at fine organizations, including: 

  • Chicago Department of Aging and Family Services
  • Chicago Public Defender’s Office
  • City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations
  • Cook County Circuit Court
  • Deerfield Youth and Social Services
  • DuPage County Housing Authority
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Mayor’s Office for Education (Chicago)
  • Social Security Administration
  • Various municipal police departments

Undergraduate Research

“It’s been so exciting to see our students take their independent work to such a high, even publishable level.” Michelle VanNatta, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminology 

Perhaps because of their emphasis on helping others and community involvement, sociology and criminology undergraduates have a long history of performing undergraduate research in their fields. 

Dominican has committed extensive resources to fostering undergraduate research in all fields through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Investigations.

One highlight is the URSCI Expo, a daylong event in which students from all departments present papers, poster sessions and panels relating to their independent research. Sociology and criminology students have traditionally been well-represented at Expo. 

Additionally, faculty members may invite top Dominican sociology and criminology students to attend or submit papers to the annual Midwest Sociological Society conference.