Student Organizations

Student organizations in the Department of Sociology at Western Michigan University impact the student experience by providing opportunities for leadership development, education and social interaction.

Group for the Study of Religion, Humanity, and Social Change

The Group for the Study of Religion and Social Change is based in the Department of Sociology and works in collaboration with scholars in the U.S. and abroad. Research focuses on the relationships between religion and social change across societies, cultures and religious traditions. The group seeks to understand how religion informs social transformations, and how, in turn, societal change impacts religion. This broadly comparative approach combines theoretical and empirical studies and utilizes a variety of methods, ranging from historical to cross-national analyses, and from ethnography and content analysis to survey research.

Collaborative work

The Group for the Study of Religion and Social Change emphasizes and cultivates collaboration among faculty and graduate students. Most of the the group's projects are collaborative in nature, involving both faculty and graduate students and resulting in co-authored publications, presentations or grant proposals. Furthermore, the group emphasizes collaborations with scholars in the U.S. and abroad. These include collaborations researchers and research centers at Boston University, Baylor University, University of Uppsala (Sweden), Church Research Institute (Finland), Russian State University for Humanities, University of Tartu (Estonia) and others.

Program development

The Group for the Study of Religion and Social Change contributes to graduate program developments such as offering five graduate courses in the sociology of religion. The sequence's seminars became an important forum for enthusiastic discussions of theoretical, methodological and substantive issues relevant to the group's collaborative research. Coordinated with the seminars was the Kercher Symposium lecture series that included leading authorities in comparative studies of religion. These developments resulted in the establishment of the sociology of religion as a permanent area of doctoral concentration and examination in the department.


In addition to the members working on collaborative and individual projects in the sociology of religion, several graduate students and faculty have participated in collective discussions and other activities of the group. We are especially thankful to Ellen Archey, Matthew Reid, Aleena Robinson, Rebecca Sevin and Dr. Ann Miles for their participation and contributions.

Graduate students

  • John Chew
  • Lori DeVries
  • Cleran Hollancid
  • Yevgeniya Leontyeva
  • Jennifer Marson
  • Melinda McCormick
  • Rachel L. Schroeder
  • Jessica Sullivan


  • David M. Barry, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
  • David Hartmann, WMU Department of Sociology
  • Vyacheslav Karpov, Director of Group for the Study of Religion and Social Change, WMU Department of Sociology
  • Elena Lisovskaya, WMU Department of Sociology
  • Jon Van Wieren, Grand Valley State University
  • Cynthia Vischer, WMU Department of Comparative Religion
  • Yuan-Kang Wang, WMU Department of Sociology

Sociology Graduate Student Association

The Sociology Graduate Student Association promotes the academic and professional socialization of its members.

Criminal Justice Student Association

The Criminal Justice Student Association forms a network among students who have an interest in the criminal justice field. If you are interested in being a part of the leadership team of this organization, contact Dr. Whitney Gunter.

Sociology honor society

Alpha Kappa Delta is an international sociology honor society recognizing academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students. WMU's chapter is open to those who have:

  • A 3.3 GPA overall, and a 3.0 GPA in all sociology courses.
  • Completed at least four courses in sociology.
  • Declared sociology a major and achieved a junior or higher status.


Membership applications are available in the Department of Sociology atrium and should be turned in to 3311 Sangren Hall.

  • Deadline: Applications may be turned in at any time but must be received by Jan. 31 in order to be eligible for the annual induction at the Department of Sociology's Annual Spring Honors Reception.
  • Enclose a $40 check or money order made payable to Western Michigan University.
  • Submit a student copy of your transcripts, which can be printed from GoWMU.

Criminal justice honor society

Alpha Phi Sigma is the national criminal justice honor society for the U.S recognizing academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students of criminal justice, as well as law students.

WMU's chapter, Epsilon Phi, is open to criminal justice majors and minors who:

  • Have completed at least four WMU criminal justice courses with a 3.2 course GPA.
  • Maintain a 3.2 GPA overall.


Submit the application to Ann Browning. Applications will be reviewed and forwarded to the Alpha Phi Sigma headquarters by a faculty member in the criminal justice program. Incomplete or deficient applications will be returned, along with the $50 payment, to the applicant.

  • Deadline: Jan. 31.
  • Complete a membership form, which may also be requested from the criminal justice office in the Department of Sociology.
  • Include a copy of your transcript from GoWMU and a $50 money order or cashier’s check made out to Alpha Phi Sigma. No personal checks or cash are accepted.
  • Successful applicants will be notified in writing and inducted during the annual Spring Honors Reception for the Department of Sociology in April.
  • If you do not hear from us, your application was approved and you will be initiated and receive your certificate at the Department of Sociology Spring Semester Honors Reception in April. You will be sent an invitation at a later date and should plan on attending.


Alpha Phi Sigma offers opportunities and benefits such as scholarships and job listings as well as merchandise such as graduation honor cords and sashes (expect five to six weeks for delivery).


Dr. Charles Crawford is the faculty advisor for Alpha Phi Sigma.

WMU Mock Trial

Join this student organization dedicated to teaching students how to prepare court cases and present them in court. If you're interested in law, public speaking, acting or you just like to argue, give Mock Trial a try.