The Department of Sociology, located in Arts Block-IV on the Panjab University Campus was established in 1960. It has the distinction of being one of the leading centers of teaching and research in the northwest region. For its academic and research excellence, the University Grants Commission recognized it for Special Assistance Program (SAP) in 1977. The department also earned the honor of being the 'first' department from among the Social Science departments of Panjab University, Chandigarh to be selected by the UGC under the Assistance for Strengthening the Infrastructure of the Humanities & Social Sciences (ASIHSS) programme for a period of three years w.e.f. April 2004. More recently, the Department after successfully completing four phases of 'Special Assistance Programme' in March 2006, has been the "First" among the Sociology Departments of the country during the last three decades and the Social Science departments of Panjab University, Chandigarh to be upgraded as ''Centre for Advanced Studies' (CAS) by University Grants Commission, New Delhi. The department has earned this rare distinction in recognition of its concerted efforts in areas such as intellectual environment encompassing both teachers & students, reminiscent interaction between faculty & students, collaboration with other teaching departments, government and non-government organizations apart from research institutes, infrastructural development and futuristic vision.
The Department offers teaching and research programs for M.A., M. Phil. and Ph.D. levels. At the Master's level a wide spectrum of courses spread over a period of four semesters are offered in order to equip the students to pursue specialization in areas of their interest. Course curriculum has both academic as well as societal relevance and incorporates contemporary debates. Some of the courses are required courses aimed at providing strong theoretical and methodological base while others are open courses, which also include courses pertaining to thrust areas identified by the UGC like Family and Gender Studies, Development and Social Change, Urban and Population Studies, State and Society. Students are required to complete 16 courses (four courses each semester) equivalent to 64 credit hours to achieve the Master's degree. Every year a student of the department who obtains the highest marks in M.A. I is awarded Baba Prithvi Singh Azad scholarship worth Rs.300/- per month for ten months. For M.Phil. programme students are given extensive course work during two semesters and each student is to complete a dissertation. This course lays strong foundation for undertaking Ph.D. studies. At present more than 20 students from different parts of the country have been enrolled for the Ph.D. programme with the faculty members in the department. Foreign nationals under the exchange programme are also pursuing research for Doctoral Degree under the guidance of senior faculty members.
The Department of Sociology has a very long tradition for regularly holding Regional, National and International seminars, workshops and symposia. For the last 40 years continuously, the 'Wednesday Seminar'has been the hallmark of the Department bringing together scholars, professionals and social activists interested in sociologically relevant issues as initiators of the deliberations, which are widely attended by faculty and students from different departments apart from eminent specialists in various fields.
The faculty of the department, backed by strong work ethics, is regularly engaged in delivering extension and/or guest lectures in various Universities, apart from government and other research organizations. In addition to research projects of academic nature, the members have also been associated with monitoring and evaluating various policy related research projects from time to time funded by national and international agencies. The privilege of inviting eminent sociologists of the country as "Visiting Fellowst" has further proved to be instrumental in augmenting the intellectual environment of the department.
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