To the Editor:
Yale’s Department of Sociology greatly appreciates your reporting on our efforts to make the sociology major and sociology courses more attractive to Yale undergraduates.
With new introductory courses on “The Sociological Imagination,” “Contemporary American Society,” “Numbers and Society” (new in the fall of 2008 as a course in quantitative reasoning) as well as a new initiative on “New Haven Urban Ethnography,” we want to make students familiar with the power of sociological analysis and its relevance for careers in law, teaching and the policy arena.
By picking two outlier years, however, and thereby constructing a 75 percent decline in sociology course enrollment the News conveyed an entirely misleading impression to its readers.
In the last 10 years, the average yearly undergraduate enrollment was 874, in the current academic year enrollment is 878. Your reporting of a significant decline is based on a low number in the academic year 2006-’07 mostly due to relatively fewer courses offered.
I would also like to point out that the restructuring of the department started in 1998 and not, as you mention, in 2002.
Studying sociology is a great remedy to avoid such errors in evaluating empirical evidence!
Karl Ulrich Mayer
The writer is the chair of the Department of Sociology.