Officials overseeing Florida's public universities voted to eliminate sociology as a core course, a decision that has sparked controversy. The Board of Governors, following a similar move by the State Board of Education for state colleges, removed sociology as an option for fulfilling state graduation requirements. The subject will be replaced by an introductory course on American history prior to 1877.
The decision has faced criticism from professors, alumni, students, and others who argue that it reflects a lack of willingness to listen to communities and experts. The Board of Governors justifies the replacement by stating it provides an opportunity for students to take a factual history course, focusing on the forces that shaped America.
In addition to the sociology course removal, the board approved a rule preventing public spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and activities involving political or social activism at Florida's state universities. However, the restrictions won't apply to student-led organizations.
The initiative to downgrade sociology began in November when the state's education commissioner proposed removing it from the list of potential core courses. This move is part of a new state law prohibiting curriculum based on unproven, speculative, or exploratory content.
Critics argue that the decision stems from a misunderstanding of sociology as an illegitimate discipline driven by 'radical' and 'woke' ideology. The American Sociological Association expressed outrage at the board's vote, emphasizing sociology as a scientific study essential to civic literacy and various careers.
While the State Board was unanimous in its decision, the Board of Governors was more divided. Some members, including faculty representatives, opposed the removal, citing the potential disruption to students' schedules and the impact on various majors.
The decision has ignited a debate on the value of sociology, with some highlighting its transferable skills and demand in fields like social work. Supporters of the change argue that sociology will still be available as an option, though not as a core course, leaving the decision to provosts based on demand. Education officials also point out a decline in sociology majors in Florida over the past five years, citing the subject's theoretical nature as a contributing factor.