Desantis’ war on the woke eliminates sociology from Florida school’s core curriculum

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a convocation at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday, April 14, 2023. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis has stripped sociology from public Florida university curricula as one of his latest attacks on “woke ideology.”

Even after immense criticism from professors in Florida, the state’s board of governors approved an amendment to replace Principles of Sociology with a course that covers American history on January 24, 2024.

Although students will still be able to take Sociology if they choose, it will no longer be a course that students must take to fulfill their core requirements. Many students start their college career without knowing what the field of sociology is all about. Requiring sociology as a core class gave students the opportunity to be exposed to the subject, often inspiring them to pursue a degree in it.

“Students take one of our courses, intro to sociology typically, and then decide to explore it further. “ said Jan Sokol-Katz, director of undergraduate studies for the University of Miami’s department of sociology and criminology.

Professors around the state worry about the implications this may have on Generation Z.

“In Sociology, you’re learning about the world we live in. So I think it will do more harm than good,” said Alexis Piquero, the former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics and a professor in the department of sociology and criminology at the University of Miami.

Throughout his term as governor, Desantis has taken actions such as limiting how elementary schools could talk about gender identity and signing legislation such as the “Stop WOKE Act,” which restricts how race is discussed in schools and workplaces.

“You’ve got to be willing to fight the woke, we’ve done that in Florida, and we proudly consider ourselves the state where woke goes to die,” Desantis said.

The American Sociological Association defines the study of sociology as “the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.” This has sparked confusion among students and educators about why the subject is considered to be contributing to “the woke.”

“Sociology is not just about race and gay rights. It’s about labor. It’s about transportation, it’s about structure. It’s about neighborhoods,” Piquero said.

“Desantis is trying to maintain the status quo. If people aren’t aware of inequality, how will they question it?” said Sokol-Katz.

Recent Florida legislation has forced sociology professors to reconsider their approach to the subject.

Before teaching at the University of Miami, Piquero taught at Florida State University and the University of Florida. He is still in contact with many of his former colleagues.

“They’re not going to compromise the principles. Yeah, I applaud them for that. I have to believe that the faculty at those schools are going to do what’s right,” said Piquero.

Professors around the state oppose Desantis’ actions to restrict education with both discrete and overt resistance. While some refuse to change their curriculum, others are going so far as to sue education officials.

Even with these efforts, recent changes in Florida’s education system will cause monumental changes throughout the state’s public universities. Many professors emphasize the importance of incorporating sociology courses into the core college curriculum.

“I think a classroom is precisely the forum where you want to have topics that make people uncomfortable. But this is exactly the place and the minute we stop exposing students to a wealth of topics. That’s bad in sociology” Piquero said.