History & Contemporary Society

100% of our students are placed in internships.


    Applied Politics: Students don’t just read about the political process – they participate in it through internships and other opportunities to network and dialogue with key political constituents. Learn more about the program.

    Criminal Justice: There are many opportunities for students focusing on this track. Imagine an internship with the U.S. Marshals Service or the FBI.

    History: A history degree prepares you for a career in journalism, historic preservation, foreign service, library science, grant writer, urban development and more.

    Humanities: A 30-hour program where you choose electives from Literature, Philosophy, History, Languages and Fine Art. Learn more about this program.

    Social Studies Education: Core concentrations are in government and citizenship or historical perspectives.

    Sociology: Prepare for a career in juvenile probation, adoption, geriatrics, social ministries, missions, and more. Popular track: Family studies.

Jobs & Internships


Possible careers in this area include:

Law Enforcement, Education, Public Administration, Law, Business, Journalism, Casework, Victim Advocacy,

Social Work, Fundraising, Counseling, Volunteer Coordinator, Politics


community internships

Sociology internships in South Bend/Mishawaka:

Family and Children's Center

Life Center

The Language Company

Keys Counseling

Transformation Ministries

Bethel College

University of Notre Dame

Monroe Circle

One World Center

John Young Junior High


About one-third of sociology majors will go on to get a Master's in Social Work.



Experienced Faculty: Beyond the classroom

Thomas J. La Fountain, J.D., department chair, was a deputy prosecutor for St. Joseph County, Ind., in the Major Crimes Unit.

Robert Daniels, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, has research interests in the areas of sociology of idols and criminology.

Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D., professor of history, recently completed a book on the history of Bethel College. He often leads Task Force teams to Alaska.

John Haas, Ph.D., associate professor of history, researches and writes about the interaction between religious beliefs and values, and politics.

David Schmidt, Ph.D., M.Div., associate professor of history, created the Applied Politics major.


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Staff & Faculty

Prior to coming to Bethel, Thomas J. La Fountain was a deputy prosecutor for St. Joseph County Indiana. He worked in the Major Crimes Unit prosecuting felony cases ranging from thefts to murders. Later, he was part of the Special Victim’s Unit, handling domestic violence and child abuse cases. He was also a public defender and had his own private practice where he concentrated on criminal law.

He has a B.A. degree in political science (University of Michigan), a Juris Doctorate (Valparaiso School of Law) and is currently licensed to practice law in the state of Indiana, and the Federal District Courts for both the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana.

Sociologist Robert Daniels received his Ph.D. from the University of Akron (Ohio) in 1991. His dissertation research was entitled “Attitudes toward Abortion, Attitude Strength, and Political Behavior.” Prior to doctoral studies, he earned his M.A. in sociology from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and his A.B. in psychology and business administration from Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.

With many years of teaching experience, he came to Bethel College from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla. He also pioneered sociology into a thriving program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. His research interests include the integration of faith and learning, the sociology of idols and criminology.

Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D., was born in a minister's home on the prairies of South Dakota. He has a baccalaureate degree from McPherson College (1972), a Master of Arts degree at Kansas University (1976) and a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska (1985).

Engbrecht has been in ministry for 25 years as a Youth for Christ staff worker, youth pastor, senior pastor, Bible college professor and served as senior vice president at Bethel College. He has taught and coached in public high schools. He is a frequent speaker in camps, local churches, conferences, seminars and on college campuses. His primary emphasis is spiritual renewal.

John Haas earned his B.A. at Temple University in Philadelphia, with a double major in history and philosophy, graduating summa cum laude. He also earned an M.Div. from Reformed Episcopal Seminary and the Th.M. in church history from Princeton Theological Seminary. His Ph.D. in history was granted by the University of Notre Dame.

Haas teaches courses in American history, foreign relations, religious history, and historical theory and methodology. He has also taught classes on American government, social thought, and social theory. His interests gravitate towards cultural, intellectual and political history, and his own research and writing currently explores the interaction between religious beliefs and values and politics, particularly in the Civil War era.

David Schmidt received his B.A. from George Fox College in Newburg, Ore., and a master of divinity from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. He was awarded a Ph.D. in history and religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1998, after completing his dissertation entitled, “ “Till Christ Jesus Be Exalted: Quaker Political Pamphlets During the Restoration of the Rump Parliament.”

Prior to teaching at Bethel College, Schmidt worked and taught at UCSB, Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., and Westmount College in California.