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Social Science

Program Highlights

One of the factors that make SUNY Cobleskill’s Social Studies program stand out are professors who have both strong research backgrounds and, in many cases, a long list of published writings in respected academic journals.

The program focuses on shaping well-informed and aware citizens by giving them a sound understanding of the social, civic, cultural and historical issues that permeate the world around them.

As a result, students emerge from the program with a host of highly marketable skills – including the abilities to problem-solve, manage complex projects, think critically and communicate clearly – that will serve them well in any number of careers, or qualify them to pursue a bachelor’s degree.


Degree Option

Associate in Arts (AA)


Question: what is the best way to get a firm intellectual grip on human nature and human existence at both their social and individual levels? Answer: through careful, thoughtful study of the social sciences.

The Social Science A.A. program at SUNY Cobleskill gives students a broad, solid foundation of knowledge that will prove relevant to any number of careers or, alternatively, to prepare them for transition into more advanced degree programs.

Through examination of subjects ranging from sociology, history, economics, psychology and political science, to African-American studies, Native-American studies, sustainability and anthropology, students are virtually guaranteed to reap information and insights that will remain with them for life.

Sample courses in the program include:

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Social Problems
  • Micro-Economics
  • Macro-Economics
  • Western Civilization
  • World Civilization
  • Latin American Society and Civilization
  • U.S. History
  • Native-American Studies
  • African-American Studies
  • Introduction to Sustainability
  • American Government
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology


Social Sciences


Physical Education

Upon completion of the two-year program, Graphic Design majors are prepared to either begin their career or into the four-year program. Graduates of the four-year program will have the background and skills necessary to succeed as design professionals in a variety of print and online venues. 

Students in SUNY Cobleskill's Social Sciences program have gone on to successful professional careers in such varied areas as:

  • Government
  • Teaching
  • Law
  • Market research
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Community Affairs
  • Management Consultation
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Economics and Finance

While hardly exhaustive, this list does serve to demonstrate just how broad, diverse and valuable our graduates' capabilities prove to be in the quest for rewarding and meaningful careers.

Mark Braun

Mark Braun, PhD
Professor - Social Science


Professor Mark Braun is a post-World War II American urban historian who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a Master’s degree in American History, and a Doctorate in Urban Studies. Braun’s publications include two books: Social Change and the Empowerment of the Pooras and The Neo-Eclectic Housing Era: 1971-1985. His longer essays have appeared in Urban Affairs Review; Suburban Sprawl: Culture, Ecology, and Theory; and The Small City and Regional Community. He has also published book reviews in several peer-reviewed periodicals. Currently, he is conducting research on environmentally friendly jobs in Upstate New York.

Rene M. Descartes, PhD
Professor - Social Science


Professor Rene M. Descartes teaches a range of courses in Anthropology, as well as the History of Western Civilization. His research and teaching interests include archaeological theory; the origin of the proto-state; pre-industrial agricultural systems, particularly with hydraulic applications; and early civilizations in Mesoamerica and Mesopotamia. His publications include Karl Wittfogel and the Nomothetic Revival in Anthropology; “Animal Husbandry in Ancient Greece,” in Ancient Greece; and “England’s Agricultural Revolution,” in The Seventeenth Century. Professor Descartes has a long-term interest in agriculture, and since 1977 he and his wife Marsha have been the owners and operators of Beaver Dam Farms, a 150-acre, registered Polled Hereford operation, raising forages and grain corn. He has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Buffalo, an MA in Anthropology from the University at Albany, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research. He also holds a Master’s of Library Science (archives) and an MA in History from the University at Albany.


Tom Hickey, PhD
Professor - Social Science


Professor Tom Hickey received his Ph.D. From Sam Houston State University and his J.D. From the University of Oregon School of Law. He is a nationally recognized authority on issues pertaining to the U.S. justice system and has authored five books and numerous articles in respected academic journals. He has also served on the faculties of the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Oregon.



Sal Rivera

Salvador Rivera, PhD
Professor - Social Sciences

Professor Salvador Rivera teaches History and Sociology. Born in Los Angeles, Professor Rivera received his Ph.D. in history from the State University of New York at Albany, where he specialized in diplomatic history with an emphasis on the post-1945 world and Latin America. His primary research interests are in the Economic Integration of Europe, Latin America, and the Cold War. He is the author of Latin American Unification: A History of Political and Economic Integration Efforts. Dr. Rivera also published the article “Jacob K. Javits and Latin American Economic Integration” in 2007. He is currently writing a text on Latin American History entitled The Fragmented Nation. Professor Rivera has conducted research on these topics utilizing documents from the CIA, the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Javits Special Collections at SUNY Stony Brook, the Frei Archives, books, articles, and oral interviews. Professor Rivera has also given numerous public talks on Latin American Economic Integration and has written numerous book reviews dealing with Latin American History. He has also written several articles on the immigration issue in the United States. In the field of Sociology Dr. Rivera’s main interest is in the urban social environment.



Christina Trees

Christina Trees
Associate Professor - Social Science


Associate Professor Christina Trees has been a member of the social science faculty, specializing in economics, for nearly 25 years. Educated at Drew University (in her native New Jersey) and at the University of Notre Dame, she brings a strong liberal-arts emphasis to the study of economics. Among the courses she teaches are Intro to Micro- and Macroeconomics, Comparative Economics, and the Economic History of U.S. Agriculture. She is particularly interested in labor economics and the political economy of race, class, and gender. Professor Trees places primary importance on building community in and out of the classroom, and as a Master Faculty Advisor, she has advised students in majors across the campus. She also advises the Otaku Nation Anime Club and has taught in Shanghai, China, with Landscape Design and Management faculty. Her off-campus life revolves around her family, including her three children. She is an avid runner and has completed both the New York City and Boston Marathons. She takes any opportunity to travel and currently dabbles in a variety of fiber arts. She also has been known to wax lyrical on the subject of tea.