The discipline of sociology has come a long way at East China Normal University. Since 1913, the scholars of the University of Shanghai and the Great China University had built a strong basis for the development of sociology with their pioneering contributions. Through a century of development, the discipline of sociology now boasts a solid foundation and deep-rooted academic tradition started and built by great sociologists including Wu Zelin, XieLiuyi, Yan Xinzhe, Hu Huanyong and Luo Yonglin.

In 1979 when the mainland China resumed sociology studies, ECNU, headed by Prof. Yan Xinzhe who is a counselor of Chinese Sociological Association, took the lead in setting up the Teaching and Research Office of Sociology. In 1981, ECNU was among the first in China to set up the postgraduate program in Sociology, and then launched postgraduate programs successively in Population Research, Folklore, Anthropology and Social Work (including full-time and part-time), and a doctoral program in Population Research. The School now has a doctoral program in the primary discipline of sociology consisting of five doctoral programs in Sociology, Population Research, Folklore, Anthropology and Social Work and Social Policy, and a post-doctoral research station for the primary discipline of sociology. We welcome visiting scholars at home and abroad, post-doctoral researchers, and international postgraduate and doctoral students. At present, the School offers duel degree Ph.D programs in cooperation with New York University and EcoleNormaleSupérieure, Paris.

At the end of 2009, the School of Social Development was founded based on the former Department of Sociology and Population Research Institute and by bringing together our academic strengths in folklore and anthropology. It is made up of five basic divisions, namely Department of Sociology, Department of Social Work, Population Research Institute, Institute of Folklore and Institute of Anthropology, with all relative specialties well developed and managed. The School of Social Development is the main force supporting the Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, a key research base of humanities and social science of the Ministry of Education. The School, in close partnership with New York University Silver School of Social Work, launched NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at New York University Shanghai. Shanghai Innovation Research Base in Social Science (focused on population structure and demographic trends in Shanghai) under the School is a provincial and ministerial research base approved by the Ministry of Education. There are several university-level academic institutes affiliated to the School, including the Centre for Sociological Research, Social Investigation Center, ECNU Center for Youth and Social Work Studies, ECNU-IMNU Folklore•Society•Culture Joint Research Center, Religion and Society Research Center, Center for Community Culture Studies and Center for Studies of International Migration and Overseas Chinese Policies. Each year we send our faculty members to prestigious universities abroad for study and visit every year. We also have strengthened exchanges and cooperation with famous universities in America, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Nearly 75% of teachers in School of Social Development of East China Normal University have senior titles. In recent years, as we have boosted efforts to attract high-level personnel schooled abroad, 90% of our teaching staff have overseas experience as students or visiting scholars. We have invited many renowned foreign professors to give lectures in the School, and attracted excellent full-time teachers from the UK, France, Canada, etc. as well as international students here. Among our faculty members, two serves as vice presidents of national associations, and five as vice presidents or above of Shanghai municipal associations. The Professional Committee on Population Geography of the Geographical Society of China, Professional Committee on Religious Sociology of Chinese Sociological Association, Professional Committee on Urban Sociology of Shanghai Sociological Association and Professional Committee on International Sociology are affiliated to the School.

Over the last few years, the faculty of the School have published more than 100 works and textbooks of various types, and led over 60 major and key projects sponsored by National Social Science Foundation or National Natural Science Foundation and international cooperation projects, and won over 30 scientific research awards at provincial and ministerial levels or above. The school ranks among the best by academic strengths. The primary discipline of sociology of ECNU ranked 10th in 2008 and 9th in 2012 in national discipline evaluation. Our academic strength in sociology is widely recognized in China’s sociology community. The Department of Sociology ranked 4th in 2017 among the secondary faculties of China’s universities in terms of number of essays reprinted in Replicated Journal of Renmin University of China, and 6th in 2017 in terms of number of essays reprinted in Replicated Journal of Renmin University of China and comprehensive index.The primary discipline of sociology of ECNU ranked 7th in 2023Ranking of Chinese University Majors in Soft Science.

There are over 600 undergraduate students, postgraduate students, doctoral students and international students studying in the School.Since it started to enroll students in postgraduate programs in 1982, it has fostered more than 300 postgraduates and 70 doctors, many of whom are famous experts in various specialties under sociology. The school offers 2 undergraduate programs in sociology and social work. Since its enrollment for undergraduate students, the School has been committed to reforming the teaching system and cultivating excellent practitioners in sociology and social work by introducing advanced teaching methods from other countries. Now the School offers bilingual or English-language education for over 10 core curriculum courses. We strive to equip students with a sound theoretical basis and enable them to achieve comprehensive development by inspiring their quest for knowledge and improving their independent thinking and problem-solving skills, which has been proved effective. Our graduates enjoy a wide range of career opportunities and popularity among employers. We have built up a good reputation with a nearly 100% employment rate for several years in a row.