Variety is one strength of Fresno Pacific University’s newest academic honor society.

Pi Gamma Mu is the only interdisciplinary social sciences honor society, recognizing the disciplines of history, political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology, international relations, criminal justice, social work, social philosophy, the history of education and human geography.

FPU established its chapter in April 2018 with 24 members. Darin Lenz, Ph.D., associate professor of history, led the effort to establish Pi Gamma Mu with support from Ray Nickson, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the criminal justice program, and Marshall Johnston, Ph.D., associate professor of history. Students Savanah Sellai and Rolaine Castro also represented FPU in meetings with Pi Gamma Mu officials during the application process.

By its nature, an interdisciplinary honor society is a natural fit for FPU. “Pi Gamma Mu embodies the interdisciplinary ethos that defines the collaboration across disciplines that happens at Fresno Pacific University. Faculty in the social sciences already effectively work together and Pi Gamma Mu will give us an opportunity to make that labor more obvious to students and enable them to see the academic benefit of majoring or minoring in the social sciences,” Lenz said.

Plans are in the works to offer educational trips, sponsor lectures, promote student-faculty scholarship and encourage cross-disciplinary thinking. There will also be opportunities for FPU members to participate in national activities and see how their research stacks up in a wider arena. “They can network across many fields,” Nickson said. “It can challenge students to take their work to the next level.”

Pi Gamma Mu was founded in 1924 and now has 150 chapters. Its mission is “to encourage and promote excellence in the social sciences and to uphold and nurture scholarship, leadership and service,” and its motto is: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” More at pigammamu.org

Students need not major or minor in the social sciences before joining. They must, however:

  • Complete at least 37.5 percent of the total hours/credits required to graduate 

  • Complete at least 20 semester hours/credits in the social sciences

  • Have an average grade of "B" or better in all social sciences courses

  • Rank in the top 35 percent of their respective class

The addition of Pi Gamma Mu brings the number of academic honor society chapters at FPU to four. The others are Alpha Chi, also an interdisciplinary group; Phi Alpha Theta for history; and Kappa Mu Epsilon for mathematics.

Membership in an honor society is a definition of success. “It’s shorthand for someone who is high-achieving and hard-working. I think they have a value in the job market,” Nickson said.