Sociology and Anthropology

The Department of Sociology poster.Sociology and anthropology involve the systematic study of social life and culture in order to understand the causes and consequences of human action. Sociologists and anthropologists study the structure and processes of traditional cultures and modern, industrial societies in both Western and non-Western cultures. They examine how culture, social structures (groups, organizations and communities) and social institutions (family, education, religion, etc.) affect human attitudes, actions and life-chances.

Sociology and anthropology combine scientific and humanistic perspectives in the study of society. Drawing upon various theoretical perspectives, sociologists and anthropologists study areas such as culture, socialization, deviance, inequality, health and illness, family patterns, social change and race and ethnic relations. Combining theoretical perspectives with empirical research allows students an opportunity to develop new insights and a different perspective on their own lives. This combination also helps students to understand everyday social life as a blend of both stable patterns of interaction and ubiquitous sources of social change.

The sociology curriculum prepares the student for both academic and applied research careers in sociology and anthropology. It offers an essential liberal arts background for many careers and professions, including public service and administration, communications and public relations, law, business, medicine, journalism, arts management, environmental science, and other professions. In addition to offering a major in sociology, the department also offers a minor in sociology. Beyond the department itself, the faculty are centrally involved in the black studies, women's studies, environmental studies, and international studies programs.

Our aim is to provide students with communicative and interpretative skills that will allow them to understand the meaning and consequences of human actions and relationships in society. Students will learn to use theoretical and methodological tools to analyze culture, human behavior, and social institutions and to understand the relationship between individual biographies and the functioning of institutions.

The theoretical and methodological courses in the curriculum provide intensive instruction in the analytical integration and critical application of sociological and anthropological theories and methodology. The theoretical courses provide an intensive examination into the various sociological perspectives on human social behavior and on the social systems we create. They evaluate the different ways we use these sociological perspectives to gather and utilize evidence to make inferences about the world in which we live. The department also offers extensive instruction and experience in research design and methodology, including courses in research methods, qualitative and survey methodologies, social statistics, and computer approaches in social research.

Special Programs

The department offers many other opportunities for interested students to engage in research and practice outside of the classroom. The field study and internship programs provide opportunities for disciplined sociological exploration and application of the theoretical and methodological principles learned in the classroom. These programs encourage the student to explore careers that they feel may interest them and give them valuable experience that may help them gain employment after college. Both courses are highly recommended for students planning to do graduate work.

The program also offers study abroad courses to Ghana and South Africa.