First Year Program - Sociology and Anthropology Skip Navigation

Sociology and Anthropology (SOCI / ANTH)

Chair: P. Lopes

Sociology and anthropology study human cultures and societies, past and present, on a comparative basis. These disciplines are concerned with analyzing and understanding the social structures and values that shape our lives, as well as the institutions and social forces of our own and other societies. The major in sociology or anthropology provides an excellent preparation for graduate study and a variety of careers, including law, education, business, public administration, journalism, health, counseling, and social work. Sociology and anthropology graduates also pursue careers in local, national, and international non-profit organizations. The department offers two majors, one in anthropology and one in sociology.

Anthropology is the study of human beings in all their complexity. The scope of anthropology is truly global, as it aims to describe and analyze the full diversity of the human experience and cultural creativity across time and space. Anthropology recognizes that human beings are, simultaneously, social actors who create cultures and the products of those cultures. Using a broad array of research methods, including participant-observation and archaeological excavation, anthropologists investigate the historical composition of societies, their transformations, and their contemporary forms. We seek to understand the commonalities and differences in the identities, experiences, discourses, and beliefs of people around the world. We connect the details of people’s everyday lives to large-scale social systems and cultural forces and reveal that seemingly innate or natural differences among human groups are the result of historical, social, and political-economic processes. The curriculum integrates classroom and out-of-classroom learning, encouraging students to pursue off-campus study and independent fieldwork or research with collections.

Sociology is the scientific study of the organization and functioning of societies, their major institutions, groups, and values. Sociologists are particularly interested in understanding and explaining social issues and problems, and the sources of stress and change in contemporary and historical societies. Our courses provide students with critical perspectives on a wide range of major social issues, including globalization, immigration, social stratification and inequality, race and ethnic relations, gender and sexuality, age, aging, and ageism, unemployment, crime and deviance, conflict and war, environmental politics, social movements, popular culture, and media and politics. In addition, students take courses on classical and contemporary sociological theory, research design, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. The culmination of our curriculum is the required senior seminar. This course provides an opportunity for students to draw on their substantive and methodological training to complete an independent research project on a topic of their choice.


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ANTH 102, Intro to Cultural Anthropology
Provides an introduction to cultural anthropology and is intended to help students come to a better understanding of human cultures and societies through the analysis and comparison of specific cases. Students study diverse societies from a wide range of geographic areas and examine topics such as kinship and marriage, economic organization, religion, gender, and social change. Students learn about some of the major theories and theorists in cultural anthropology and examine the way cultural anthropologists collect and interpret data, particularly in the course of fieldwork.

ANTH 103, Introduction to Archaeology
Introduces students to the basic concepts and issues of archaeology today through an examination of both method and theory. Topics include data analysis and interpretation, culture history, prehistoric technology and settlements, and cultural resources management.

PCON 218, Practices of Peace & Conflict
Introduces students to a range of approaches and problems in the descriptive analysis of peace and conflict. Students juxtapose core theoretical texts on war and violence from the social and human sciences with detailed ethnographic case studies. Practices of contemporary conflict are paired with the interpretive paradigms whose aim is to understand and resolve them. For example, case studies in terror are paired with the field of trauma studies; specific regional conflicts with theories of global networks; and contemporary mass violence with analysis of genocide perpetration. In the process, introduces students to important methodological paradigms from the social sciences, chiefly from anthropology, sociology, and geography, as well as humanities-based approaches from comparative religion, literature, and language studies.


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SOCI 101, Introduction to Sociology
An introduction to sociology, with special emphasis on American society, using a historical and comparative focus. Introduces students to some of the basic concepts and methods used by sociologists. Students consider a selection of topics: racial inequality, class reproduction, gender roles, work and society, social movements, bureaucracy, and crime and deviance.