The goal of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is to develop students’ insight into the nature of society, the diversity of cultures around the world, and the similarities that all peoples and societies share. Course work, independent study, and collaborative research work with faculty all provide a basis for later graduate study, as well as for a wide variety of occupations upon graduation.

Students are encouraged to work with faculty members on ongoing research projects; in some cases, these are paid positions. Recent topics on which students did research work with faculty include gays in the military, the nature of family life in China, the archeology of Labrador, the adaptation of women whose mothers took DES and who thus face a significant risk of cancer, the use of mediation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an update of the birth control chapter for The New Our Bodies, Ourselves, relationships between domestic servants and their employers in South India, the archeology of state formation in Cameroon, and an investigation of social and health influences on Maine's low infant mortality rate.

Among the topics explored in this department: gender and family, law and justice, health and illness, global political economy, population, construction of racial and ethnic identities, the interrelationship of human societies and the environment, social stratification, memory and identity, social movements, urban sociology, discourses of emotion, New England prehistory, and the relationship between culture and performance.

Courses also focus on specific cultures: Africa and African American cultures, Latin America, Native America, the Arctic, China, and South Asia.