Department Learning Goals

The disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology explore the complexities of human life in diverse cultures and societies, geographical areas, and historical moments. Anthropologists and Sociologists investigate social, political, and political economic relationships and transformations, most often in the contemporary moment and in relation to the recent past; archaeologists investigate questions of human culture and transformation across much longer time frames (millennia rather than decades). Aspects of our intellectual histories, theoretical orientations, and methodological practices are distinct, as reflected in our two separate majors. Common to our disciplines is the aim of deepening understanding the human condition.

Sociology and Anthropology are foundational parts of a liberal arts education. Our disciplines challenge students to think critically about the assumptions we make about the world—and about human life, current events, and relationships. We train students to interrogate just how the “natural” or “normal” ideas, behaviors, practices, and relationships are fundamentally shaped by our cultural, social, and historical contexts. Our disciplines require students to confront the complexities of the world and their place in it. Courses in the department draw heavily on cross-cultural examples, focusing on areas of faculty expertise in Africa, Asia, the Arctic, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. The study of inequality across race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and other forms of social difference provides a critical point of conjuncture for our curricula in Sociology and Anthropology.

Beginning with a parallel sequence of introductory, theory, and methods coursework, Anthropology and Sociology majors develop an understanding of the significant concepts, theories, and methodologies consequential to each discipline. Majors gain the ability to mobilize a variety of methods to collect, analyze, and evaluate empirical data and to design investigations of their own.

Anthropology Goals

  • To develop understanding of human cultural and biological diversity across time and space
  • To gain familiarity with anthropological concepts, methods, and theories (within and across the sub-disciplines) and to utilize these to understand issues, relationships, and systems in the present and the past
  • To develop the skills to collect and analyze various types of information (e.g. material, visual, narrative, etc.) and to evaluate the use of qualitative and quantitative data in social science research and in everyday life
  • To develop critical perspectives on relations of power and inequality through attention to local (ethnographic) particularities, global connections, and historical trajectories
  • To communicate effectively through written and oral communication.

Sociology Goals

  • To develop and use a sociological imagination to understand the social world.
  • To understand the role of theory in sociology and be able to apply theoretical frameworks to build sociological understanding of the social.
  • To understand, evaluate, and employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods and data used by social scientists.
  • To develop knowledge of inequalities, power and privilege in society and across the globe.
  • To develop skills that allow the use of sociological knowledge and perspectives in future endeavors, public engagement, and social change.