Jul 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Sociology and Anthropology

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Chair: Professor Adrie Kusserow
Assitant Professor: Krista Billingsley, Candas Pinar, Inaash Islam


The department of sociology and anthropology has the unique feature of combining two disciplines within a single departmental major. Students can pursue a specialized track in either discipline. Although both anthropology and sociology share common interest in the impact of culture and society on human behavior, each has its own history, concepts and theoretical commitments. Anthropology essentially focuses on the role of culture in human experience, and sociology is concerned primarily with the role of social interaction and the social structure in human experience.

In keeping with the liberal arts tradition, the department aims to provide an awareness of the complexity of social life, a tolerance of diversity, and an understanding of the social and cultural forces behind human behavior.  A familiarity with this analytical perspective can be an asset in any of the careers which are usually entered by graduates of liberal arts colleges.

The disciplines of sociology and anthropology provide such knowledge of social and cultural phenomena as can be obtained by the use of empirical methods. While it is hardly the only means of approaching and understanding these matters, the analytical perspectives do provide insights into the nature of the distribution of power and wealth; the sources of group conflict and social turmoil; the basis of social cohesion; the factors contributing to social change; and the emergence of social issues generally.

Sociology/Anthropology Learning Outcomes:

Upon graduation, every Saint Michael’s Anthropology/Sociology major will have met all of the Learning Outcomes below. Non-majors who have taken an LSC-eligible course such as AN109 or SO101 will have met the Learning Outcomes in italics:

  1. Think carefully and critically about their own ideas and the ideas and written arguments of others. (cognitive capacity)
    • Engage regularly, openly, and sensitively with classmates whose opinions and values differ from their own. 
    • Plan and carry out effective oral presentations using, when appropriate, electronic media tools such as PowerPoint or Prezi.
    • Demonstrate a critical understanding of social science reasoning, including both its possibilities and its limitations.
    • Engage in a healthy self-critique illustrating the ways both the culture and social structures governing the society in which they live have shaped both their own beliefs and behaviors.
  2. Value human diversity in its cultural, racial-ethnic, and religious forms. (value)
    • Demonstrate an appreciation for persons from cultural and racial-ethnic categories other than their own. This will be evaluated through written work as well as via interaction with others inside and outside the classroom.
    • Model an enhanced awareness of other cultures by exhibiting knowledge of the history, worldviews, and practices of people from non-Western cultures.
  3. Understand the shaping influence of social structures and culture on human action at the level of the individual and the group. (cognitive capacity)
    • Demonstrate a grasp of the reciprocal relationship between the individual and society.
    • Articulate a basic understanding of the importance of the major demographic factors in shaping society and culture—e.g., death rates from AIDS, obesity, and historic changes in fertility.
    • Exhibit an appreciation for the fields of both anthropology and sociology and be able to describe both the similarities and key differences between these two disciplines.
  4. Value and demonstrate an ethic of service and concern for the socially and culturally marginalized. (value / skill)
    • Demonstrate a deep respect for all individuals regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
    • Interact sensitively with persons from historically marginalized groups in a way that reveals concern for the dignity of such persons and the great value of their contributions to the broader society.
    • Model attentiveness to matters impacting equality, social justice and the rights of all persons.
  5. Craft, carry out, and evaluate social research. (cognitive capacity / skill)
    • Articulate the difference between social theory and empirical research methods and the way each contributes to the other.
    • Demonstrate a robust understanding of the variety of qualitative and quantitative methods available for research on human groups as well as a grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each method.
    • Display, through in-class discussion and written work, a basic grasp of the broad theoretical “lenses” that shape and sharpen social research.
    • Build and carry out at least one major project involving the development of an original research question, and the design and implementation of a project aimed at addressing that question.
  6. Write clearly and succinctly about important topics relating to cultural diversity and social justice. (skill)
    • Summarize and evaluate complex arguments by key thinkers in the fields of anthropology and sociology.
    • Effectively plan, write, and revise an extensive research paper.

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