Sociology and Anthropology
Jennie Germann Molz, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers three avenues for specialized study: a major in sociology, a major in anthropology, and a minor in anthropology. The department has one principal mission — to challenge students to examine the social and cultural dimensions of the contemporary world. As social sciences, both disciplines play a distinctive role in the liberal arts curriculum. Each combines a humanistic concern for the quality and diversity of human life with a commitment to the empirical analysis of culture and society. The department welcomes non-majors to courses when space is available. Our curricula also have many ties to Holy Cross’ interdisciplinary programs and concentrations.
Sociology courses draw attention to history, culture, and social structure and their effects on people’s lives. The curriculum features the analysis of cultures and social institutions, of social problems and social change, and of the contribution of social science to policy formulation and implementation. The courses at the 100-level introduce students to the basic concepts and analytical tools used in sociology. Intermediate (200-level) courses provide more detailed coverage and analysis of distinct institutions, social processes, or substantive areas. Advanced seminars and tutorials (300- or 400-level) are intensive courses, typically limited to sociology majors or students participating in interdisciplinary programs or the concentrations housed in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. There is sufficient variation in perspective across the sociology curriculum to offer students both knowledge of sociological theory and methods and a foundation for using a sociological imagination.
The sociology major is designed to provide a critical assessment of the modern world and knowledge of the latest issues in social theory and research. The major is appropriate for students with a wide range of educational and career interests including but by no means limited to graduate study in sociology. Majors often pursue graduate work in law, medicine, health care management, communications, urban affairs, and gerontology, and careers in business, government, education, journalism, management, social services, and public health.
Students majoring in sociology must take a minimum of 10 courses, including The Sociological Perspective (Sociology 101); one course each in logics of inquiry (Sociology 223, Logics of Inquiry), theory (e.g., Sociology 241, The Development of Social Theory), and Social Statistics (Sociology 226); and one advanced 300 or 400-level seminar, tutorial, or research practicum. Five additional departmental electives, selected in accordance with student interests and in consultation with a faculty advisor, complete the major. Two of these electives may be anthropology courses. The department encourages students to create a “subdisciplinary” specialization, but our primary goal is to help students explore a range of social phenomena and issues. Majors may take up to 14 courses in the department; double majors must take 18 courses outside of the department.
The anthropology curriculum focuses on a comparative, social scientific and holistic study of human cultures around the world. Courses offer students opportunities to study people’s experiences outside the West and regularly address Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Courses often highlight cultures in the countries in which faculty work (Zimbabwe, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam) as well as hands-on fieldwork in the Worcester environs. A broad range of courses address art, religion, politics and violence, economic change, globalization, gender, sexuality, race, urban life, national identities, medicine, biotechnology, youth, consumption and fashion. Anthropology expands horizons for all students and can lead to further study or careers in law, development work, diplomacy, human rights endeavors, international business, and medicine, or to graduate studies in anthropology and the opportunity for research abroad.
The anthropology major or minor is available to students in any major except sociology. The major consists of a minimum of 10 courses, including the following required courses: The Anthropological Perspective (Anthropology 101); Theory in Anthropology (Anthropology 320); Ethnographic Field Methods (Anthropology 310); one advanced 300 or 400-level seminar, tutorial, or research practicum; and six additional department electives. Two of these six electives may be sociology courses. All electives are chosen in accordance with student interest and in consultation with a faculty advisor. Majors may take up to 14 courses in the department; double majors must take 18 courses outside of the department.
The minor provides students with the opportunity to explore non-Western but also Western cultures from an anthropological perspective. The minor consists of six courses: The Anthropological Perspective (Anthropology 101); Ethnographic Field Methods (Anthropology 310) or Theory in Anthropology (Anthropology 320); and four additional anthropology courses chosen with the advice of the anthropology faculty.
The department maintains an active advising program for sociology and anthropology students. Faculty advisors work closely with individual advisees to clarify course offerings and discuss academic and career goals. The department encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary concentrations, internships, Washington semester, and study abroad, and it provides advice on how to integrate these activities into a course of study. Internship placements are also a good addendum for sociology and anthropology students, and placements can be arranged in a variety of areas, including health related services, media, law, women’s and children’s services, older adult programs, business and criminal justice. Some examples of programs or agencies that have sponsored sociology and anthropology students’ internships are: The Age Center of Worcester, Abby’s House (shelter for women), Daybreak (battered women’s services), AIDS Project Worcester, City of Worcester Planning Department or Public Health Department, Fidelity Investments, and Worcester Juvenile Probation Office.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a department Honors Program for students seeking the independent research opportunities associated with writing a thesis, independent of the College Honors Program. Our honors program provides qualified majors the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the discipline through a year-long project of their own design, either empirical or theoretical, and to write an honors thesis during their senior year. To be eligible a student must be a major with an overall GPA of at least 3.25 and a departmental GPA of at least 3.5, and in most cases, have completed the theory and methods requirements before the senior year. Application to the department Honors Program is made in the spring semester of the junior year and requires an application, transcript, and thesis proposal. Decisions are made by a Department Honors Selection Committee.
Student scholarship is also recognized by the department in terms of students’ appointment to membership in Alpha Kappa Delta, the international honor society in sociology, or Lambda Alpha, the national collegiate honor society for anthropology. Both societies promote human welfare through the advancement of scientific knowledge that may be applied to the solution of social problems. Both societies sponsor annual student paper contests, as well as support students to present their original work at regional and national conferences.