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Academic Program

Academic Program

The Sociology and Anthropology Department provides students with intellectual tools for understanding contemporary and historical cultural patterns and social issues such as globalization, nationalism, racism, sexism, embodiment, and the complex layering of inequalities in everyday life.  These two disciplines approach the study of social life from different avenues, each bringing a set of separate and overlapping analytical and research tools to intellectual tasks that are complementary and synergistic. Our students seek knowledge about societies of the world and the social dynamics within them. To that end, our majors each conduct independent projects based on primary research and/or fieldwork during their senior year.

Sociology and Anthropology analyze experiences at the level of the individual or the group and connect them to larger social dynamics. The disciplines illustrate how matters that are often perceived as "private troubles" are actually consequences of cultural categories and social structures, including those that appear and feel natural and inevitable. Among the goals of Sociology and Anthropology are to acquire knowledge about different social groups and culture systems and to engage critically with the complexities of social life.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology offers a Course Major, Honors Major, Honors Minor, and several Special Majors (including a Special Major in Medical Anthropology), but no Course Minor.

Acceptance to the SOAN department normally requires completion of at least two courses in the department.
In order to graduate, all majors housed in the Sociology and Anthropology Department are required to complete at least the following assigned/core courses:
-ANTH 001- Foundations: Culture, Power, and Meaning
-SOCI 001- Foundations: Self, Culture, and Society
-At least one designated methods course
-A two-credit senior thesis (SOAN 096/097 or SOAN 180F/180S)

The "Foundations" courses offer key introductions to the department's two fields; anthropology and sociology. Each highlights the distinct but complementary theories and methods of the two disciplines and provides a solid background to ongoing debates in each discipline. Throughout the courses, we will examine concepts fundamental to both sociology and cultural anthropology and how these disciplines have changed over time.

The 2-credit senior thesis requirement, in which the student works closely with a faculty advisor, is normally completed in the fall and spring semesters of the senior year.
The requirement includes:
-SOAN 098- Thesis Writers Masters Class
-SOAN 096/097(course) or 180F/180S (Honors)- Thesis tutorial

The senior thesis project represents the centrality of research to our disciplines, and allows students to develop their research interests through working directly with a faculty member. Students develop their analytical and writing skills and learn the process of developing and conducting a substantial research project from proposal to completed manuscript. 

For current course and seminar listings, consult the website at https://www.swarthmore.edu/sociology-anthropology/current-courses