Letter from the Chair
As academic disciplines, sociology and anthropology have different histories, special theoretical traditions, and a different focus--anthropology more on the societies and cultures outside Europe and the U.S., and sociology more on modern, industrial societies and their problems. But both disciplines share an interest in understanding how societies work, the meaning of culture, the process of social change, and the relationship between us as individuals and the groups and societies of which we are a part.
We also share a concern about the social issues and problems we face today, both in the United States and the world. Why have American families changed so much in the past couple of generations? What role does religion play for people, and for societies as a whole? How does something as intensely personal as death and grieving get shaped by the culture they're found in? How is immigration changing the shape of race relations in America? What's hard about being a male in today's society, and what inequalities do women still face?
What do we stand to lose if the small "endangered" cultures and languages around the world die out? Who benefits from "modernization," and who loses out? Should we be fearful of "globalization," or welcome it? How are human rights understood differently in various cultures? Should we be concerned about what seems to be inequality for women in some cultures around the world, or feel that they are just doing what their culture values? How do we balance the belief in our own values and ethical standards with a tolerance for cultures which value other standards?
We have a strong faculty, with a lot of international experience. Among us, we have people who speak Spanish, Arabic, French, Dutch, Malay, Thai, and some Hebrew. We have done research in Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands, Thailand, Lithuania, Egypt, Malaysia, as well as Indian reservations in Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, and Colorado. We have taken students with us for study in Ireland, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, India, and China.
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Chair of the Department of Sociology/Anthropology