Sociology and Anthropology (S/A)Academic Catalog: 2019–2020

  • Suzanne Wilson, Chairperson
  • Annika Ericksen
  • Naomi Hansen (Visiting, 2019–2020)
  • Elizabeth Jenner
  • Colin Smith (Visiting, 2019–2020)

The Sociology and Anthropology Department supports the college’s liberal arts’ goals and mission, including community, diversity, justice, and service. The department’s mission is to foster in our students: a) curiosity; b) open-mindedness; c) respect for other cultures and experiences; and d) engagement with pressing social problems and the world’s greatest challenges. We focus on sociology’s ability to foster in students the skills to analyze “public issues that underlie private troubles” and anthropology’s capacity to promote cultural understanding. The department produces life-long learners who think critically, analytically, and independently.


The major in Sociology/Anthropology requires a minimum of 11 courses distributed as follows:

  1. S/A-111, S/A-112, S/A-113, S/A-247, S/A-375, S/A-377, and S/A-399.
  2. Four additional S/A courses, excluding career exploration, internship, and honors thesis. Only one independent study may count toward the major.
  3. Students interested in graduate school in Sociology are encouraged to consider taking an additional course in statistics or social statistics, such as MCS-140 or MCS-142.
  4. Students must maintain a grade point average of C+ (2.33) in the major.

Major with Honors:

Senior majors who maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 in all sociology and anthropology courses taken, with a maximum of two course grades of less than B, are eligible to participate in the Department’s honors program. Students with less than the minimum grade point average have one semester to raise it before losing eligibility. In addition to the requirements for the major listed above, honors students enroll in S/A-396 and S/A-397 during fall and spring semesters of their senior year. Students will normally have completed their methods and theory requirements by the end of their junior year and will submit a letter of intention to participate in the honors program at that time. Honors students will complete a departmentally approved honors thesis while enrolled in S/A-397 after a grade of no less than B in S/A-396. Honors students may graduate in the major with honors, high honors, or highest honors. Students with an academic offense (e.g., violation of the honor code), determined by standards set by Gustavus Adolphus College academic procedures, will lose honors eligibility.


A minor in Sociology/Anthropology requires a minimum of 6 courses distributed as follows:

  1. S/A-111 and S/A-112
  2. Two Sociology courses chosen from S/A-113, S/A-231, S/A-235, S/A-242, S/A-243, S/A-246, S/A-247, S/A-262, S/A-264, S/A-273, and S/A-375.
  3. Two Anthropology courses chosen from S/A-258, S/A-255, S/A-259, S/A-265, S/A-266, S/A-270, and S/A-377.
  4. Special topics courses (S/A-244) may be approved to count toward the minor

Sociology and Anthropology Courses

111 Cultural Anthropology (1 course) An introduction to the discipline of anthropology and to the study of simple and complex societies. Universal aspects of human culture, including kinship, economic, political, and religious systems, are examined in cross-cultural perspective. A foundation for other courses in the major. This course counts towards the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies major/minor. GLOBLSOSCI, Fall and Spring semesters.

112 Introduction to Sociology (1 course) An introduction to sociology as a method of social analysis. Consideration of sociological concepts and perspectives as applied to the study of social processes and institutions. Elementary analysis and interpretation of social data. Foundation for other courses in the major. SOSCI, Fall and Spring semesters.

113 Social Problems (1 course) A survey of social problems which have their origin in contemporary systems of social organization; an intensive study of the causes of selected American social problems, and an evaluation of the attempts to solve them. This course counts towards the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies major/minor. SOSCI, Fall and Spring semesters.

231 Kinship and Marriage (1 course) This course explores the range of kinship structures in the U.S. and how social forces, such as changing gender roles, economic restructuring, and the diversity of the U.S. population, have affected families. The class examines kinship types, marriage, parenthood, childhood, extended families, kinship networks, and current issues facing families. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. Fall semester.

235 Social Inequality (1 course) This course examines social inequality in the United States. It focuses on the social construction of inequality, political and economic institutions, and their relationship to social class, race and ethnicity, and gender. Attention is given to theories and research about social inequality. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies majors/minors. Fall semester.

242 Drugs and Society (1 course) This course examines the social causes and consequences of drug use, and theoretical frameworks used to explain drugs in society. It also explores the social, cultural, political, and economic processes that shape U.S. drug policy and our understandings of it. Spring semester.

243 Globalization (1 course) Globalization has become one of the defining world processes, as nations, communities, and regions are being linked through the world economy. The course will familiarize students with various theoretical perspectives proposed to explain globalization. Attention will be given to the politics and economics of globalization as well as to key issues, such as global crime, information technology, and the environment. This course counts toward the LALACS and the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies majors/minors. Spring semester.

244, 344 Special Topics in Sociology and Anthropology (1 course) This course will offer in-depth analysis of selected topics in sociology and anthropology, such as economic anthropology, rural sociology, and geographical area courses. The individual course topic will vary from semester to semester, and will be indicated by a course tittle or subtitle. Courses provide students with an in-depth examination at an upper division level with emphasis on student participation. More than one special topic may be taken in a single semester. Course can be repeated if content varies. Some courses may carry a general education designation but only if indicated in the posted course description. Offered occasionally.

245 Humans and Animals (1 course) How do understandings about human-animal relationships differ across cultures? What does it mean to conceptualize members of other species are “persons?” In this course we examine the many meanings and purposes that animals have for people-for example, they can be food, symbols, companions, test subjects, or investments. We will uncover these meanings in our own culture(s) and in a variety of global, indigenous, and historical contexts. Participants will explore the value of studying human-animal relationships in anthropology and across liberal arts disciplines. For the course capstone, participants propose multispecies ethnographic research projects on topics of their choice. GLOBL, Fall semester.

246 Body Perspectives (1 course) This course draws on sociological, interdisciplinary, and feminist perspectives to consider the regulation, control, and experience of the body in U.S. culture. Emphasis is placed on theories that view bodies as products of discourses (medical knowledge and practice, media representations, and institutional regimens) and as agents of social activities and interactions in daily life, including identities, relationships, differences, bases for inequalities and forms of oppression, and sites of resistance and struggles for change. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. Prerequisites: Junior standing and at least one S/A or GWS course. Offered occasionally.

247 Methods of Research (1 course) Consideration of qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry as applied to social situations. Design of research project after review of relevant literature. Prerequisites: S/A-112 or permission of instructor. WRITD, Fall semester.

255 Sustainability and Human Nature(s) (1 course) This course examines humans’ ability to live sustainably and cope with challenges such as climate change. In the first unit, students study human evolution and explore questions of how our ancestors adapted to changing environmental conditions. Next, students examine case studies from diverse cultural and political contexts to analyze modern humans’ capacity to strike a balance with our environment and also our potential for self-destruction through non-sustainable practices. The capstone assignment provides first-hand social science research experience in studying the values, beliefs, and habits that influence environmental practices within our own community. SOSCIWRITI, Spring semester.

258 African Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean (1 course) The Atlantic slave trade forced millions of Africans to Latin America and the Caribbean. This course examines the origins, character, and persistence of diverse African cultures in the New World as well as their extraordinarily colorful and creative hybridization through interactions with European and indigenous languages and traditions. This includes African dialects, religions, music, art, dance, family structures and values, folk psychologies, healing practices, and more. The goal is to understand the origins and development of Afro-Latin and Afro-Caribbean cultural experience and the dynamics of cultural change from an anthropological perspective. This course counts toward the African Studies minor and the LALACS major/minor. GLOBL, Fall semester.

259 The Anthropology of Religion (1 course) This course reviews comparative anthropological approaches to the study of magic, witchcraft, and religion, primarily in nonWestern societies. Focus is on the nature, roles, and varieties of belief and myth; ritual and symbolization; religious experience, including drug and non-drug induced trance states and their psycho-cultural dimensions; and magico-religious social organization. The course will emphasize shamanic and spirit possession religions and radical religious movements, such as nativistic and messianic cults. In relation to all of these, anthropological theories of the origins and functions of magic, witchcraft, and religion in social life and personal experience will be critically examined. This course counts toward the African Studies minor and the Religion major/minor. GLOBL, Spring semester.

260 Race and Ethnicity (1 course) Race and ethnicity are two of our most fundamental and taken-for-granted social categories. Yet both are riddled with paradoxes and are the subject of heated debate. This course takes a critical approach to the formation of racial and ethnic identities in various national and international contexts of power and domination. It investigates how systems of racial classification have served as forms of social control as well as forms of resistance and self-determination in different times and places. It further examines how race and ethnicity intersect with class, gender, and generation, and how racial and ethnic identities may be changing in the twenty-first century. Spring semester.

262 Sociology of Medicine (1 course) Exploration of the social context of health, illness, and the health care system in American society by examining issues related to the experience of illness, the healing professions, health policy, relations between providers and patients, and the effects of social inequality on health. Topics will include doctor-patient relationships, alternative medical practices, the sick role, variations in illness behavior, organization of the medical profession, social structure of the hospital, and politics of the health care system. A major objective is to encourage students to analyze sociologically relationships between the structure of society, the delivery of health, and the pursuit of health. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. Prerequisite: S/A-112 or permission of the instructor. Spring semester.

264 Criminology (1 course) This course examines crime, law, and the criminal justice system. It explores definitions of crime, the extent of crime, types of crime, who commits crime, the criminal justice process, and criminological theories. The class emphasizes the relative nature of criminal actions and the relationship between social inequality and the criminal justice system. Fall semester.

265 Nomadic Pastoralism (1 course) This course focuses on the lives and cultures of herders who migrate with their livestock in order to survive in harsh environments. While some nomadic groups once wielded immense power (consider Genghis Khan’s Empire), today, many suffer political and economic marginalization and threats from climate change. Students will use anthropological perspectives to better understand cultures that may seem dramatically different from their own. They will also analyze the romanticization and marginalization of nomads, current affairs, and cultural change. Areas of study include Tibet, Mongolia, and Central Asia, the Sahara Desert and other regions of Africa, and northern Scandinavia. This course counts toward the African Studies minor. GLOBL, Offered occasionally.

266 Psychological Anthropology (1 course) Psychological anthropology is the study of the dynamic relationship between culture and psychology, with primary emphasis on non-Western cultures and their culture-bearers. This includes “folk models” of psychological experience (ethno-psychology). The course introduces the research, methods, and theory in the field and examines how culture interfaces with personality; mind (e.g., thinking, consciousness, and altered states, including dreams and trance); the constitution of the self and emotion; psychopathology (e.g., culture-bound syndromes); and personal experience. GLOBL, Fall semester.

270 Ethnic and Religious Conflict (1 course) This course introduces the anthropological approach to ethnic and religious conflicts and violence. In modern times, most wars have concerned such conflicts. A majority of them have surfaced in non-Western states (e.g., between Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese in Sri Lanka; Kurds and other Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran; Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda; and indigenous peoples versus Chinese immigrants throughout SE Asia), but also in Western states that include Christian groups (e.g., in Northern Ireland, Spain, and the former Yugoslavia). The cultural and religious character of several prominent cases will be examined, as well as their origins and historical development and their social, political, and economic dynamics. This course counts towards the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies major/minor. GLOBL, Spring semester.

268, 368 Career Exploration, Internship (Course value to be determined) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. See description of the Internship Program. Prerequisite: junior or senior status. Fall and Spring semesters and Summer.

375 Sociological Theory (1 course) Major schools of sociological theory; theoretical concepts; basic controversies in the area of sociological theory. Prerequisite: S/A-112. Fall semester.

377 Anthropological Theory (1 course) Anthropological theory derives from field research on non-Western societies and cultures. This course introduces students to the historical development of anthropological theory through examinations of classical field studies of indigenous societies and cultures--including those of the Americas, New Guinea, Afghanistan, Bali, Nepal, and elsewhere—which inspire and support the prominent theoretical schools and raise the major debates and theoretical questions. Prerequisite: S/A-111. Spring semester.

291, 391 Independent Study (Course value to be determined) Prerequisite: junior standing and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the major.

396 Qualifying Tutorial (1 course) Open only to seniors eligible for departmental Honors. (See “Majors with Honors” above.) Preparation of departmentally approved proposal for a senior thesis in consultation with an advisor. Prerequisites: S/A-247, S/A-375, and S/A-377, or departmental permission. Fall semester.

397 Honors Thesis (1 course) Open to seniors eligible for department Honors having received a grade of B or higher in S/A-396. (See “Major with Honors” above.) Preparation and public defense of a senior thesis. Spring semester.

399 Seminar in Sociology and Anthropology (1 course) This course critically examines different philosophies of research, the theoretical foundation of qualitative research, and its techniques. Readings address the practical and ethical challenges of field research in diverse social and cultural spaces. Students engage in hands-on ethnographic research and analysis that provides them with the opportunity to conduct an independent research project under the mentorship of Sociology/Anthropology department faculty. Prerequisites: S/A-247 and either S/A-375 or S/A-377. Spring semester.