Majors & Minors

Sociology & Anthropology

Southwestern undergraduates research how social patterns and cultural groups affect human attitudes and behaviors.


Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Professor of Anthropology


Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Professor of Anthropology

Southwestern celebrates the class of 2019 graduates from the Sociology and Anthropology Department. 
Southwestern celebrates the class of 2019 graduates from the Sociology and Anthropology Department.  (Credit: Carlos Barron)

In Southwestern’s highly interdisciplinary sociology and anthropology courses, students discover and interpret how different social and cultural groups understand what it means to be human in the world. We consider relationships between the public and the private, examining patterns of human behavior at the individual, interactional, and structural levels. We unpack assumptions about gender, race, ethnicity, class, and religion and consider how these social and cultural characteristics shape our thinking and actions, especially within systems of differential power relations. Our commitment to social justice is based on an appreciation of social and cultural diversity and an awareness of social inequalities.

Studying anthropology and sociology at Southwestern is distinctive because every major conducts original research—or collaborates with faculty on their research programs—and has the opportunity the present at professional conferences and publish in scholarly journals. Anthropology majors, for example, engage in ethnographic projects, often while studying away or abroad; recent topics have included the impacts of tourism on Peruvian textile production and the relationship between race and environmental conservation in Tasmania. Sociology majors engage in both qualitative and quantitative research; recent projects have examined the racialized experiences of French-born individuals of North African ethnicities in France and elementary-school teachers’ views on campus safety in the wake of Sandy Hook.

Equipped with graduate-level research skills as well as empathy and a broader perspective on the human experience, our graduates learn to engage with the world in thoughtful, positive ways. They have gone on to explore a range of 21st-century careers, from museum studies, law, social work, public health, and medicine to sustainable development, nonprofit work, government, and education.


Featured Alumni Stories

Carlie Sulpizio ’13 with community members of Burkina Faso, Africa. 

Great Unexpectations

Carlie Sulpizio ’13 reflects on her serendipitous path as an SU anthropology major, a Peace Corps volunteer, and a global-health researcher.

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"Cruising in an incredible exercise in team building. Confined living space, stressful situations, moments of pure bliss—it’s all a recipe for bringing you closer with your cruising partner/s."

Emma Davis ’14 Is on a Boat!

The environmental studies major is sailing around the world while practicing sustainable living.

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Shauna Davidson ’08 with a Nahla class.

Fulfilling the Dreams of Many

Shauna Davidson ’08 helps build primary schools and empower children to overcome poverty in Northern Uganda.

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Sociology & Anthropology News

La Moneda Palace, Santiago, Chile

Southwestern University Student Awarded Gilman International Scholarship

Anthropology major Alex Bell ’21 will study comparative education and social change in Santiago, Chile.

Washington, D.C.

Southwestern Sumners Scholars Explore Internships in DC

The Hatton W. Sumners Scholars Program creates high-impact experiences for SU’s best and brightest.

Personifying the University’s core values of “respecting the worth and dignity of persons” and “encouraging activism in the pursuit of justice and the common good,” a group of Southwestern students spent their spring break exploring how the contributions of workers, and especially the labor provided by immigrants, have often been undervalued and even erased in popular narratives about the U.S.’s economic and social progress.

Uncovering Hidden Histories

Southwestern students explore workers’ rights in Asian-American communities.