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Sociology & Anthropology

Students interested in exploring the complexities of human behavior find this interdisciplinary major valuable. Courses focus on the ways in which societies influence individual and group behavior. Students are introduced to cultures other than their own, developing a cross-cultural perspective. Study Abroad is highly encouraged.

At Elmira College, students pursue an interdisciplinary major in Sociology and Anthropology, which is based on four foundational courses; students then concentrate on one or the other discipline before completing a capstone seminar.

Sociology is the study of groups of people living in a society. Sociology courses look at human interaction as shaped by social institutions such as the family, the education system, marriage and relationships, economic structures, religion, and the media. Sociologists are particularly interested in the socialization process that creates the norms, values, and rules of a society. Groups of people with identities that somehow fall outside the norms are particularly interesting. Sociology often looks at social inequalities, especially based on race, social class, and gender. Also offered at Elmira College are courses on social processes like deviance, globalization, social institutions, and inequality, and on race, gender, social class, community, theory, and qualitative methods.

Anthropology is the broad and inclusive study of human beings. It is best noted for its focus on human cultures — the ways that people organize their ways of life — and on the biological and evolutionary history of human beings. The major question anthropology asks is, “Why do people do the things they do, and what do those things mean to them?” At Elmira College, we focus especially on cultural anthropology, with offerings also in biological anthropology, archaeology and linguistics.

The Senior Seminar focuses on individual research projects, emphasizing quality of research design, acquaintance with professional literature, presentation and defense of the student’s findings.