Anthropology/Sociology Website


Chair, Professor MICHAEL F. BROWN

Professors: M. F. BROWN, D. EDWARDS**, JACKALL*, JUST. Associate Professors: FOIAS, NOLAN*. Assistant Professor: SHEVCHENKO. Distinguished Visiting Professor: ERIKSON§. Visiting Assistant Professor: STANCZAK.

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Williams aims to help students achieve an integrated understanding of biography, history, culture, and social structure in both traditional and modern societies.

Anthropology explores the full range of human experience by introducing students to the study of tribal and peasant societies, especially those on the periphery of the West, as well as to the cultural complexities of stratified, industrial societies such as our own. Integrated with the study of specific peoples is an examination of the various analytical schemes anthropologists have developed to understand them. Courses offered in the department represent two of Anthropology's major subfields: sociocultural anthropology-that is, the comparative study of human social life, institutions, and beliefs-and archaeology, the study of the origins and lifeways of prehistoric peoples.

Sociology studies the social and institutional intricacies of modern industrial societies and the social psychological dilemmas facing the individual in our epoch. Sociology courses introduce students to classical and contemporary social thought about men and women and society, to the systematic analysis of social institutions and social interaction, and to the social analysis of modern culture. The Sociology major at Williams emphasizes the humanistic tradition of sociology, stressing qualitative approaches to understanding how social reality is constructed.


The department offers separate majors in both Anthropology and Sociology, with a broad and diverse array of courses in both disciplines. The department is committed, however, to the unity of the social sciences. To this end, Anthropology and Sociology offer joint core courses in methodology and theory, as well as several elective courses in common. All joint courses are designated "ANSO."


For the degree in Anthropology or Sociology, students must complete a minimum of nine courses as outlined below:

(1) Core Courses. Majors in both disciplines must take a sequence of four core courses. Three of these are joint (ANSO) courses. The sequences are:

Joint (ANSO)
ANSO 205 Ways of Knowing

ANSO 305 Social Theory

ANSO 402 Senior Seminar

ANTH 101 The Scope of Anthropology

SOC 101 Invitation to Sociology

(2) Elective Courses. Majors in Anthropology or Sociology must take five elective courses from the course listings of their respective disciplines or from the joint ANSO listings. Two of the courses chosen are normally at the 300 level or above. In close consultation with their departmental advisors, students may take some selected courses from other disciplines to fulfill major requirements in either Anthropology or Sociology.

(3) Majors in each wing of the department are allowed to count up to two courses in the other wing towards fulfillment of their major requirements.


In addition to the nine total courses required for the major, it is recommended that Anthropology and Sociology majors take Statistics 101 or a comparable course in statistics and data analysis.


Students who wish to combine a major in Anthropology or Sociology with an Area Studies concentration are encouraged to do so. Courses taken to satisfy an Area Studies requirement may be counted toward the major with prior approval of a student's departmental advisor. The only exception to this rule is the Area Studies senior seminar, which cannot ordinarily be counted toward the Anthropology or Sociology degree.


Departmental advisors will help interested students integrate a major with study abroad, foreign language study, or field research during the winter study period. The department encourages Williams students to take advantage of established foreign study programs in Egypt, Japan, India, Hong Kong, and other countries. Because some foreign study programs do not offer courses that can be counted toward the Anthropology or Sociology degrees, however, sophomores planning to study abroad in junior year must consult with the departmental advisor before declaring a major.


Honors and highest honors are normally awarded for the completion of a year-long research project that has resulted in an original thesis of high quality. Students wishing to write an honors thesis should engage a member of the department faculty as a Thesis Advisor as soon as possible and must submit a proposal for the thesis for department approval no later than preregistration in the spring of the junior year. If the proposal is approved, they will be permitted to register for Anthropology and Sociology 493-W031-494, during which they will write and defend a thesis. If their overall work in the major continues to be of high quality and the thesis is deemed of a similar quality, they may be awarded honors or highest honors in Anthropology or Sociology.