Mission and Learning Goals

Sociology and Anthropology attempt to chart the interconnections between the various realms of thought and conduct, to find the balance between the social and individual components of personal identity and to locate the social origins of both harmony and strife in every area of experience. In pursuing an understanding of how and why society functions, these disciplines contribute significantly to students’ global and intercultural competence, and prepare them for active engagement as responsible, committed global citizens.  The department contributes significantly to the institutions’ strategic direction of providing our students with an integrated liberal arts experience. Specifically, the CSB and SJU Sociology Department seeks to educate students with the understanding that:

Sociology and Anthropology train students to think contextually.

Everything about our lives is situated within and affected by our social contexts...whether historical, geographical, religious, racial, or otherwise defined. The study of Sociology and Anthropology helps us understand how contexts structure, constrain, and shape our identity, thinking and behavior, as well as how we create the contexts we operate under. Our department aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to appreciate, assess, and, when desired, to help alter these contexts.

  • Students will be able to apply their understanding of the complex nature of society.
  • Students will be able to explain why interpretations of culture are the necessary complement of causal models in the social sciences.
  • Students will be able to articulate how and why all causal models are probabilistic approximations and all cultural interpretations are more or less idealized. Students will be able to critique ways of knowing, including comparison and contrast of various methods of research in the social sciences.
  • Students will be able to step imaginatively outside of their own place on the social landscape to see how the social system looks from the standpoint of a different class, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious or political commitment.

Sociology and Anthropology provide students with the tools to know how they know, and to evaluate the validity and reliability of ideas.

  • Students will be able to differentiate between political or philosophical rhetoric and evidence-based social research.
  • Students will be able to recognize and communicate the symbiotic relationship between theory and research.
  • Students will be able to critique a research study to see both strengths and weaknesses of any given research strategy.
  • Students will be able to use theory to generate propositions that can be tested and propose appropriate methods for testing them.

Sociology and Anthropology emphasize global relationships and cultural diversity.

Sociology and anthropology help us to understand not only our own lives and the contexts in which they emerge, but also how the diversity of lives in other cultures as well as our own are made possible by economies, development, colonialism in various forms, environmental conditions, political dynamics, and other power differentials.

  • Students will be able to describe multiple sociocultural groups and practices, nationally and internationally.
  • Students will be able to critically assess the ways in which cultural and social diversity helps to make (or is hindered by) our world systems.
  • Students will be able to use their knowledge of sociocultural diversity in analyzing particular global relationships.

Sociology and Anthropology inspire a particular lens for understanding the world’s problems and contributing to solutions to these problems.

We put our departmental goals into practice through a curriculum that emphasizes traditional liberal arts scholarship as well as the application of this scholarship to contemporary problems. In doing so, we aim to produce citizens committed to community participation and transformative leaders who will enter a variety of professional sectors, including the academic, nonprofit, business, political, and legal fields in both local and global venues.

  • Students will be able to take the perspectives of others, employing a social scientific outlook to analyze how positions develop and the forces that influence people’s views of reality.
  • Given a particular social phenomenon, students will be able to identify the variables that influence or create the phenomenon.
  • Students will be able to analyze how a particular cultural or social paradigm changes over time and/or space.
  • Students will be able to apply knowledge of the discipline to real-world practical problems.
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Ellen Block
Chair, Sociology Department
SJU Simons 114