Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Why Study Sociology at Holy Cross?
Sociology is the study of social relationships and institutions in society. Faculty in the department regularly publish qualitative and quantitative research in top-rated academic venues, exploring topics such as inequality, race, class, gender, medicine, environmental issues, work, consumerism, family, religion, globalization, travel, social movements, poverty, and corporate responsibility.
The study of sociology at Holy Cross provides close faculty-student interaction and mentoring. Students are encouraged to go beyond the classroom by participating in internships, study abroad opportunities, community-based learning, and multidisciplinary concentrations. Students graduate with strong critical thinking and research skills, entering careers such as business, health professions, education, marketing, and non-profit organizations.
The sociology curriculum focuses on applying theory and sophisticated empirical research methods to address complex real-world issues. Students gain analytical tools to reflect critically on their own lives and the world around them. The department is committed to the social justice mission of the College, with special strengths in the study of social class and inequality.
Faculty Members Are Public Intellectuals
Many of the sociology faculty members are public intellectuals, who regularly publish in popular media, such as blogs and newspapers, produce gallery exhibitions, share expertise with K-12 teachers, or work for social justice in Worcester and beyond.
- Ellis Jones regularly publishes a handbook to help consumers make more socially and environmentally responsible purchases (he has been quoted about the subject in the Chicago Tribune), and has his students translate their in-class research into smartphone apps for use by the public.
- Daina Harvey was recognized as one of the “Coolest People in Worcester” for his research with a student on the relationship between tree coverage and economic inequality in the city, which was later published in a top-ranked academic journal. He also co-curated a major two-part exhibit in the Cantor Art Gallery on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
- Over the past few years, Jennie Germann Molz has contributed to Teaching for Global Understanding in the 21st Century, a summer institute for K-12 teachers organized by Primary Source, a global education nonprofit located in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Faculty members in the department also publish their research in top-rated academic venues. Professors publish books with major academic presses (California, Chicago, Hawaii, NYU, Oxford, Routledge, Rutgers) and articles in prominent journals.
General Information About Majoring in Sociology
- Everyday Sociology Blog: Why Major in Sociology
- American Sociological Association: Navigating the Sociology Major (PDF)
Why Study Anthropology at Holy Cross?
Anthropology provides students the skills to navigate a rapidly changing world, marked by globalization and political turmoil. The anthropology major or minor helps students understand these global transformations and creates bridges between different worldviews. Anthropology’s distinctive way of studying the world through intensive ethnographic fieldwork provides key insights into how people around the world experience gender, race and class hierarchies in their daily lives, and how they challenge those hierarchies. Anthropology not only provides a diagnosis for the present, but also offers possible solutions to our pressing human problems.
Courses offer students opportunities to study people’s experiences in all seven continents. Topics explored include art, religion, economic change, genders, sexualities, race, urban life, kinship, national identities, medicine, biotechnology, youth, consumption and fashion. Anthropology aims to educate global citizens who are knowledgeable about the world and can apply that knowledge in real-life situations, either locally or abroad. Students go on to use their anthropological skills in the realms of international business, education, law, diplomacy, public health, human rights, journalism, medicine and many other fields.
Anthropology makes the world smaller by getting students to consider how events and social transformations in other parts of the world are related to our own concerns, stressing the importance of human diversity and of transnational connections. Faculty are able to bring other cultures to life because they have lived abroad for long stretches of time, or they come from different parts of the world. Faculty are actively engaged in fieldwork around the world — Zimbabwe, Singapore, Brazil, Vietnam, and the United States — and conduct original research in English, Spanish, ChiShona, French, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.
Although rooted in the main fields of sociology and anthropology, the work of the department is profoundly interdisciplinary. Faculty advisors work closely with individual students to discuss academic and career goals based on their interests and passions. Through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, students can pursue interdisciplinary concentrations and programs in the following, in addition to their sociology or anthropology degree:
Our current and former students, and especially our Black students, alumni, colleagues, and community members, are at the center of our concerns as the nation is wracked with ongoing racism and activists take to the streets demanding justice. The continued police brutality against Black people -- George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and many others -- and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacting communities of color, especially Black people across the globe, do not happen in a vacuum. We see and recognize the pain that these events cause our students of color, particularly our Black students, and we are united with all students in the effort to transform our society and our campus.
As sociologists and anthropologists we stand as a Department in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in deploring this violence and calling for an end to structural racism and the injustices it perpetuates throughout our society. In this moment, the voices, lives, and experiences of Black people across the globe must be centered, both in public discourse and in our classrooms. While we recognize that our disciplines contribute critical perspectives for understanding racism, white supremacy, and colonialism, we also recognize our own disciplines’ shortcomings both historically and today. We look forward to continuing to unpack structural, institutional, and interpersonal mechanisms perpetuating racism with you all, and students across the campus, and stand together in a shared commitment to anti-racist knowledge and action. Black Lives Matter is the civil rights movement of our era, and all of us need to be part of it if it is to succeed in its aims.
We, the faculty of Sociology of Anthropology, have discussed specific steps that we plan to take to address our current moment and center anti-racism in our pedagogy and our curriculum, in our support of students, and in our advocacy of institutional initiatives. More specifically, we commit to do the following:
- Dedicate a week of each of our courses specifically to issues of racial justice.
- Continue to teach courses explicitly focused on race and anti-racism. In Fall 2020 we will offer three: “Race and Power,” “Race, Crime, and Justice,” and “Global Anti-Racism” and look forward to developing more in the future.
- Become actively involved in teach-ins on racial justice and actions.
- Provide support throughout the College to efforts combating racism.
- Support students in their efforts to address racism at every level of society, including the campus community. You can count on us as unwavering allies who recognize your concerns and needs, and who want to empower you to transform the world.
- Work with the Dean of Experiential Learning and Student Success to ensure that students desiring to spend a semester at an HBCU are given the opportunity and necessary support to do so.
We welcome the opportunity to learn alongside you and encourage you to contact us if we can support you in your endeavors to understand and address anti-Black, or any other forms of, racism, white supremacy, institutional, particularly police, violence, ongoing social movements, or anything else.
Actions You Can Take to Combat Anti-Blackness
For Black people, remember that self-care is resistance in a culture that devalues your life. Take care of yourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Let others know what you need to take care of yourself. Share your experiences when it is empowering for you. It is not your obligation to carry all the work of combating white privilege and anti-Black racism. Resist in ways that are empowering and uplifting to you and your community.
For white people and non-Black people of color, address racism in your communities. Have the courage to speak out against it. Have a number of helpful resources at your fingertips that you can share with family and friends and community members. The best way to combat racism in unexpected moments is to be prepared. Be ready with a diversity of resources that can communicate to different audiences. It is important to be able to critically discuss both micro-aggressions and structural anti-Black racism.
Continue to educate yourself by reading the writings of anti-racist Black scholars and take notes of insights you can share with others and action steps you can develop. Commit to regularly reading on anti-Black racism. Consider starting a white or non-Black people of color discussion group to learn more about and strategize action against anti-Blackness.
Join a racial justice group and commit to being actively involved. This means offering financial support; taking on an organizing role; committing to showing up to actions; speaking out in your city council; voting for leaders that support anti-racist policies; sending letters or making phone calls with your legislators.
Identify concrete policy changes that can be made in your workplace, your educational institution, your social and recreational organizations, and your places of worship. Identify allies and work together to implement real changes.
Ask the institutions you are a part of to share their investment portfolios. Advocate to divest from private prisons (the Correctional Corporations of America).
Inquire about the hiring policies and board representation of Black people in your institutions. Advocate to expand representation. Advocate for meet your need admissions in your institution of higher education. Reach out to first-generation alumnae and ask them to support you in a formal petition to withhold support until meet your need policies are instituted. Reach out to your departments and demand that they hire Black and African American leaders.
Advocate to amplify Black voices. Support Black speakers and Black leaders at your community and organization’s events. Support the inclusion and centering of Black knowledge in your studies and consultations.
Actively support fair housing, transportations, and wages. Advocate for school funding in poor neighborhoods, demilitarizing schools, transferring police funds to needed social services, expanding funding for food access in Black neighborhoods. Get involved in your city’s budget through civic organization and advocacy. Register your friends and allies to vote for leaders who support Black lives. Support efforts against environmental racism. Support only credit unions that invest in Black housing and community. Identify Black businesses in your city and support them (this article is about two Holy Cross seniors putting together a list of Black-owned businesses in Worcester).