Community-Based Learning

Daina Harvey, associate professor of sociology, far right, teaches a Community-Based Learning course called Food, Beer and the Environment. The class worked at the Community Harvest Project in Grafton, Massachusetts. Daina Harvey, associate professor of sociology, far right, teaches a Community-Based Learning course called Food, Beer and the Environment. The class worked at the Community Harvest Project in Grafton, Massachusetts. 

Community-based learning is an important part of many courses in sociology and anthropology, connecting academic learning with civic engagement. Through projects or placements in community organizations, students bring academic theory to life while meeting community needs.

Learn more about community-based learning at Holy Cross.


  • Students from Professor Selina Gallo-Cruz’s Women and Nonviolence seminar interviewed Worcester women peace activists for the Worcester Women's History Project and presented their findings to the public; the interviews will become part of the permanent archive at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University.
  • Professor Daina Harvey's students in Cities and Environment developed a cookbook to help clients not familiar with U.S. foodways utilize food at Catholic Charity's food pantry. The cookbook included recipes, the location of farmers' markets and other food pantries, and information about the emergency food system. Students also volunteered at the food pantry and toured Community Harvest.
  • Professor Susan Crawford Sullivan's Leadership and Social Change seminar students embark on a variety of projects each year. Students have instituted a Thanksgiving meal drive for Nativity School students, worked on a “1000 Summer Youth Jobs” campaign, developed and led a leadership class for sixth graders at a local elementary school, and carried out many other projects.
  • Professor Ellis Jones's Consumer and Corporate Sustainability students publish their research in a smartphone app made available for the general public to understand more about the social and environmental track records of some of the most popular consumer product manufacturers.
  • Professor Alvaro Jarrin's Anthropological Perspective class examines the importance of local economies by carrying our research on small businesses in Worcester.

Department Honors Program

Department honors program students, from left, Hannah Tulinski, Keith Plummer '17, Hildie Hoeschen '17, Elena Ferguson '17, Alex Taurone '17 and Sara Newstein '17. Department honors program students, from left, Hannah Tulinski, Keith Plummer '17, Hildie Hoeschen '17, Elena Ferguson '17, Alex Taurone '17 and Sara Newstein '17. 

The department’s honors program is designed to enable qualified students to have an opportunity to devote a substantial portion of their senior year’s coursework to a research project, culminating in the writing of a thesis and the completion of an oral presentation, much in the style of a conference-paper presentation to an audience of faculty and students.

Honors students pursue an original research question developed in consultation with faculty. Thesis projects may vary from highly theoretical to heavily empirical; every thesis is expected to provide a critical overview of the relevant literature and engage in a rigorous analysis of the research question.

The program is limited to a small number of students annually. Admission is competitive and requires an application, transcript, and thesis proposal.

Decisions are made by the Department Honors Committee. Working with a faculty advisor, the accepted honors student will enroll in an independent study (Sociology 492/Anthropology 492) in the fall of the senior year and receive course credit while developing a thesis proposal, conducting original research, and drafting at least one chapter of the thesis. Students will then enroll in Sociology 493/Anthropology 493 in the spring to complete the thesis. Alternatively, a student participating in a senior seminar during the fall of the fourth year as preparation for the next semester’s thesis writing may petition the department for late inclusion in the Honors Program. All honors students will also be required to enroll in the department’s honors colloquium in both the fall and spring semesters (Sociology 490/Anthropology 490 in the fall; Sociology 491/Anthropology 491 in the spring; see details below).

A faculty advisor and a reader must agree by the end of the fall that the student has made sufficient progress toward completing the thesis to continue in the Honors Program. The student will present thesis work at the College Academic Conference held in mid-April and submit the approved written honors thesis no later than May 8. The Department Honors Selection and Review Committee will vote to award the student departmental honors for graduation.

Learn more about the Department Honors Program.

Senior Honors Theses 2017-18 and 2016-17

Elena Ferguson ’17, “A Different World: Exploring Race Through Travel Blogs”
Hildie Hoeschen ’17, “Call the Midwife?: A Comparative Analysis of Women's Lived Experiences of Childbirth Under the Care of a Midwife in the United States and United Kingdom”
Katelyn Lyons ’18, “Charitable Aims Versus Market Logics: Misrecognition in the Abby’s House Thrift Store”
Hannah Moore ’18, “The Right Fit: A Study of Clothing and the Construction of Identity at the College of the Holy Cross”
Sara Newstein ’17, “The Self, Authenticity and Postmodernity: Social Media Rejection”
Keith Plummer ’17, “Avowal and Queer Liberation: Discourse, Identity, and Social Change”
Brittany Pond ’18, “Institutional Roles, Logics, and Relationships in an Alzheimer’s Specialty Unit”
Alex Taurone ’17, “Aftermath of Genocide: Unraveling Blackboxes in the Guatemalan Civil War
Hannah Tulinski ’17, “Barbie as Cultural Compass: Embodiment, Representation, and Resistance Surrounding the World’s Most Iconized Doll”
Tanusha Yarlagadda ’18, “Lipstick, Blush and Liner: Tools of Liberation and Weapons of Destruction”

Honor Societies 

Student scholarship is recognized by the department in terms of students’ appointment to membership in Alpha Kappa Delta, the national honor society in sociology, or Lambda Alpha, the national collegiate honors society for anthropology.

Both societies promote human welfare through the advancement of scientific knowledge that may be applied to the solution of social problems. And both societies sponsor annual student paper contests, support students to present their original work at regional and national conferences.


Katelyn Lyons Anthropology honors student Katelyn Lyons ’18 presents her research at the annual Summer Research Symposium. 

The department encourages innovative student research on important social issues, both in the United States and abroad. Working collaboratively with faculty, students can apply for research opportunities during the regular academic year and in the summer. Students also have opportunities to present their original work at the annual Academic Conference, and sometimes at the annual meeting of a professional organization such as the American Sociological Association or American Anthropological Association. These opportunities help to prepare interested students for advanced graduate study.

Greisch Summer Research Fellowships

Created in 2010 with a $150,000 gift from Richard J. Greisch ’72 P99, the Greisch Summer Research Fellowship in sociology gives the College’s most motivated students a chance to conduct scholarly research during the summer months under the close direction of faculty members.

Study Abroad

Hana Carey ' 13 in Bali Hana Carey, '13, an anthropology major with an art history minor, and Martha Walters '14, an anthropology major and environmental studies double major, are pictured at a clothing shop in the arts town of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. They were there as part of a summer research fellowships doing ethnographic fieldwork on textiles for the 2013 Cantor Art Gallery exhibition, "Transnational Ikat: An Asian Textile on the Move." 

Majors in both anthropology and sociology are encouraged to spend a semester or year of study at one of Holy Cross’ many partner institutions in Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America or Africa. Almost a quarter of sociology and anthropology majors study abroad.

Anthropology students have recently conducted research in Indonesia and in Vietnam with Holy Cross faculty.

Learn more about the College’s study abroad program.