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.


  • Professor Doug Bafford's Anthropology of Law students attended BAR None's workshops on CORI background checks and consumer reports to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the workshop as well as support Bar None's work with their clients. BAR None is a program of Dismas House, an organization that provides resources, support, and community to former prisoners.
  • Professor Daina Harvey's Cities and Environment students developed a cookbook to help clients not familiar with U.S. foodways utilize food at Catholic Charities' food pantry. The cookbook included recipes, the location of farmers' markets and other food pantries, and information about the emergency food system. 
  • Professor Susan Crawford Sullivan's Leadership and Social Change students develop a community organizing project on campus and/or with community partners. Past projects include instituting a Thanksgiving meal drive for Nativity School students, creating a “1000 Summer Youth Jobs” campaign, developing and leading a leadership class for sixth graders at a local elementary school, and more.
  • Professor Renée Beard's Aging and Society students partnered with TimeSlips Creative Storytelling and St. Mary Health Care Center to put on weekly storytelling sessions with St. Mary residents experiencing memory loss. Students then created shadow puppet shows based on the stories they co-created with St. Mary residents. St. Mary held a screening of the shadow puppet shows for their residents at the end of the semester.

Department Honors Program

sociology honor students

Department honors program students, from left,  Aiden Rupert, Brianna Cummings, Thuy Nguyen, Ellen Rogers, Professor Renee Beard, Christine Dapaah-Afriyie, Claire D’Atomma and Kathryn Hauver  

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 2022

  • Brianna E. Cummings '22, "Linking Enslavement & Foster Care"
  • Christine O. Dapaah-Afriyie ’22, “#sexualassaultonthehill”
  • Claire M. D'Attoma ’22, “Third Culture Parents”
  • Kathryn O. Hauver ’22, "Emotion work of Hospice Careers"
  • Thuy T. Nguyen ’22, “End of life decision-making”
  • Ellen Rodgers ’22, “Family life and Covid-19”
  • Aidan P. Ruppert ’22, “Music, Status, & Society”

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

grace miller

Sociology majors Grace Miller, '23 (right) and Ayanna Bloschichak, '23 (second from left) are pictured here with Jany Gonzalez, '22 (left) and Samantha Marzi, '23 (second from right) at the Cliffs of Moher while studying abroad in Ireland.  Photo by Grace Miller.

janelle clancy

Janelle Clancy ‘24, Location: Galway, Ireland

Last fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Galway, Ireland. While studying at the
University of Galway, I was able to take a variety of courses in sociology and related fields,
many of which examined topics specific to Irish society. One course, Marginalized Children’s
Groups in Ireland, explored varying categories of youth experiencing marginalization in some
way. I studied children living in poverty, residential care, and migrant communities, children of
ethnic minorities and with disabilities, and children who identify as LGBTQIA+. This course
involved a service learning component, which allowed me to gain first-hand experience with
Irish youth. Every week, I visited Scoil Chroí Íosa, an elementary school in Galway serving
students of varying backgrounds, learning abilities, and language proficiencies in the classroom.
Experiencing a school culture that was different from my experiences in the United States, while
simultaneously learning about marginalized groups, was extremely eye-opening for me as a
sociology major. Beyond my classroom experiences, I deeply enjoyed exploring the country of
Ireland, and finding ways to connect my travels with my studies. Observing how people
interacted, communicated, and lived in different areas— and comparing this to American life
back home— provided me insight into the ways our environment impacts us as social beings.
My study abroad experience was truly transformational, and I am grateful to have been granted the opportunity during my college career.

Majors in sociology and majors and minors in anthropology 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. Students can count up to four courses from abroad toward their major or minor in the department.

Learn more about the College’s study abroad program.