Sociology / Anthropology


Sociology searches for the “public issues” that underlie “private troubles”, while anthropology studies the ways culture influences human life and society. Though sociology and anthropology are two distinct academic fields, they comprise one major at St. Olaf College. Combining the two disciplines allows students to explore the world in a fresh, more complex way. Our courses and scholarship examine social structures like colonialism, racism, education, health care, urban policy, gender, class, and religion. We explore how they produce both meaning for human beings and profound social inequities. Students learn how academic research itself addresses social problems and at times exacerbates them. Our departmental curriculum combines sociological and anthropological approaches, both in terms of theories and hands-on research projects. By doing so, we help students think like sociologists and anthropologists, as a means of better understanding the strengths and limits of academic work. For more on the major or the department, contact our department chair Chris Chiappari or administrative assistant Jessica VanZuilen.

Department offices, located in newly renovated Holland fourth and fifth floor.

Check out blog posts about SOAN made by majors and alumni applying their learning all over the world and right here on the Hill.

What does a SOAN major do?
There’s qualitative and quantitative research done at the institution and plenty of dense theories to unpack! A SOAN major takes on race, class, and gender in a multicultural platform and studies human society in all of its complexities.