The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Marshall University offers a supportive environment for undergraduate and Masters level students who wish to pursue training in anthropology and sociology. Our accomplished faculty place a strong emphasis on teaching and mentoring while also striving to maintain an active research agenda. The curriculum is designed to provide our students with a wide range of options in pursuit of their academic and professional goals and interests, while also providing solid training in core foundations of the two disciplines. Students learn both qualitative and quantitative research methods and are exposed to a variety of subfields and theoretical perspectives.
Faculty core strengths include: social movements and social change, language, gender, race, inequality, stratification, cultural diversity, social interaction and group processes, migration, globalization, environmental health, social institutions (religion, family, work and occupations, health care, politics and the economy), gerontology, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and advanced statistical analysis.
We are a combined department of the allied social sciences of anthropology and sociology that each and together provide a 21st Century education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences.
Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.
The broad goals of liberal education have been enduring even as the courses and requirements that comprise a liberal education have changed over the years. Today, a liberal education usually includes a general education curriculum that provides broad learning in multiple disciplines and ways of knowing, along with more in-depth study in a major.
Every month the Gallup Poll asks a representative sample of Americans “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” The main problems identified include jobs, unemployment, the economy, health care, and race relations. Issues such as these have clear social, behavioral, and economic aspects that need to be better understood, and social, behavioral and economic research can contribute to understanding and addressing them. Moreover, many other problems that at first glance appear to be issues only of medicine or engineering or computer science have social and behavioral components, such as patients’ understanding of medical information and community responses to proposed highway development.
The word anthropology itself tells the basic story. From the Greek anthropos (“human”) and logia (“study”), it is the study of humankind, from its beginnings to the present day. Nothing human is alien to anthropology. Indeed, of the many disciplines that study our species, Homo sapiens, only anthropology seeks to understand the whole panorama—in geographic space and evolutionary time—of human existence. Though easy to define, anthropology can be difficult to describe. Its subject matter is both exotic (e.g., star lore of the Australian aborigines) and commonplace (anatomy of the foot). Its focus is both sweeping (the evolution of language) and microscopic (the use-wear of obsidian tools). Anthropologists may study ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, the music of African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of a U.S. car manufacturer. But always, the common goal links these vastly different projects: to advance knowledge of who we are, how we came to be that way—and where we may go in the future.
Sociology is a social science involving the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies as well as our behavior as social beings, covering everything from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. It is also a scientific study of social aggregations, the entities through which humans move throughout their lives’ and may be considered an overarching unification of all studies of humankind, including history, psychology, and economics.