Sociology & Anthropology

Anthropologists study what it means to be human from past to the present day. Anthropologists want to know how humans evolved, the commonalities among humans and also, the extent of their diversity. They are curious about how humans adapt to physical and social environments and how they use symbols, or language, to interact.

At Richmond, students primarily study cultural anthropology, which is the study of living cultures. Cultural anthropology is the largest field of specialty among others like archeology (the study of extinct cultures), anthropological linguistics (the study of language among cultures) and physical anthropology (the study of evolution). Today cultural anthropology itself has subdivided into a number of narrow specialties such as economic anthropology, environmental anthropology, medical anthropology, legal anthropology and political anthropology. Regardless of their area of interest, anthropology students will find that their Richmond education provides a strong base from which to advance as their interests solidify.

Sociologists study social life in order to understand the causes and consequences of human action. If anthropology is the study of people, then sociology is the study of how they spend their lives. Sociologists investigate everyday life issues like how families affect people as they grow up and make choices for themselves, how people are accepted (or not accepted) into a group, environments in which people feel comfortable and productive, how people are treated by other members of society, and how issues of diversity affect the way people think and behave.

Students who study sociology gain unique insight into the social world through classes in social stratification, ageing, gender roles, race and ethnicity. Other courses confront issues that face modern societies—issues like family, education, religion, urban life, health care, deviant behavior and the environment. When students graduate with a degree in sociology, they take with them an understanding of how the social world operates.

After College

Sociology and anthropology students are well prepared for a variety of interesting and rewarding careers. Some students choose to experience other cultures and social groups first hand by working internationally through NGOs, the Peace Corps or domestically through programs like Match Corps. Others find that the skills they’ve acquired through the major lend themselves to careers in law, public health, urban planning, social work, education or health administration. And still others pursue graduate work in their field of interest, often narrowing their focus based on the experiences they enjoyed at Richmond.