About the Department

Our department is one of the largest and most prestigious of its kind in Canada. The number of our faculty and the diversity of their interests allow us to cover a wide range of topical fields, theoretical approaches and geographic regions. In both disciplines, we offer the full range of academic programs, from BA to PhD. Our alumni can be found in all sectors of society, from government and developmental work, to arts and media. Many Canadian sociologists have begun their professional careers with a PhD from Carleton; in 2016, external reviewers called the Sociology doctorate program “a national treasure.”  Since 2009, with the inauguration of a PhD in anthropology, our department also contributes to the training of professional anthropologists.

Faculty and students in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University pursue a wide range of academic, community, and pedagogical interests. Both the Sociology and Anthropology programs are committed to social justice, critical thinking, and rigorous research and teaching. We help students develop skills for addressing social issues across a range of contexts. Research and courses within the department touch on citizenship, globalization, migration, cultural studies, gender and feminist theories, criminology, social movements, youth cultures, race and racialization, childhood studies, political economy, education, symbolism, rituals, colonialism, health, labour, development, Indigenous issues, environment, and language, to name only a few.

All members of our departmental community cherish the collegial atmosphere that has grown over the years. Last but not least, this atmosphere has to be credited to our excellent administrative staff, who not only go out of their way in supporting teaching and research activities, but always have an open ear for students’ questions and concerns. A social climate characterized by collegiality and helpfulness makes our department a pleasant place to work and study.


John Porter founded the Department of Sociology in 1950. It was the second such department in Canada, the first being McGill in 1925. Courses in Sociology and Anthropology were offered at the undergraduate level almost from Carleton’s beginning in 1942. The department was officially recognized as Sociology and Anthropology in 1968, and in 1970 the PhD in Sociology program was established. In 2009, we added a Ph.D. in Anthropology to our already well-established M.A. program.

The Two Disciplines

Our department is home to two disciplines, anthropology and sociology. While there are identifiable differences in approach and style of research, we prefer to stress the complementarity of our respective projects. Many of us work in interdisciplinary fields straddling, or crossing the lines between sociology and anthropology. Sociologists are conducting  fieldwork in other countries, anthropologists carry out ethnographic research in their own society. Inner-departmental collaborations in research and supervision of students are common.

Our students also benefit from the synergetic effects produced by our two disciplines. On the BA level, many program requirements can be fulfilled through either sociology or anthropology courses. This enlarges the range of choices and allows students to tailor their studies to their individual needs and interests. Our MA and PhD students are offered the opportunity to choose their advisory committees from both sides of the disciplinary fence, and often make use of it. We are also able to make use of our interdisciplinary approach to create student placements and internships with government departments such as Statistics Canada, Justice Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Health Canada among others, as well as with non-governmental organizations.

Photograph from the Heritage Photograph Collection, Archives and Research Collections, Carleton University Library