Welcome to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology! One of the things we aim to teach our students here in sociology and anthropology is writing with a specific audience in mind. We also encourage our students to bring their own perspective into their writing, using “I” instead of more impersonal, anonymous forms. The idea behind this is to acknowledge that all knowledge comes from somewhere, is produced and transmitted by someone. Sociology and anthropology are the disciplines that regard this “perspectivity” as part of knowledge itself.
When I apply this insight to my task of writing a welcome message as chair, several questions arise: who is my audience, who am I speaking for, and am I justified to speak for them in the manner that I do?
To begin, let me say that I think that these are very important questions in today’s world: Ever increasing diversification and technologization make it more and more difficult for people to reach a consensus between their social and individual perspectives. Therefore, when I think of you as my audience, I want to congratulate you: you have come to the right place to find, maybe not definite answers, but tools to deal with the complexity of the world in which we live. (By this I mean of course, the department and its many programs, and not this message here. But reading the website is a first step, so well done!). I and my colleagues, we hope to see you in one of our many interesting courses, and, if you are not already a major, perhaps you will end up majoring in sociology or anthropology, or even pursue an MA or PhD with us.
I think I am justified speaking for all of us, when I say that the world in which we live has become challenging in recent years: we are still reeling in the aftermath of the Pandemic; the smell of burning woods and weekly tornado warnings bring climate change very close to home; and AI makes us question our human uniqueness and even reality itself. Sociologists and anthropologists address these problems from the perspective of society and culture: they concern humans as living in collectivities with particular, diverse ways of meaning making. The problems confronting us in the world today can only be solved when this social and cultural dimension is taken into account (and if you feel that “solving the world’s problems” is a little too ambitious for you: to really understand that other people see the world in terms quite different from your own, and that they have their reasons for that, is a useful skill for your whole life). In our courses, our instructors tackle these and many other pressing issues, working together with students on the basis of their deep expertise and cutting-edge research. They do so making use of a great range of methods, from statistical analysis to fieldwork; and they employ a wide variety of media, not just academic texts, but also blogs, videos and even graphic novels.
For sociology and anthropology, understanding the world is inseparable from changing it. Many of our faculty are also practicing activism for social justice causes: they speak and write against racism, colonialism and discrimination; they work in projects on prison reform or affordable housing. Their social engagement becomes part of their teaching, for example, in the courses composing our new Minor in Community Engagement. Our students can also take advantage of various placement and co-op opportunities. To learn sociology and anthropology means to go where society and culture are happening; in the process, you can establish contacts and acquire skills that are useful in a wide range of professional fields. As a social space, our department is friendly and welcoming, thanks to our knowledgeable and supportive administrative staff. I invite you cordially to visit us in person on 7th floor of Loeb Building (my own office is Loeb C 775, please feel free to drop in whenever the door is open). After more than 3 years of pandemic and teaching/learning online, the coming academic year marks a transition to a “new normality”. We have yet to figure out what that should be. I think I speak for the majority of my colleagues when I say that physical presence and face-to-face encounters should remain the foundation of university education even after the pandemic. Perhaps we can find a way to preserve the flexibility and accessibility that we have come to cherish in the last three years while also strengthening the social connections that are an essential part of our humanity.
We are looking forward to seeing you in sociology and anthropology!
Carleton's Department of Sociology and Anthropology includes nearly 40 faculty members in Anthropology and Sociology, an outstanding team of contract instructors who add to our diverse expertise, active professors emeriti and distinguished research professors, over 40 adjunct professors and adjunct research professors, and postdoctoral and visiting scholars.
Our teaching staff are supported by an excellent team of graduate student teaching assistants. Many of our graduate students are profiled here.
All members of the Department are supported by a friendly administrative staff.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
B750 Loeb Building
1125 Colonel By Drive
email@example.comPhone: 613-520-2582Contact page