Department Overview

Students pursuing a major in sociology and anthropology (SOAN) are members of an enthusiastic community of peers and faculty dedicated to the study of the social and cultural processes that shape our contemporary world. The SOAN major invites students to join in the critical investigation of a wide range of intersecting global processes including: capitalism, migration, technological transformation, environmental degradation, colonialism and its legacies, secularism and religious revitalization, violence and suffering, human rights politics, nationalism, and advertising.

We attend to these processes both in their global scope and their concrete manifestations in regions such as Asia, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East. Learning how these processes are understood through classical and contemporary social theory, students are encouraged to apply sociological and anthropological analysis in independent research projects, from their first introductory course to a capstone senior thesis project. As a result, SOAN majors graduate with well-developed research, writing, and analytical skills.

The department builds on the overlapping interests and distinctive strengths of our two disciplines, sociology and anthropology, which share a focus on inequality and power across race, gender, class, and other forms of social difference. Rather than establishing separate tracks in the two fields, the department follows an integrated curriculum dedicated to the theories and methodologies that bring the disciplines into dialogue. Students begin by taking one introductory course, either in sociology or anthropology, that invite consideration of the broad theoretical concerns and methods that link the two disciplines. The core major requirements also include the selection of two methods courses in which students engage with a repertoire of qualitative and quantitative approaches. These courses permit a more sophisticated understanding of course materials and provide a foundation for independent research, culminating with the senior thesis project. Another core course, SOAN 300, grapples with social theory as it operated across which both anthropology and sociology. The five electives that complete the SOAN major allow students to select from topics, regions, and theoretical issues at the heart of sociological and anthropological investigation in the twenty-first century. Many SOAN students also pursue minors in related departments and interdisciplinary programs, including Gender Studies, Political Economy, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Latin American Studies, and East Asian Studies.

The SOAN experience is characterized by numerous opportunities for independent and collaborative student research under the supervision of faculty mentors. We encourage students to explore opportunities for internships, practicums, and independent studies in consultation with faculty advisors, instructors, and the office of Student Leadership and Service. Many SOAN students participate in overseas programs, which enrich understandings of global processes, foster in-depth study of global regions, and provide opportunities for senior thesis research. The SOAN department helps students secure financial support for local and international research projects through funding sources that have included: SAAB, The Dinah Dodds Endowment, The Fowler-Levin Summer Internship Award, and Faculty-Student Summer Research Collaboration grants.

After graduating from Lewis & Clark, SOAN majors have been admitted to masters and doctoral programs in sociology, anthropology, public policy and planning, medicine and nursing, social work and counseling, teaching and education. SOAN students have also received Fulbright awards, which support English teaching and independent research abroad.


Examples of internships that SOAN majors have participated in include:
  • Studied techniques to recruit and motivate volunteers at the Sierra Club.
  • Worked as a staff member at Our New Beginnings, a halfway house for women in the criminal justice system.
  • Cataloged materials in Japan collection at the Museum of Natural History, New York.
Examples of student research
  • “Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development in the Chinese Tourism Industry”
  • “Power Over Space: Race Talk at Lewis & Clark College ”
  • “Decolonizing the Screen: Indigenous Videography in Southern Mexico”
  • “Colonialism, Methodology, and Water Rights on the Yukon”