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SOAN Professor Mary Moran puts “Ebola in Perspective”

By Chris Henke on October 9, 2014

SOAN’s local expert on West Africa, Professor Mary Moran, has coedited a series of analyses and responses to the Ebola crisis in the online version of the journal, Cultural Anthropology.  In the introduction to this series, Professor Moran and her coeditor, Daniel Hoffman, seek to put Ebola in context, both culturally and historically, and argue for the importance of a deeper understanding of the recent histories of countries such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in order to more effectively address the disease: “In the current epidemic, as in the violence that preceded it and in the long uncertain period to come, intervention and understanding are not separate. One is not possible without the other.”  Everyone has seen news reports about the recent Ebola epidemic, but these essays provide the background that you will not find in other media—take a look to learn more.

Professor Moran also gave a talk recently at Duke University on the potential political fallout for Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; you can read the text of her talk here.

Why major in Anthropology?

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on September 5, 2014

In contrast to other majors, students often come into Colgate with very little experience of anthropology (or sociology – but that’s the next article). So why study anthropology?

Think about some of the hot trends in business, politics, and education today:
• Internationalization and globalization
• Diversity, cross-cultural communication, and understanding
• Multi-disciplinary research and knowledge
All of these things are at the heart of anthropology, and they are what anthropologists have been doing for over a century.

Anthropology initially focused on studying foreign cultures, but for decades anthropologists have been using those techniques to study their own societies as well.

Anthropology is inherently interdisciplinary, designed to look deeply into societies across time and space. For example, archaeology focuses on material culture, making sense of the past, but also drawing connections to issues in contemporary societies. In general, anthropology examines how people think about family structures, economic systems, health and well-being, legal frameworks, food systems, body image, and media influences–to name just a few areas of inquiry.

As a result, anthropology provides students with the skills to meet the demands of an increasingly transborder world.

To learn more, see
This is Anthropology
“Anthropology: the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.” American Anthropological Association

Submitted by Professors Carolyn Hsu & Michelle Bigenho

Why major in sociology?

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on September 4, 2014

Before I went to college, I had never taken a class in sociology. This is pretty common for Colgate students as well. So why major in sociology? There are a lot of reasons, but here are a few:

  • Sociologists study social problems in order to understand them, and to make the world a better place. Some of our big topics are inequality, crime, poverty, immigration, and environmental change.
  • Sociologists study social change and how it is affecting people. The discipline that gives you the skills to study the rise of social media, for example, or the social effects of our changing economy.
  • Speaking of skills, sociology teaches students to be adept in both quantitative (statistical) and qualitative data analysis.

To learn more, see Why a Sociology Major?:

“[Sociology] provides students with the intellectual tools needed to make sense of the shifting and conflictual social world we live in, and this in turn permits them to contribute to solutions for the most difficult social problems that we face.”

—Daniel Little, Huffington Post

Carolyn Hsu
Associate Professor of Sociology

welcome back to SOAN! a note from the chair

By Chris Henke on August 27, 2014

Dear SOAN students,

Welcome back for another year at Colgate!  I hope you had a great summer and are excited about starting a new semester of courses and activities.  If you are studying off-campus this semester, I wish you the best during your time away from Colgate.  I will be serving again as department chair of SOAN this year, and I’m writing with some information to help you make the most of SOAN opportunities and events in the Fall 2014 term.  Please read on…

Read more

Two seniors’ perspectives on graduating as SOAN majors: Tess Christiansen and Hannah Fitton ‘14

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on May 5, 2014

photo2 resized

Being sociology and anthropology majors has definitely shaped our time at Colgate. For example, we recently co-presented a poster at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (SAA) in Austin, TX. For this blog post, we wanted to share our experiences, and offer advice for future and current SOCI & ANTH majors.

Both of us came to Colgate not planning on majoring in sociology or anthropology, but we changed our minds after taking Introduction to Sociology, Anthropology, and Archaeology in three consecutive semesters! This started our journey into exploring all aspects of being a SOAN major with an emphasis on archaeology and museum studies.

Read more

SOAN Awards!

By Chris Henke on April 29, 2014

This has been a big week for SOAN students and faculty, as our department brought in a number of major awards. On the student side, senior Evan Chartier won SOAN’s Award for Academic Excellence in Sociology and Anthropology, which is awarded to the SOAN major with the highest departmental GPA. SOAN’s other major award, the Ramshaw Service Award, is named for our departed colleague Warren Ramshaw, and recognizes outstanding community service and academic achievement; this year the Ramshaw Service Award was given to two SOAN seniors, Sarah Ebner and Shaina Kaplan.

Several other SOAN seniors also won other academic and community service awards this year, including Tess Christiansen, Hannah Fitton, Jessica HallSam Lee, Jennifer RiveraMarshall ScottMarvin Vilma, and Gillian Weaver. Evan Chartier actually won a BUNCH of awards, including Colgate’s most prestigious award for graduating seniors, the Colgate Alumni Corporation 1819 Award. Congratulations to all our student awardees—we are very proud of you and your accomplishments!

Two SOAN faculty were also honored this week with major distinctions. Professor Rhonda Levine won the 2014 French Prize for Inspirational Teaching, and Professor Mary Moran was named 2014 AAUP Professor of the Year. Congratulations—these recognitions are very well-deserved!


Evan Chartier, left, winner of the 2014 Award for Excellence in Sociology and Anthropology, Prof Chris Henke, center, and Sarah Ebner, right, winner of SOAN's Ramshaw Service Award.  Not pictured, Shaina Kaplan, winner of SOAN's Ramshaw Service Award.

Evan Chartier, left, winner of the 2014 Award for Excellence in Sociology and Anthropology, Prof Chris Henke, center, and Sarah Ebner, right, winner of SOAN’s Ramshaw Service Award. Not pictured, Shaina Kaplan, winner of SOAN’s Ramshaw Service Award.

SOAN Professor Mary Moran, left, winner of the 2014 AAUP Professor of the Year and Professor Rhonda Levine, winner of the 2014 French Prize for Inspirational Teaching.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Sociology or Anthropology?

By Chris Henke on April 22, 2014

Earlier this month, the SOAN Department held a Career Forum in Donovon’s Pub.  The forum featured a panel of four Colgate alumni and representatives of our Center for Career Services, including: Janice (Leadbetter) Bennett ’94, currently Associate Director for Marketing and Business Operations in the Department of Campus Recreation at Binghamton University, Jennifer Uribe ’13, Research Associate with MDRC in New York City, Jillian Arnault ’10, Alumni Engagement Coordinator with Colgate’s Center for Career Services, and Kelly Brant, a Career Advisor with Career Services.  

Each panelist spoke briefly on three key questions: What do they do now, how did they get there, and what advice would they give to other majors in anthropology or sociology?  If you missed the event, check out the YouTube video for their answers!

Are American Teenagers Getting More Promiscuous?

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on April 17, 2014

Hsu pix

One of the big areas of research in sociology is social problems. To me, one of the most interesting things about social problems is the difference between perception and reality. Often, people panic about problems that really aren’t that big – especially if they involve teenagers and sex. According to one organization, 90% of adults think that teen pregnancy is more important than any other problem facing America today. And the media is full of terrifying (to adults) stories about the rise of the hook-up culture.

Actually, teen pregnancy rate in the United States is less than half of what it was 20 years ago. And public health campaign about the cost of the “epidemic of teen pregnancy” may do more harm than good.

What about the hook-up culture? To learn more about teenage sexual behavior in general, check out this article on FiveThirtyEight.com: Are American Teenagers Getting More Promiscuous?

Carolyn Hsu
Associate Professor of Sociology

New SOAN Logo

By Chris Henke on April 15, 2014

After a long process of input, collaboration, and voting, SOAN has a new logo!


Developed with the help of graphic artist Lara Scott and some of our SOAN majors, you’ll see our new logo on our posters and other materials that we use to market SOAN events and information. One of the things I really like about the logo’s design is the large ampersand, which I think is symbolic of a few important things about our community of anthropologists and sociologists.

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Hokusai Says, a poem by Roger Keyes

By Chris Henke on April 15, 2014

This time of year, everyone is starting to get a little crazy. Final papers and exams loom just around the corner, so it’s a good time to get a little wisdom and perspective. Prof Spadola shared this poem with me last week, which references legendary Japanese painter Hokusai. Hokusai is known for his paintings of Mount Fuji and his iconic painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Enjoy…

HOKUSAI SAYS (by Roger Keyes)

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive -
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.