Skip to main content
Painting by Paul Gaugin

About Us

Sociology and Anthropology at URI is unique in a number of ways:

  • a close community of faculty with a broad spectrum of interests
  • three different degree programs each with the flexibility to meet individual interests
  • nationally and internationally known faculty who teach courses at all levels of the curriculum, from introductions to the field to senior seminars and independent study
  • exciting opportunities for experiential learning in criminal justice, archaeology, sustainable indigenous agriculture, coastal cultures and fisheries, human services, and more
  • supporting students through the provision of individual attention and personalized advising


What's Happening Now

Associate Professor Judy A. Van Wyk and Professor Emeritus of Psychology Lawrence C. Grebstein's new book Turning the Tide of Male Juvenile Delinquency: The Ocean Tides Approach was published in July 2015 by Springer Publishing Company. In this multidisciplinary book, the authors describe their study on 1,585 court adjudicated delinquent boys in RI who resided at the Ocean Tides School and Rehabilitation program between 1975 and 2006. The research highlights innovative and successful counseling and other rehabilitation strategies that are particularly effective for treating boys who have been victimized by family and other forms of violence, and are prone to their own violent behavior.


Associate Professor Barbara J. Costello's new book, "Peer Pressure, Peer Prevention: The Role of Friends in Crime and Conformity" will be published in Spring of 2016 (Routledge Press). Professor Costello's book, co-authored with Trina L. Hope of the University of Oklahoma, presents an analysis of the ways in which college students influence each other toward deviant behaviors like drinking, drug use, and crime. The book is also unique in its focus on "positive peer pressure," or the ways in which friends keep each other out of trouble and encourage prosocial behaviors.


Visiting Assistant Professor Hilda Llorens has recently published a new book, "Imaging the Great Puerto Rican Family". This is a ground-breaking study of images about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans between 1890 and 1990. It excavates the ways in which colonial power and resistance to it have shaped representations of Puerto Rico and it's people. The book calls attention to the national and global networks of which image makers have been part, and by which they have been influenced, and highlights the manners by which technologies of imaging and seeing have been prime movers as well as critics of modernity.


Carlos Garcia-Quijano (along with Tomas A. Carlo-Joglar, and Javier Arce-Nazario) will be publishing "Human Ecology of an 'Invasion': Interactions Between Humans and Introduced Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) in a Puerto Rican Estuary" in the prestigious journal, Human Organization in Spring 2011. That's the green iguana to the left, not Carlos.


Helen Mederer

Helen Mederer, is working with two URI colleagues, Dr. Barbara Silver (Schmidt Labor Research Center) and Dr. Emilija Djurdjevic (College of Business) on a U.S. Department of Labor grant to evaluate Rhode Island's new Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program. In 2014, Rhode Island was the third state in the country to establish a state-level paid family leave program, and the results of this grant are informing other state efforts as well as federal legislation for paid family leave. The United States is one of three countries worldwide not to offer paid leave for family caregiving, and interest in and rationale for such programs is steadily increasing.


News & Announcements


Donna Hughes, Carlson Professor of Gender and Women's Studies has accepted a joint appointment as Professor of Sociology. Professor Hughes is a leading international researcher on human trafficking. She has completed research on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Korea and also does research and writing on women's rights.


Dr. Pravin Patkar, a Fulbright Scholar from India will be in residence in Sociology and Anthropology during the 2015-16 academic year. The founder of Prerana, a center for women and children in Kamathipura - the largest red-light district in the world -- he written extensively on the topic of human trafficking. He has worked with victims of bonded labor (modern-day slavery) and prostitution and sex trafficking, and is an advocate for laws and policy that protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Dr. Patkar will be doing research and co-teaching courses with Professor Donna Hughes.


Julie Keller Julie C. Keller has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to URI, Professor Keller was a Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Oberlin College.


Rosaria Pisa has been appointed director of the Gender and Women's Studies program. Professor Pisa has conducted in-depth fieldwork in rural and urban Mexico since 1993. Her research has evolved from studying the impact of the privatization of communal land on community life to her current focus on the gender dynamics of local and organic farming.


URI Anthropology & History student, Morgan Breene, earns prestigious international award to continue her studies of underwater archaeological sites. For full article click here



For the second year in a row, an anthropologist has been awarded the University’s Early Career Research Award.

Associate Professor Holly Dunsworth received the 2014 award for her research comparing energy use in apes and other mammals with particular reference to how the energetics and metabolic parameters of pregnancy, fetal growth, infant growth, and lactation and how those determine the timing of birth in humans and other mammals. Kudos to Holly!!!

Department contacts

Department Chair
Leo Carroll,

Justice, Law & Society Minor Coordinator
Professor Leo Carroll,

Administrative Assistant
Theresa Nobile,