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Painting by Paul Gaugin

Student Learning Outcomes

Our degree programs are designed to produce graduates who can engage the world thoughtfully, critically, and creatively. Our hope is that the coursework we require will not only provide a solid base of anthropological or sociological knowledge and a set of skills to collect and evaluate information, but also that our assignments, readings, and classroom discussions will foster a sense of engagement as citizens committed to making the world more humane and liveable.

More specifically, each of our programs has articulated a set of learning outcomes for students. These outcomes are the basis for our on-going assessment of the effectiveness of our courses and our curricula.

Student Learning Outcomes in Sociology

By the time of graduation, sociology majors should be able to:

1. Describe the role of culture and social structure in shaping individual lives and be able to provide and recognize examples of this process

2. Describe the nature of United States society along major institutional axes (family, education, religion, etc.) in a comparative global framework.

3. Explain the effects of race, class, gender and other forms of difference on life chances and be able to provide at least three significant examples of these effects. In addition, students should be able to recognize the effects of difference at individual, institutional, and cultural levels.

4. Frame a sociological question of some public significance and outline a process by which the question posed might be empirically answered.

5. Locate sources of sociologically relevant information and make informed judgments about the reliability and credibility of available data.

6. Translate publicly available data (census data, polling data, etc.) into discursive English to highlight in a theoretically informed way trends and relationships between variables.

7. Read literary and non-quantitative accounts of human life in order to draw conclusions regarding their sociological significance and their value as evidence in sociological inquiries.

8. Employ broad sociological theory (what Mills calls "usable sociological traditions") to provide an original analysis of current circumstances in some sphere of society.

Student Learning Outcomes in Anthropology

By the time of graduation, anthropology majors should be able to:

1. Describe the breadth of anthropology and be able to characterize the range of anthropology's distinctive philosophical and methodological approaches with respect to other disciplines within the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development and centrality of the "four-field approach" in American anthropology, with the ability to define each subdiscipline's contributions to the whole.

3. Explain the basic processes of biological evolution and specifically, describe the evidence for humankind’s descent from apes and the subsequent course of human evolution.

4. Describe modern human biological diversity and articulate an informed position on the question of biological races of humans.

5. Demonstrate a scientific understanding of the development and operation of contemporary ethnic/cultural variation in humans, including an appreciation of ethical concerns arising from that variation.

6. Demonstrate the ability to think holistically and comparatively in describing human life-ways using non-ethnocentric methods.

7. Demonstrate knowledge of the wide range of past and present human biocultural systems, including ecological relationships, social and cultural organization, and ideology (belief systems).

8. Assess the relative advantages and disadvantages of using archaeology as a method for elucidating culture history.

9. Understand the place of research in the development and evaluation of scientific theories in general and anthropological theory in particular.

10. Understand the importance of the mental-behavioral and emic-etic distinction in anthropological research and theory building.

11. Comprehend different research methodologies, their strengths and limitations as applied to anthropological research questions.

12. Be able to understand the use of quantitative methods in the analysis of data from all four sub fields of anthropology and have the ability to evaluate the use and misuse of analyses of quantitative data in anthropological research.

13. Articulate anthropological insights into contemporary issues of multiculturalism and diversity with reference to both past and present human biological and ethnic or cultural variation.

14. Apply ethical principles to the conduct of anthropological research and the applications of its findings.

15. Articulate an extensive and detailed awareness of the great variation in human biocultural adaptations worldwide and the implications of this variation for present-day human interactions.



News & Announcements

New Faculty in Sociology:

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.


Early Career Faculty Research Award

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

Assistant 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,