Message from the Chair

Welcome to Northeastern’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology! We represent a vibrant intellectual community, and have taken a prominent place among the nation’s leading social science departments. We offer challenging programs of study at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels, and our faculty energetically engage the most pressing social issues of our time, from global warming and toxic wastes to questions involving urban poverty, civil rights, gender inequality, and transnational activism. Read on for an overview of some of our recent accomplishments.

Given the current economic climate, many institutions of higher education have been forced to retrench, and social science units have often suffered sharp budget cuts. Our Department’s experience contrasts sharply with such downsizing, for we have enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth. With support from the central administration, our Department has been home to a growing number of full-time, tenured and tenure track faculty members who make contributions to graduate and undergraduate programs across the university. Our Department has grown by roughly 50 per cent since 2008, as we’ve been privileged to welcome new faculty members from the most prominent universities in the nation. Such growth has enabled us greatly to expand our course offerings, providing a wide array of choices for undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Our undergraduate programs in both sociology and cultural anthropology offer rigorous, provocative coursework dealing with some of the most challenging questions that faced by developed and developing societies alike. Especially given our university’s strengths in experiential education, students can elect to pursue meaningful careers in education, community-based organizations, government, business, and non-governmental organizations. Our roster of alumni is filled with young men and women who embark on a wide array of professional pursuits in public health, environmental policy, urban planning, and social justice organizations.

Likewise, our Master’s and PhD programs provide advanced training for students eager to pursue academic and policy careers. The PhD program offers a breadth of curricular choices that few programs can match, with areas of concentration in the study of gender inequality, globalization, urban sociology, environmental health and social inequality generally.

The Department enjoys strong connections to multiple research centers and Institutes around the university (and beyond). Phil Brown, a University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences, directs the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, which provides training for PhD students interested in medical sociology and the sociology of the environment. Brown is the author of No Safe Place: Toxic Waste, Leukemia, and Community Action, a book that opened up new conceptions regarding the conduct of epidemiological research. His most recent book, Toxic Exposures: Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement, traces the effort by ordinary citizens to reshape the way medical doctors think about and treat disease.

The Department also boasts strong connections to Women’s and Sexuality Studies. Suzanna Walters is a Professor of Sociology and the Director of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Walters’ work is commentator on these issues for the media. Her forthcoming book, The Tolerance Trap: What’s Wrong with Gay Rights (NYU Press) explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. Walters’ previous book, All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America (University of Chicago Press, 2001), examined the explosion of gay visibility in culture and politics over the past 15 years and raised pressing questions concerning the politics of visibility around sexual identity.

Globalization is one of the signature strengths of our Department, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Faculty have substantial expertise in the study of transnational processes. Liza Weinstein is expert in the study of global studies, and is author of a forthcoming ethnography of Mumbai. Jeff Juris is a prominent scholar studying resistance to corporate forms of globalization. And Valentine Moghadam is Professor of Sociology and Director of the International Affairs Program, the largest major in our college.

The Department offers many points of excellence that will be of interest to students at various levels of study. Our undergraduates greatly benefit by engaging in collaborative research with faculty members. Graduate Students engage in journal publication, positioning themselves for academic and policy careers. For more information about our undergraduate program, please point your browser here. For information about our graduate program, click here. And feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Best wishes

Steven Vallas, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair