1 becomes 2

Sociology, anthropology departments split

After several decades of operating together, the anthropology and sociology departments have officially split into two departments.

“We felt that each side could accomplish more as separate units than as one unit,” said Rosalind Shaw, associate professor and chair of anthropology. “But we remain as friendly departments. We consult each other regularly and have some interdisciplinary programs.”

Each department has its own chair—Paula Aymer is the chair of sociology—but will continue to share office staff on the lower level of Eaton Hall. At present, the departments also continue to share a webpage.

“It’s just so much easier to make decisions and implement them…each side doesn’t have to fit through the other side’s decision-making process,” Shaw said. In addition, “students for a long time have told us they would prefer to have separate departments. It’s easier for students to conceptualize an intellectual identity if the departments are separate.”

The university hired its first anthropology faculty about 35 years ago. “It’s traditional to have [sociology and anthropology] together when anthropology is a new discipline,” Shaw said. “Intellectually, it’s not the best fit in the world.”