By JOHN WYATT – NEWS SECTION EDITOR
Current, the Anthropology/Sociology program underwent external review, with main questions focusing on whether or not to split the program into two majors and how to better organize the courses.
Dean of the College Stephanie Fabritius brought in peers from other colleges: Professor of Sociology at the College of Wooster Heather Fitz Given and Professor of Anthropology at Trinity University (Texas) Richard Reed, to conduct a review of the program.
The external review follows a self-study the program conducted all of last year, according to Chair of Anthropology/Sociology program Dr. Beau Weston.
“This allowed us to ask ourselves: what are the main issues we would like outside eyes looking at?” Dr. Weston said.
During their self-review, faculty talked to students and wrote to alumni to get their input on the program and gauge what could be improved.
One result of their self-study was the lack of distinction between the two fields among students.
“We were surprised that many students don’t know the difference between the two until they are well into the program,” Dr. Weston said.
Peer reviewers arrived on campus around Halloween and are currently working on a report, which the faculty expects to have by Thanksgiving.
“Reviewers met with every member of the program as well as students and other college officials, including [Current Chair of Division 2] Steve Beudoin, [Director of CTL] Sarah Lashley, and President Roush,” Dr. Weston said.
The dominant issue reviewers were asked to concentrate on was whether or not to split the two programs.
“That was one of the main focuses of the review,” Dr. Weston said.
One benefit of distinguishing between the majors is that it could allow the College to better track courses for students in each discipline.
As of now, the program does not have a firm required sequence because several majors are late declaring or study abroad, so it is difficult to have a concrete order of courses.
One aspect reviewers had to factor in is the current distribution of students within the program. There is a 2:1 ratio of anthropology students to sociology students, which maps the 4:2 ratio within the program’s faculty.
A second focus was on how the methods and theory classes are currently implemented in the program. As of now, there are five method courses and three theory courses among the two disciplines.
“One concern was that we have a lot of methods classes—how do we structure them?” Dr. Weston said.
While students and faculty still wait for the reviewers’ opinions on splitting the two programs, most seem to be against the split.
“I am inclined to be against it,” Dr. Weston said. “There are several places that have the two majors under one umbrella. While a minority, there are several students who like both majors.”
Dr. Weston said that while he was visiting other colleges to review their programs, he saw several that did split the two majors and feels that the two programs suffer.
“Transy’s is more divided than ours is,” Dr. Weston said. “They’re really two programs and because of that they lose the organic feel that we have here.”
Senior Claire Phillips, along with many other students, also shares Dr. Weston’s sentiment.
“Most of the students who talked to the reviewers were not in favor of the split,” Phillips said. “Having them tied together exposes you to courses you may not have otherwise considered. It also makes for a more diverse classroom if there is a mix of anthropology-leaning and sociology-leaning students.”
Though no report is available yet, the department already has a list of goals to improve the program in the future regardless of whether a split occurs.