Posted by: soanstolaf | April 15, 2015

News and Clips – Changing Relations With Cuba

Cuba has long been a curious political situation for the United States, and culturally important as the Cuban population has grown over the years. Now, with diplomatic relations reinstated, what changes to our nations and cultures will we see?

Airbnb, a new form of tourism, has moved into Cuba. A Latin American Studies professor talks about why it’s a smart business move, and what it might mean for cultural exchanges between the two nations.

With Presidential election talk underway, there’s discussion about the Cuban voting base in Florida. Traditionally Republican, sociologist Guillermo Grenier says that the political position of the community is changing.

Fashion is not exempt from the effects of political actions. The place of Cuba in fashion designers imaginations is significant, and these political and possible cultural shifts will most likely be reflected on the runways.

Also important to consider is the development of Cuba, both economic and in infrastructure. The difficulty of getting internet, for example, is often a hindrance to those who want to start businesses or work in the technology field.

While Havana is the most famous city and the Capital of Cuba, the city of Santiago, located in the eastern part of the country, provides a different perspective on life in Cuba. AP photographer Ramon Espinosa’s photos give an insight into the city.

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 13, 2015

Student Research Presented!

Seniors Madison Goering and Evan Davis presented their research from this past summer at the Central States Anthropological Society conference this past weekend. If you see them around, ask them about it!

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 13, 2015

Lydia Peterson Senior Profile

Senior Lydia Peterson declared a Sociology/Anthropology major after having taken very few classes in the major. She took Introduction to Sociology, and “I really have to credit that for my being in the major because it was one of the only classes I took before I declared the major.” What attracted her to it was the class format and feeling. “I enjoyed the discussions and how interesting the class discussions were. I had never taken a class up to that point that had such interesting class discussions and really pertained to life…it really opened my eyes to structures that are in place and things that were going on in the world that weren’t quite right that I had never really thought about before.” Unlike many of her peers, Peterson didn’t take her Intro to Sociology class until her sophomore year, and thus joined the major a bit later, but has had no trouble finishing and getting all her credits. Nor was the decision to add the major totally based on her impression from one class. “Before I declared the major” she explains “I looked at what the requirements were, and what types of classes I would be taking, and what the foundation or core classes were, and it all sounded really interesting.”

Lydia Peterson, Class of 2015

Lydia Peterson, Class of 2015

Now, as a senior, Peterson will be graduating with a degree in Sociology/Anthropology and says that completing the major has greatly affected how she sees the world. “I think it’s definitely made me more aware of similarities and differences with different cultures and it’s made me think more about the different perspectives of other cultures as well.”

Unlike many of her peers, Peterson chose to do a domestic off-campus study program (similar to fellow senior major Carly Tsuda). This past interim Peterson went on an education class where she worked at a school in the Twin Cities, where she was placed in a kindergarten classroom.  “That’s the thing about Sociology/Anthropology; you don’t have to go to an exotic country to find it. It can be just in the Cities.” She notes that because of her sociology/anthropology training, she was able to see many of the racial and class issues occurring in the school and community.

She encourages other students to consider the major, but laughingly warns them to “be prepared for a lot of reading and a lot of writing.” She notes that “it’s not a lot of memorization of facts” but rather critical thinking and “coming to terms with new ideas and your own ideas.” The classes, she says, aren’t “your typical lecture classes, they’re more conversational” just like that first class that attracted her to the major. This quality, she says, has developed her conversation participation skills. “It keeps you on your toes during the class time, and it makes the class worth your time.” Unlike in classes with low student participation rates, in So/An classes, with their emphasis on discussion, “your time seems to be more about you.”

If you want to contact Lydia Peterson, you can reach her at

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 13, 2015

Corinne Dickey Senior Profile

Corinne Dickey came to St. Olaf unsure of her major. “I was originally a Psych major, Music ed., possibly, all over the place” she laughs. After finding the Psychology wasn’t the best fit, and enjoying the Introduction to Sociology course she took, she changed her major, officially declaring second semester of her sophomore year, “because I was gone first semester.”

That first semester and interim of sophomore year she did the Global Semester abroad. “I had kind of decided to be a So/An major but hadn’t totally declared yet. And I went as a sophomore, which is younger than usual. I was the baby. But the perspective I had learned in Intro really enhanced really taking in cultures and meeting people, and kind of guided what questions I would ask people.” During the course, they also took a sociology course in Korea, which also strengthened her interest in the major.

Corinne Dickey, Class of 2015

Corinne Dickey, Class of 2015

She also explains how Sociology/Anthropology helped her develop a curriculum while interning and teaching at a school in India “figuring out how to go about that and work with students and teachers from a different culture”.

The So/An major, she says has “given me a broader perspective” on the world and “helps me see things more clearly when I’m learning about a new culture.” It also, she says, makes her more curious about the world around her.

One thing she says she appreciates most about the major, however, is the focus on “life-long practice rather than just something that applies to a job”. Every professor, Dickey says, has given advice more on how to view the world rather than how to have a specific career. “I’ve really enjoyed that advice.”

As a student, she says she’s learned how important it is to “keep an open mind and do the readings, because they’re really interesting anyway, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t.” Participating and being attentive in discussions is also important, and she recommends paying attention to professors and asking them about their experiences “because they all have awesome experiences.”

The Minneapolis native is looking to move away after graduation, although she does say “I love Minnesota with all my heart and soul”. She relishes, however, the opportunity to live somewhere new and learn a new culture and place. Travel abroad is also a possibility. She jokes that the So/An major has allowed her to “travel without spending money to travel” because of the opportunity to learn about so many different parts of the world.

Though she will be graduating in just a few short weeks, Dickey says she has really enjoyed being a major. “I love our department.” She may end up anywhere from Oregon to France, but she will take with her the perspective and lessons from the Sociology/Anthropology major.

If you have questions for Corinne, you can contact her at

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 10, 2015

Josiah Mosqueda Senior Profile

“Do you know the show Stargate?” Josiah Mosqueda laughs, as he begins to explain what first sparked his interest in Sociology/Anthropology. The science fiction show features a character who is an archaeologist and anthropologist who studies the alien life forms encountered by the characters. “I’ve always loved deconstructions of culture from a young age and so it was kind of through Stargate that I realized I wanted to do something that has to do with culture and people. It was in high school where I was looking at careers that engaged those interests and I found anthropology and then I found St. Olaf!” Mosqueda took his first Sociology/Anthropology course first semester of his freshman year, and knew that he had chosen the right major, although he waited to officially declare the major until his sophomore year.

Senior Josiah Mosqueda

Senior Josiah Mosqueda

The actual study of sociology/anthropology, he admits, is very different from his early perception via Stargate. Moreover, the major has changed his perception on the world. Ideas such as love as a universal and inherent part of the human experience, he explains, were shattered by learning about anthropological theories and understandings of constructs. “It shattered my ideas in the best way possible” he says. “I actually really loved that breaking of the wall – it was kind of like in The Matrix.”

Also a Women and Gender studies major, Mosqueda has held leadership positions in several campus gender and sexuality organizations, including working briefly with the Gender and Sexuality Center and as a leader of Gay Lesbian or Whatever (GLOW). Last year he lived in the STOQSO Honor house. He is also the Teaching Assistant this semester for the So/An course “LGBTQA+ Lives and Issues” with Professor LaFlamme. “I’ve always been really interested in gender and how different cultures perceive gender” he explains, describing how his two majors connect and interact.

He is also a Middle Eastern Studies concentrator, leading to study abroad in Jordan last year, an experience he says strengthened his experience in the So/An major, as it gave him experience in a new culture and place.

As a young activist, Mosqueda explains how the So/An major has taught him when and how different forms of activism are appropriate, and given him the framework to understand the issues he is involved in. As part of his LGBTQ community activism, he helped push for greater awareness of Preferred Gender Pronouns on campus, including writing a statement for professors to use in their syllabi.

Post-graduation he has a job with the Minnesota Alliance with Youth, an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for students around the state. He has been placed at a high school, where he will work with about 35 juniors and seniors, mentoring them and advocating for them, with the goal of helping them graduate on time.

His advice for younger St. Olaf students interested in the major is simple: “take it. You won’t regret taking the major.” For him, the major “has been life-altering. I think it’s a very relevant field and versatile field.”

If you have questions for Josiah, you can reach him at

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 8, 2015

Articles and News: Education Issues

Students at elite campuses are beginning discussions about income inequality and first generation college student status. Note how sociology played a role in helping at least one student see the issues around her and understand her personal experiences.

Leadership is a key component of most resumes or graduate school applications, as any number of seniors can tell you. But how is leadership taught? Can it even be taught? These are questions being raised as our society shifts to a focus on leadership rather than management.

Schools and students are being affected by the influx of immigrants from Central America. One NPR article looks at how a New Orleans school is adapting to these potentially temporary students.

What does the closing of Sweet Briar College suggest about the situation of all-female schools in the United States? How can we understand this given the changing gender demographics in higher education?

How do schools manage what news or information their students consume, in the age of the internet? One student evaded school censorship by posting on the internet.

New studies suggest that many college presidents don’t see sexual assault as common or a big problem on their campuses, despite national statistics pointing to it being a major issue across the nation. The reason for the disconnect, however, isn’t clear.

Posted by: soanstolaf | April 8, 2015

Welcome Back from Break!

Hope you all had a wonderful spring break, and are ready and refreshed for the rest of the semester.

We have some exciting department news! Professor Ibtesam Al Atiyat has been accepted to teach at a University in Qatar during her sabbatical next year. If you see her, say congratulations!

Also, a group of 13 students attended the Midwest Sociological Society meeting March 26-28 in Kansas City with Professors Sheppard and Nordstrom-Loeb, where they presented research done during last semesters SOAN 371 course. If you see them around, ask about their research!

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 25, 2015

Carly Tsuda Senior Profile

Carly Tsuda arrived freshman year to the hill believing she would be a Sociology/Anthropology major. But during her freshman year, knowing she wanted to work in non-profits, she switched to Economics, thinking “I have to be a business person!” Once in the Economics major however, it became very clear that she was not meant to be an Econ major. “So I sort of doubled back into Sociology” she explains.

Tsuda is also an American Studies major. “The American Studies major is in a lot of ways sort of an American cultural studies major, so there’s a lot of reflecting on American culture and examining artifacts from the culture, so that’s what appealed to me initially” she explains, noting that there’s a lot of crossover with So/An. Outside of the classroom Tsuda expresses her varied interests as a coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), playing on the Women’s Rugby Team and working as a Tech Manager at the Lion’s Pause. (She notes that while hiring for the Tech team she and fellow major Nathan Hartwig analyzed how they went about hiring, using their So/An skills.)


Tsuda as part of the Preferred Gender Pronoun (PGP) Week with the GSC.

What she calls one of her “pivotal moments as a So/An major” was her off-campus study program. She laughs. “Those of you who are in my senior seminar may be familiar with the fact that I went to Chicago, because I bring it up at least once a class.” In the Off-Campus Study in Chicago she took an Urban Studies course on Social Justice in an Urban Context, which, she says “was an amazing experience. I got to meet a lot of exciting people.” Tsuda recommends the domestic off-campus study experience, saying that immersing herself in a city “I was supposed to be familiar with” and learning about it was a valuable experience and “I have no regrets about not leaving the country.”

Another thing she has no regrets about is returning to the So/An major. “I feel like, I did it right.” She says, joking that “everyone has that moment senior year where they’re like ‘oh I should have majored in something else!’ but I think most often that major is So/An.” It’s also something she recommends to people interested in a variety of areas. “I think it’s a really great double major… I think it mixes well with other things, like Pre Med or a language.”

She talks about how much she has grown in the major, learning how “things often taken for granted aren’t necessarily truth” and she has learned to challenge assumptions, and to not always accept the simplest answer.

This May, Tsuda will graduate with her two majors, and is sure to continue her sociological thought wherever she goes.

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 13, 2015

Some Reading for the Weekend

The weekend is here and we’re enjoying some early spring weather. So here are some articles to enjoy as well!

Amin Ghaziani explores where gay and lesbian couples live, and why they tend not to share the same spaces, in the current issue of Contexts.

Alex Andreou explored homelessness for The Guardian, looking at how cities are creating harsh environments for their inhabitants and how architecture can reflect our beliefs. I’m sure we’ve all heard about the spikes put around London and other cities, and Andreou shows what they mean for UK society.

The Pew Research Center released data in January showing how financial insecurities can affect politics, specifically how it harms Democrats more than Republicans. You can read about their data here.

We’re seeing a new phenomenon in family dynamics in the US: two generations retired at the same time. Check out this NY Times article on how this is playing out for the American population.

The NY Times also has an article about marriage in France, and the tensions that arise around extra-marital affairs there. There is a clash occurring involving religious beliefs and the history of accepting extramarital affairs, and the tension is being fueled by the rise of websites dedicated to helping people have extramarital affairs.

Female writers online have recently been discussing the challenges of being a visible feminist in the age of the internet. They argue that the internet allows a deluge of hatred and vitriol that is more exhausting and constant than the criticisms of the past. For many women, the question becomes, is it worth it?

There is an idea in many areas of the population that transgender people must transition early in life. As this story by Jacob Bernstein shows, however, there are those who transition later in life, and this brings its own challenges.

In light of the new Cinderella movie coming out, Linda Holmes explores the history and messages hidden in the story. The story has changed over time, and some themes endure while others change.

Have you read a great article lately? Let us know in the comments or share it with everyone on the Department Facebook Page!

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 11, 2015

Susan Scow Senior Profile

While most students find or declare a major by the end of their sophomore year, senior Susan Scow took a little while to find hers. After studying political science for two years, she was still uncertain about the fit of the major for her interests and goals. When she confessed her misgivings to her boyfriend, he suggested that perhaps Sociology/Anthropology was more up her alley. She wasn’t entirely sure “what sociology/anthropology were” she confesses, but decided to take a course.

After taking a class in the department her sophomore year, Scow declared the major, taking the rest of her classes her junior and senior years. She says while it ended up being a lot of classes to take, it wasn’t a difficult transition. “I feel like I’ve always been a part of the discipline.” Scow found that rather than being a major change in thinking, it rather “enhanced the way I thought before. I really like being critical of structures and the idea that you don’t have to take things for granted the way you are. You can change them because we actually understand the outside forces acting on us.”

Now she’s ending her college career as a Sociology/Anthropology and Asian Studies dual major with concentrations in China Studies and Management Studies. “I think they’re so complimentary” she says of her majors, noting that she comes across many of the same thinkers, such a Foucault, in both her upper-level So/An and Asian Studies classes. Furthermore, as an Asian Studies major she took Asian conversation (along with fellow major Tam Nguyen), during which, she says, she did an informal ethnography, which helped prepare her for the So/An research methods classes.

Much like fellow senior SoAn and Management Studies student Joua Yang, Scow says that management studies is also extremely connected, with the use of focus groups and spending time with the target population to discern their needs and wants. In fact, she says, many majors, including her former major Political Science are very relatable and can work well with the Sociology/Anthropology major.

As for the future, she is interested in “sourcing and supply chain management, helping to build better supply chains, more ethical supply chains and more sustainable supply chains.” Eventually she has hopes for a master’s degree in that area or a similar area of study.  While she has no concrete plans for right after graduation, she hopes to start in sourcing coffee, following an academic internship in Costa Rica over interim. That internship, found through research on the internet and funded by the Piper Center and the Ken Olsen Grant gave her the opportunity to learn about political activity and mobilization in a small farming town, while staying with a host family.  “I love my host family so much, and now I can go back.”

Her philosophy about creating future goals is based on “speaking it into action.” Scow advises everyone to think about their interests and share them with people, gaining advice and support along the way. She knows that the experience post-graduation will be very different from being at school, surrounded by other critical thinkers. “I’m spoiled” she laughs, saying she’s aware that back in the “real world” many people “will be talking in black and white” and not in the nuances she’s accustomed to as a So/An student. Still, she feels prepared by her studies and supported by her department. “Everyone is so great.” She smiles. It may have taken her a while to find the major, but she knows now that she made the right choice.

If you have questions for Susan Scow, you can reach her at

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