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

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 6, 2015

Joua Yang Senior Profile

“I think everyone has a personal connection with Sociology/Anthropology” Joua Yang says. She explains that for her, her personal connection stems from a childhood of going to diverse schools and being around racial diversity.  Initially arriving at St. Olaf planning to create a major in communications, she instead followed her interests into Sociology/Anthropology.


Joua Yang, class of 2015

She has paired the major with a management studies concentration, as Yang expresses an interest in marketing and fashion. “I think when it comes to marketing you’re really trying to find consumer trends, so you’re looking at what’s popular.” That is something that involves demographics and an understanding of cultural shifts, about which her sociology/anthropology degree has taught her. As for fashion, “I think fashion plays into people’s lives every day. And fashion is also a big part of the consumption industry, global marketing, and global capitalism. It’s interesting to see the representation in fashion, how it discriminates or opens up opportunities for certain groups than for other groups.” She says that being a So/An major has helped her think critically about fashion. “Now that I’ve become more critical because of my So/An major now I’m starting to see the deeper issues that come with fashion… and other positive things about fashion. Not just ‘oh you look nice’ but ‘why people do people do that’?”

While Yang plans to look for a job in marketing after graduation, she knows that whatever she does, fashion will play a role.  “I always tell people that no matter how old I get I’ll always do something with fashion, whether it’s a hobby or a job.” She also knows that she has been influenced by the Sociology/Anthropology major. “I think being a So/An major has made me appreciate and acknowledge human diversities.”

She says that the So/An major is good for anyone who is interested in issues of social justice. “I think it’s good to consider this major if you want to be a social activist or if you just want to make some sort of change.” According to Yang, this includes activists, but also people working for non-profits or behind the scenes, such as people in public relations.

Wherever she ends up, Yang is sure to be a fashionable critical thinker, ready to make a difference.

If you have questions for Yang, you can email her at

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 2, 2015

Some Department News

We had some exciting news in the department last month!

Professor Ibtesam Al Atiyat was awarded tenure, and is now an Associate Professor. We’re very excited and happy for her!

The Department also hired a new sociology professor, David Schalliol. We’re excited to welcome him to the department next year. You can check out some of his work here.

Posted by: soanstolaf | March 2, 2015

Intro To Sociology This Summer

This summer St. Olaf will offer an Intro to Sociology course for the first summer session, taught by our very own Professor Al Atiyat. If you’re interested, registration opens today, March 2!

Posted by: soanstolaf | February 27, 2015

So/An Student Joins Summer Archaeological Dig in Turkey

For the past two summers a small group of St. Olaf students have enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few weeks in the Turkish countryside, excavating at Antiochia ad Cragum archaeological site outside the small town of Gazipasa in southern Turkey. This summer, they will be joined by sophomore So/An major Ellen Meyers.


Meyers entered St. Olaf certain she would be a Sociology/Anthropology major due to her ultimate goal of studying forensic anthropology, and her general interest in the disciplines. She says that all her classes have fascinated her and confirmed that she made the right choice in major. When she first heard about the excavations in Turkey during an ancient history class taught by the program’s faculty advisor, Professor Tim Howe, she was immediately interested in the possibility of participating in a similar experience. “I’ve always been kind of interested in that general area of the world,” she explains. St. Olaf has joined forces with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln over the past two years to excavate the 1st century Roman market town, with St. Olaf’s project focused on excavating the site’s acropolis. Meyers applied to participate in the program, which consists of approximately twenty students, from St. Olaf and Carleton. “You don’t need any previous experience, which was very attractive to me, because I have no previous experience” she jokes.

Meyers doesn’t have any illusions that it won’t be a challenge, particularly because it will be her first time traveling abroad. From a small town in Minnesota, she is excited to experience another country and place, and get the chance to learn about the history of another area. “I come from a small farm community, about 2000 people, and it’s almost all German” she explains, and she has always enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds.  She’s been trying to learn about the area, “right now I’ve been doing a lot of google searches” she says, learning about current events, but also the history and culture of the area. “We’re actually going to be there over Ramadan, so that’s going to be interesting.” As a So/An major she relishes the opportunity to spend time in a new place, broadening her worldview and learning how other people see the world.

While she says she thinks it would be exciting to make a find, she finds the course appealing because she will learn proper methods of archaeological fieldwork, something she is not only interested in, but knows will be useful for her planned career path. “Everybody thinks of archaeology like ‘oh you’re  going to dig up bones and artifacts and stuff’ and we’re going to do some of that but we’re also going to learn about different types of soils and excavation techniques and what they think used to be there” she explains. Meyers and the other students have already had a meeting with the leaders of the program, where they learned about previous finds at the site (such as early Christian crosses, coins, and statues) as well as the research goals for this year’s excavations.

We look forward to hearing about Ellen’s experiences when she gets back next year!

Thanks to fellow Ole student Lizzy Bews for information on the program.

Posted by: soanstolaf | February 23, 2015

Lindsay O’Keefe Senior Profile

Lindsay O'Keefe, class of 2015

Lindsay O’Keefe, class of 2015

Second semester of her freshman year, Lindsay O’Keefe found herself torn between taking a sociology/anthropology class and a psychology class. Her mother (who, ironically, works in an area of psychology), suggested she take sociology, suspecting her daughter would find it a better fit. And her mother’s intuition paid off. Already a history major, O’Keefe found herself enamored with another field. “I remember calling my mom and being like, “Mom, I think I also want to major in sociology!””

Now she’s finishing up senior year with both History and Sociology/Anthropology majors, as well as a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies. There is a common denominator in her fields. “The reason I fell in love with both of them [History and SoAn] was because they’re both analyzing society.”

O’Keefe’s ultimate goal is a PhD, and she continues on that path next year by attending graduate school in the Netherlands at a master’s program with Utrecht University for Gender Studies. “I decided I wanted to be abroad next year if possible.” She hopes it will be a “good way to make sure that I want to do this type of stuff for the rest of my life.” From there, she will decide whether to do a PhD in Sociology or History, with an emphasis on gender.

Her Women’s and Gender studies concentration interacts with her So/An training to shape the way she views the world, something she readily acknowledges. She says she notices gendered language and norms more often than many people, “it’s just so normal to most So/An majors that you don’t even think about it.”

She wasn’t always so interested in gender. “I was one of those people who would probably say that I agreed with feminism but wouldn’t identify myself as a feminist”, something she laughs about now, as she readily identifies as a feminist.  Through her classes she gained a better understanding of feminism and feminist theory, and found a way to make sense of her life experiences. “I think it was just one of those things that happened in college. It just became more relevant as I got older.” She adds that it wasn’t one class, but rather the inclusion of gender in a number of classes, in a variety of departments, that helped her learn and changed her ideas. Her interest “just sort of organically happened” over time. Her study abroad experiences, particularly in Morocco where catcalling is more open and common, also helped show her how relevant gender issues are.

Besides Morocco, O’Keefe has studies abroad in two other countries, bringing her total of Interims abroad to three.  She fondly remembers her trip last year to Jordan with Professor Ibtesam Al Atiyat. “Going abroad with one of the So/An professors was really cool and exciting.” It was a different study abroad experience, she says, because they were “looking and analyzing a society from the perspective of sociology/anthropology.”

Looking to the future, she’s extremely confident that her choice of the So/An major will help her, wherever she ends up.  “What can you do with a Soc major? You can do really anything!” She chose the major “because I loved it” she explains, and that’s the most important thing. “Do something because you love it. Just go for it.”

If you have questions for O’Keefe about her experiences, you can reach her at

Posted by: soanstolaf | February 23, 2015

Creating a Class to Explore a Passion

Senior Katie Reed knew she was interested in taking a class on public health and Native American communities. The one problem was that there wasn’t a class offered on that topic. So, being a resourceful Ole and Sociology/Anthropology major, she created one, doing an independent study with Professor Tom Williamson last semester.

The class, which Reed designed with help from Professor Williamson and some sources from retired So/An professor Carolyn Anderson, focused on the issue of providing culturally competent care to Native American communities, due to their unique position in U.S. Society and their unique health concerns. They utilized books, journal articles, videos, and lots of online research.  Reed tried to look at what tribes are doing to combat health issues in Native American communities, “especially in MN, because I really focused in on what’s going on here in our community.” Reed also got the opportunity to connect with people in the Native American community and academics doing research in the area. At first, she says she was nervous about talking to people, “but it was really good for my confidence and I learned a lot from different people.”

Initially Reed planned to do a presentation as her final project. She realized, however, that he research was better suited to a website. So she created a site, which includes a literature review of books she read, information on what tribes are doing in MN, history of Indian Health Service, and resources for people interested in public health masters programs with a focus on Native American issues. The research on graduate programs “was beneficial for myself, just to do that research now, so I know as I apply to schools.” She hopes to continue to build the website as she continues on her public health path, even though she has finished her independent study.

Reed encourages other students to consider doing independent studies. “If you’re passionate about something that isn’t offered here, you should definitely go for it if you have room in your schedule.” While she acknowledges that it wasn’t easy, she enjoyed the work because it interested her, and she laughs, “it was already stuff I would be looking up in my free time.” She also enjoyed the chance to work one-on-one with a professor and benefit from their insight. Reed continues to work toward her goal of working in public health as she finishes her last semester here at St. Olaf.

The website is If you’re interested in Katie Reed’s project, you can contact her at

Posted by: soanstolaf | February 20, 2015

Katie Reed Senior Profile

Senior Katie Reed arrived at St. Olaf already interested in Sociology and Anthropology. After one class, she added the major, soon pairing it with a Psychology major and a Race and Ethnic Studies concentration. Her majors are not a common pairing she explains, but says she doesn’t know why exactly, because she finds them complimentary. “Psychology is really looking at the individual and with sociology and anthropology it’s really looking at society and the collective. So I think they really influence each other in different ways.”

Her ultimate goal is to get a Masters in Public Health in the next five years, hopefully eventually working in community health organization. She’s well on her way, having interned at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois in their Public Affairs and Community Investments Department for two summers. “That was really quite a good experience getting to know what the corporate world was like.” Reed says that So/An helped her understand the bureaucracy and hierarchy of a large corporation like that and helped her connect with the populations she was working with. Her job involved talking with various communities about the Affordable Care Act and their health care options.

Reed also designed an independent study about public health in Native American communities, an area that she hopes to continue working in as she pursues a position in the public health field.

Reed says that being a sociology/anthropology major has “opened my worldview. I definitely see the world in a global perspective and am more aware of my position as a global citizen.” On her recent interim trip to South Africa, she was able to use some of the skills learned in So/An classes. While the South Africa trip (where she was accompanied by fellow So/An student Lindsay O’Keefe) was a Social Work class, she say it was “really interdisciplinary” and involved “talking about how South African society is constructed, especially in the post-apartheid era.” Reed enjoys talking about her major, explaining that she has learned from all her classes, and found that they all connect and interact. She sums her feelings up with a smile, and a simple “I love my major so much.”

Katie Reed at Cape Agulhas - the southernmost tip of South Africa.

Katie Reed at Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of South Africa.

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