All human life takes place within community. Individuals do not act, think, or even feel in complete isolation from others, but do so within and in response to social contexts. Because we all live in societies, it is valuable to seek to understand the institutions and components of society (such as culture, government, law, religion, and social structure) and the various ways human beings have lived in societies in different cultures and time periods.
The BA in Human Society uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine people and institutions in the context of societies and to evaluate individual and collective choices. The disciplines of Anthropology, History, Political Science, and Sociology offer key methodologies for investigating major institutions of human society conceptually, comparatively, and through case studies (both historical and contemporary).
- Anthropology’s holistic rendering of the human story takes on as its project a description of the vast array of social, cultural, and biological variations within the human species.
- The discipline of history examines past human societies and their approaches to vital questions and challenges by exploring the complex web of causes and effects through time.
- The discipline of political science has at its heart the question of how best to organize the governance of human societies so that humans can reach their full potentials.
- Sociology examines groups, social process, and social relationships in order to discover the social patterns that undergird human society.
Because it is a cross-disciplinary program, the Human Society major uses multiple lenses through which to examine the complexity of reality. Different disciplines shed different lights on an issue, so multiple disciplines in dialogue offer the possibility of a more holistic view. In the Human Society major, you will investigate two related questions from the points of view of Anthropology, History, Political Science, and Sociology:
- How can we understand the major institutions and components in human society (such as culture, government, law, religion, and social structure)?
- How can we analyze human choices and their ramifications, especially within the context of societies?
Through exploration of these questions, your classes will help you to deepen your understanding of human society. The Human Society major is a flexible program that allows you to emphasize either Anthropology, History, Political Science, or Sociology, or, if you prefer, a mix of these disciplines.
The Human Society major will help prepare you to participate in society in professional, civic, and personal capacities. Like other liberal arts majors, this program fosters strong writing, research, and analysis skills. Based on the disciplines of anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, the program can provide grounding for multiple career paths: for example, in government, law, data analysis, high school teaching, museum work, social and community services, publishing, and international development.
- Complete your studies with a capstone experience that brings together all of your knowledge
- Study alongside graduate students and working professionals at the Colonial Williamsburg Teachers Institute
- Assist with archival research at Cairnwood Estate and help curate exhibits at Glencairn Museum
- Study historic architecture and craftsmanship at Bryn Athyn Cathedral
See what our Human Society students are up to— where they’ve gone and why!
Studying human society can provide useful tools for spiritual development. Reflecting on human choices will help you to cultivate your own ability for personal reflection, an activity that supports spiritual development. Your classes will encourage you to reflect on and determine your own choices as you engage in society.