Message from the Chair

David Foster Wallace once said that “the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” The work to see, analyze, and critique what often remains invisible is our department’s shared project. All our majors incorporate critical attention to cultural processes, power relationships, patterns of social interaction, historical factors, and social structure. How does social inequality become reproduced in everyday life? How can we create a more just world? Are we afraid of the wrong things? How does language shape what we experience as reality? Such questions are the kinds we take seriously in our department’s programs.

In our programs, you can work closely with professors on their research, in small reading groups, and mentoring other students. Internships take learning out of the classroom to collaborate throughout Des Moines in quality placements. Our students present research at conferences and publish in journals. They receive one-on-one attention in their learning as critical and creative thinkers as well as advocates for social change.

Our graduates want more than a paycheck: they seek a life and work that question the status quo, have deeper meaning, and make the world a better place. They graduate with the ability to work across different social groups, read, write and speak thoughtfully, advocate for social change, and build careers that matter. Our alumni work as professors, teachers, social workers, public relations executives, activists, attorneys and bankers.

Our department offers majors in Sociology, Anthropology/Sociology, and an interdisciplinary major, Rhetoric, Media and Social Change. Each program has a slightly different emphasis but offers theories, methods, and content to understand the social world through a critical lens. With these tools, you graduate prepared to make a living, but also a meaningful life.

Darcie Vandegrift

Associate Professor of Sociology
Chair of the Department for the Study of Culture and Society

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