Professor Thalia Wheatley: "We are a social species and live our lives connected to everybody else. If we want to understand how the human brain works, then we need to understand how brains work in combination—how minds shape each other."

Dartmouth social science faculty present to Federal Reserve Chairs and discover new fossils of human ancestors. And undergraduates play a key role in the research. But research also plays a key role for undergraduates: whether you’re using the MRI scanner dedicated to collaborative work between undergraduates and faculty or exploring economic transitions in Poland, close access to cutting edge research and innovative faculty defines Dartmouth’s immersive, experiential approach to understanding and solving human challenges.

Our Faculty of Social Sciences Say

A photo of professor Brendan Nyhan and a student

“One of the most important things we can teach in a liberal arts education is how to be an effective writer. I’ve found that writing for academic and popular audiences has made me a better writer in both formats. I tell my students that writing in both formats has made me faster, and hopefully clearer and more precise. I stress to them that you can't become a better writer unless you write and write and write.”

Learn more about Brendan Nyhan, Professor of Govenment
A photo of professor Elizabeth Cascio

“As a researcher, I’ve devoted significant time to generating some of the ‘evidence’ behind evidenced-based policymaking on the care and education of young children. I’ve found it gratifying to see that evidence occasionally cited by policymakers. But it’s [another thing entirely] to have the opportunity to translate the evidence into a concrete policy proposal.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Cascio, Associate Professor of Economics
A photo of professor Sienna Craig

“The worlds of healing across cultures, the meanings people ascribe to illness, and the social lives of medicines fascinate me. I am also deeply curious about how communities navigate processes of migration and social change.”

Learn more about Sienna Craig, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Asian Societies, Cultures, and Languages Program, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Cool Classes

Dartmouth creates a rich academic culture imbued with critical thinking and creativity, one that promotes experimentation, reflection, learning, and leadership. But don't take our word for it. We asked our students to tell us about some of their social sciences courses.

Academics at DartmouthResearch at Dartmouth

Social Science Alumni

Nobel laureates, government leaders, judges, scientists, writers, scholars, journalists, entertainers-Dartmouth alumni have distinguished themselves in all fields. Here are some notable alumni in the social sciences making a difference in the world.

Learn More About Our Alumni

Study the Social Sciences Off Campus

At Dartmouth, we have taken the traditional study abroad model, erased its boundaries, and expanded its parameters. Study abroad here is not an isolated semester in another country. Arranged through Dartmouth's Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education, these powerful learning experiences are enhanced through faculty mentorship. The curriculum and structure of the school year allow students to follow their research around the world.

Dartmouth's Global Impact
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  • Anthropology

    Bachelor of Arts

    What does it mean to be human? A multidimensional study of humankind integrating many perspectives on human diversity into a single discipline, anthropology examines this question in social scientific, biocultural, and humanistic terms. By studying how people adapt to environments, create complex cultural systems, and weather political-economic transitions in the past and present, we explore the human condition.

    Dartmouth's Department of Anthropology offers a four-field program of study in archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology to contribute to a global picture of the human experience. Crossing boundaries that have separated the humanities and sciences, anthropology students at Dartmouth examine both the organic evolution of our biological family and the variety and unity of peoples, societies, and cultures worldwide and across millennia. 

  • Economics

    Bachelor of Arts

    Economics studies how societies use scarce resources to produce valuable commodities for distribution among different people, how people use resources and respond to incentives, and how individuals and groups of people make decisions. Economics helps us understand historical trends, interpret contemporary issues, and make predictions about the future.

    At Dartmouth, economics students take courses in finance, international economics, macroeconomics, competition and strategy, labor economics, development economics, and public economics. Faculty and students work together to use the tools and discipline of economics to understand pressing social issues. Students who take courses in Dartmouth’s Economics Department are introduced to a unique way of asking questions and examining problems; thus, they develop their analytical thinking skills in the best tradition of the liberal arts.

  • Education

    Minor in Education

    The study of education explores the complex connections between human development, learning, and teaching. It impacts the lives of children and adults, as well as any professional or personal pursuit that involves learning and teaching.

    One of the main goals of the Department of Education at Dartmouth is to begin bridging the gaps among developmental and educational research, practice, and policy. The six-course education minor is designed to help students build and use an integrated, multilevel understanding of learning and development based on critical analysis of theory, policy, and empirical data from education, neuroscience, and psychology. Students taking courses in education at Dartmouth explore how children grow, acquire language, think, reason, learn a variety of skills and knowledge, and how they conceptualize their social, emotional, and moral worlds.

  • Geography

    Bachelor of Arts

    Geographers study the material and symbolic transformation of the earth in relationship to both human and natural processes. In keeping with contemporary global shifts in culture, the environment, politics and economics, the boundaries of the geographic discipline are dynamic.

    Dartmouth College houses the only Geography Department in the Ivy League, and students at Dartmouth study Geography as both a natural science and a social science. Human geography (a social science) is concerned especially with the political, economic, social, and cultural processes and resource practices that give definition to particular places and that are affected by them. Physical geography (a natural science) focuses on the earth systems that create the natural environment, such as weather, soils, biogeography, and earth sculpting processes. Geography courses at Dartmouth address a range of these key issues.

  • Government

    Bachelor of Arts

    Aristotle described political science as the overarching science, arguing that it helps us understand who we are as human beings and how we can live happy and productive lives in communities.

    Dartmouth’s Department of Government maintains the ancient Greek fascination with the nature of governance at every level of social interaction. Courses in Government direct students’ attention to communal failures and to the divisions, conflicts, and wars that result. Students and faculty explore these issues from diverse perspectives. They analyze texts, conduct surveys, experiments, interviews, and case studies, and collect and analyze quantitative data to understand the political world. The Department’s commitment to the idea that outstanding scholarship and teaching are complementary and mutually reinforcing sees students learning from faculty who are prominent researchers in their field.

  • History

    Bachelor of Arts

    History helps students appreciate their place within the world, and teaches them about who they are and what makes them tick. Not surprisingly, History achieves special relevance during periods of global uncertainty, as young people grapple with the confusing and troubling events of the day.

    History traditionally has stood at the heart of Dartmouth's emphasis on the liberal arts. The curriculum of the Dartmouth History Department—international in its reach and deep in its chronological perspective—prepares future citizens and leaders with a deep understanding of the world in which they live. Some history department alumni have pursued advanced degrees and taught at the world’s most prestigious universities, but more pursue careers in other occupations. Wherever they end up, our graduates find value in what they learned here. We know this because they stay in touch and tell us so.

  • Psychological and Brain Sciences

    Bachelor of Arts

    Psychological science is traditionally defined as the study of behavior, neuroscience as the study of the nervous system. Psychology studies observable behavior and develops models of underlying cognitive, affective, and physiological processes, while neuroscience examines questions on how the brain gives rise to the mind, how and where are memories stored, and other topics involving the brain and nervous system.

    Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Science offers majors and minors in both psychology and neuroscience. Psychology coursework includes classes in social interaction, sensation and perception, the physiological basis of behavior, cognition, learning, and behavioral disorders. Students in Neuroscience gain experience with ever-changing neuroscience research methods through laboratory work, and they also have the opportunity to engage in independent research with faculty.

  • Neuroscience

    Bachelor of Arts

    How does the brain give rise to the mind? How and where are memories stored? What is the biological basis of consciousness? What is the neural basis of decision making? How are mental illnesses related to changes in brain function? These are just a few of the intriguing and unresolved questions in the field of neuroscience. Neuroscience is a broad and interdisciplinary subject, drawing from psychology and biology, as well as computer science, chemistry, engineering, medicine, and other fields.

    Thus, the neuroscience curriculum at Dartmouth provides breadth and depth in the core areas of neuroscience. Neuroscience is a rapidly changing field, and those changes are driven by intensive research. Dartmouth students in neuroscience gain experience in research methods through laboratory work and have the opportunity to engage in independent research in conjunction with a faculty mentor.

  • Sociology

    Bachelor of Arts

    The world is constantly confronted with public policy issues that are essentially social in character. Sociological analyses provide a coherent yet diverse framework for examining these issues and for understanding the many perspectives involved in attempting to solve social problems.

    Students who take courses in Dartmouth’s Sociology Department are introduced to a unique way of asking questions, examining problems, and viewing the world. Sociological questions explore interpersonal interaction and conflict and study the behavior of groups, organizations, institutions, industries, social movements, and nation states. It is about learning analytical thinking in the best tradition of the liberal arts, providing Dartmouth students with a perspective that helps them better understand their day-to-day lives.