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Social Sciences

Social science is the scientific study of society and social relationships. Research examines relationships among individuals, as well as relationships between individuals and their societies. Our social scientists delve into problems like what makes French fries so addictive, how infrastructure can influence climate change, and how motherhood is covered by the media.

Meet the Research Associate Dean for the Social Sciences

Elizabeth Cole

Associate Dean for Social Sciences, Professor, Women's Studies, Psychology, and Afroamerican & African Studies

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Professor Cole’s research, at the intersection of psychology and women’s studies, works to understand the social construction of categories like gender, race and social class. Feminist theorists have long argued that these categories are not natural or essential, but instead derive meaning from specific social and cultural practices and beliefs that vary in different times and places. She is interested in questions such as: How do the categories mutually construct each other and work together to shape outcomes such as well being or political attitudes? How do people experience these social categories as parts of their identities? How do members of different groups perceive these categories of difference, and how are these perceptions related to prejudice?


Units in the Social Sciences


Anthropology research focuses on human biological and cultural variation in time and space, with four traditionally recognized subfields.

Communication Studies

Communication Studies is dedicated to producing cutting-edge scholarship about the media’s impact on individuals and society.


In the Department of Economics, research covers a broad range of fields, including development economics, industrial organization, labor economics, and natural resource and energy economics.


History at Michigan is global, multidimensional, and interdisciplinary, and research is conducted on a range of topics spanning the millenia and covering nearly every geographic region in the world.

International Institute

The International Institute (II) stimulates research and teaching on critical areas of the world and on international issues that cut across world regions and disciplines.

Museum of Anthropology

Research collections at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology include materials from many parts of the New and Old Worlds, and a portion is displayed in the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

Organizational Studies

Organizational Studies scholarship offers an interdisciplinary lens to understand the complex world we inhabit, including the structures of legal systems, markets, educational systems, or workplaces.


Political Science

Research in Political Science is comprised of multiple substantive focus areas and methodological approaches, including: American politics, comparative politics, methods, political theory, law and politics, and world politics.


There are nine research areas within Psychology: Biopsychology, Clinical Science, Cognitive and Cognitive Neuroscience, Combined Program in Education and Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Gender and Feminist Psychology, Social Psychology, Personality and Social Contexts, and Social Work and Psychology.

Residential College

The Residential College (RC) is often described as a living-learning community; this is because RC students live and learn in the same physical space.


Research in the Department of Sociology is organized in eight different areas: Culture and Knowledge; Economic Sociology and Organizations; Gender and Sexuality; Health and Healthcare; Power, History, and Social Change; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; and Social Demography

Women's Studies

Through scholarship, curriculum, and activism, the Women’s Studies department seeks to: build interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty and students that bridge gender, racial, economic, religious, and national divides; create new forms of knowledge; and tie the University to our communities by promoting social justice.





Social Sciences Research Resources