Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Tom Ward, Department Chair
Lora Magnum Shields Science Building, Room 341
FAX: 505.454.3331

Mission of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The mission of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences is to contribute to the educational and research needs in psychology, sociology, anthropology, criminal justice and the related fields; contribute to the career needs in psychological and social services and social sciences,  and to training for careers in education, engineering, physical and biological sciences, medicine, and other science fields; contribute to meeting the need for secondary school teacher certification in sociology and/or anthropology; and to provide psychological and sociocultural service and expertise for the region, as well as to the greater global community.



Erika Derkas (Sociology)
Gloria Gadsden (Sociology)
Mario Gonzales (Anthropology)
Lara Heflin (Psychology)
Jean Hill (Psychology)
Shilpashri Karbhari (Sociology)
Warren Lail (Anthropology)
Linda LaGrange (Psychology)
David Pan (Psychology)
Gerald Russell (Psychology)
Orit Tamir (Anthropology)
Thomas Ward (Sociology)
Ian Williamson (Psychology)


Sociology and Anthropology

The disciplines of sociology and anthropology, combined, offer a holistic approach to the study of humankind. The program offers both bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree options with four possible emphases: sociology, anthropology, criminology, and American Indian studies. The region’s long and varied human traditions, dating from the prehistoric past of 10,000 years ago with Clovis and Folsom cultures to the 21st century mixed-culture traditions, provide an excellent natural laboratory for socio-cultural studies. The program emphasizes student participation in field and campus laboratory experiences, practicum, and computer competence in analysis of data. Small classes provide an enriched educational environment for both students and faculty.

Career opportunities include preparation for graduate studies, teaching, cultural resource management, and practice in federal, state, and local agencies, as well as in private businesses and nonprofit sectors.

Major in Sociology and Anthropology (BS)
For a bachelor of science degree, complete requirements for bachelor of arts major in sociology and anthropology plus: complete a minor of at least 20 credits in one of the science fields other than sociology and anthropology, or complete a combined science minor, or complete a second major in a bachelor of science degree program, or complete a two-year degree in a science filed; and complete eight credits in mathematics, including Math 211.


Criminal Justice Studies

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice studies provides an excellent foundation for students interested in working within the criminal and juvenile justice systems. In addition, it offers a strong foundation for those interested in pursuing a law degree or a master’s degree in public administration or a closely related field. The criminal justice system is quite broad, and professionals, regardless of their specialization, must integrate information from a variety of academic disciplines. The program is designed with this objective in mind.



Psychology, the study of human behavior and mental processes, includes such topics as learning, memory, cognition, motivation, emotion, sensation, perception, personality, attitudes, social interactions, and psychopathology.

The special focus in this field is the individual rather than human societies or cultures. Although the study of psychology contributes to the understanding of abnormal human behavior, knowledge of psychology also enhances the understanding of normal human behavior.

Psychological research is conducted exclusively with the scientific method in applications that range from multifactorial laboratory experiments to single case studies. At Highlands, students experience the diversity within the field through a broad selection of courses. Behavioral and psychodynamic emphases are offered in the study of mental disorders, while research psychology is represented by cognitive, biological, social, and personality approaches.

Career goals of psychologists include teaching, research, and service. Psychologists, counselors, and psychometricians work at such sites as mental health centers and hospitals, geriatric facilities, and correctional institutions. The psychological profession also includes school psychologists and human relations or organizational behavior psychologists for industry or government.


Resources and Facilities

The human riches of Northern New Mexico provide an outstanding context for psychological, social, and cultural studies at New Mexico Highlands University. Students may engage in field archaeological digs, ethnographic, psychobiological research, and clinical practicum. Additionally, students have the opportunity to conduct research in our psychobiology and anthropology labs. Studies of human behavior emphasize field data and computer applications for analysis and interpretation.

The department provides a computer laboratory for student use. Students have access to word processing, spreadsheets, and statistical packages, as well as the Internet.

Student professional societies and organizations, such as Psi Chi, and the Sociology and Anthropology Club, provide opportunities for student participation and program enrichment beyond the classroom. 


This department is under the College of Arts and Sciences