Member of the Division of Social Studies
Anthropology, the study of humankind, strives to take the broadest possible perspective on the human condition. Anthropologists explore peoples and cultures around the world, past and present, to become familiar with and understand our common humanity, cultural diversity, the organization of social life, societal change, the evolution of our species, our place in the natural world, and our affinities with other species. Anthropology approaches culture holistically, studying the interrelationships among the many facets of human life: family, kinship, language, gender, exchange, ritual, myth, technology, socialization, power, privilege, and subsistence. Archaeologists concentrate on cultures of the past, cultural anthropologists on those of the present, linguistic anthropologists on language as a rule-governed and symbolic system and biological anthropologists on the complex interrelationship between cultural and biological factors in human life, past and present.
Anthropology is conceptually rich, drawing on theories and methods from the sciences, the humanities, and other social sciences. As such, it constitutes a bridging discipline, itself interdisciplinary, and serves as an excellent basis for a liberal arts education. Anthropology is good preparation for further study in such diverse fields as law, social work, museum studies, medicine, international and community development, urban and regional planning, journalism, and business. Many of the department’s graduates have gone on to further study in anthropology. They can be found working at the top graduate research universities, in museums, and for government agencies. They are also active in settings such as industries, public health, education, and various kinds of social survey research and community service.
ANT 104 is the general introduction to the field and is normally a student’s first course and a prerequisite for many upper-level courses. Students with special interests who wish to enroll in upper-level courses, but who have not taken ANT 104 , should consult with the relevant instructor about the preparation that will be assumed.
Anthropology, as an integrative science, has links with many other disciplines, such as biology, history, linguistics, religion, and other social-behavioral sciences. Anthropology students should select other offerings appropriate for an interdisciplinary program of study. Because of the importance of language in the study of any culture, qualified students are recommended to do work in a foreign language within designated courses in the department.
ANT 104 and ANT 280 are the only specifically required courses in the major and, under normal circumstances, the department will offer these every semester. The department will also typically offer at least two methods courses and four seminars every year, and ensure that there is a mix of courses in the four subfields (archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology), though the timing of any particular course is not fixed. Seminars typically require completion of either ANT 280 or another 200-level course in a relevant subfield. Majors should also endeavor to complete their methods course prior to taking a seminar or undertaking a senior thesis, and in some cases this may be required.