Known as the ‘holistic science of mankind’, anthropology attempts to understand humanity in the broadest of comparative perspectives. Among all the liberal arts disciplines, anthropology is unique in its goal of bridging the humanities, natural and social sciences, and in its long view of human time. Topics of study range from primate morphology and evolution, to brain development and cognition, early, past and present social and political formations, cultural practices and culture change, hermeneutics and textuality, representation and interpretation. Cultural anthropology studies living and historical societies. Archaeology attempts to understand prehistory through the study of artifacts. Linguistic anthropology studies cross-cultural variation in language structure and use. Physical anthropology focuses on the biology and evolution of the species Homo sapiens.

The Anthropology major

A total of 36 credits in anthropology to include Anthropology 101, 102, 318, 491 and 492 (or 498); plus 20 additional credits.

Prospective majors are encouraged to complete the two introductory courses (101 and 102) by the end of their sophomore year. During that same time, and in their junior and senior years, they are free to choose from the range of 200 and 300 level courses according to their interests. The History and Theory course (318) is usually completed in the junior year—sophomore year for those who intend to go abroad junior year—so that majors are prepared to begin senior thesis research by the end of their junior year.

The Anthropology minor

Anthropology 101, 102, 318; plus eight additional credits in anthropology.

Our introductory courses—Paleoanthropology (101) and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (102)—are required for all majors and minors, and provide an overview of the four traditional fields of anthropological research: physical anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology and linguistics. Although we frequently invite visiting professors to offer courses in regional archaeology and archaeological theory, the majority of our courses are in cultural anthropology and linguistics, reflecting the specialization of our two full-time faculty.

Our ‘upper level’ courses are coded at the 200 and 300 levels. The two levels have nothing to do with relative ‘difficulty’, but refer to a distinction between ethnographic/regional courses (200 level), and theoretical/topical courses (300 level). So, for example, courses on Native North American, MesoAmerican, Chinese, and Tibeto-Burman peoples are coded at the 200 level, while courses on kinship, social movements, linguistics, ethnicity, religion, etc., are coded at the 300 level. All 200 and 300 level courses are open to majors and non-majors alike, the only partial exception being History and Theory in Anthropology (318), which is required of all majors, but recommended only for non-majors who already have some background in social theory. 400 level courses are for senior majors only.