Anthropology explores the diversity and integrity of other cultures, and shows the value of other ways of life. The discipline is, by nature, inclusive, importing ideas, methods, and subject matter from many sources to apply to its central focus: the study of human culture. The field also has significant applications to practical problems, both in this country and elsewhere. Theoretical, Ethnographic, and practical aspects of anthropology are represented among the department's faculty and courses.
Students majoring in anthropology develop an appreciation for the anthropological view of social life - an understanding of how other peoples organize their social experience, of the variety of economic, political, and cosmological principles by which humans characterize and arrange their societies. Courses expose students to the fundamental concepts of the discipline, familiarize them with ethnographic studies in particular geographical areas, and engage them in original research that may be on campus, in the community, or in a foreign country. Topical courses cover diverse approaches, ranging from cultural materialism to symbolic anthropology, and from religion to comparative urbanism. Area courses focus on Japan, Africa, and Latin America. Students can experience ethnographic research by conducting local field projects.
Anthropology students also can study abroad in a variety of programs, some of which incorporate brief field projects, such as those offered by the School for International Training. Among their eight courses, majors are asked to take an introductory course, a theory course, a methods course, one area course, and an advanced seminar. They also may choose to include one sociology course.
In keeping with the far-ranging subject matter of anthropology, all faculty members are well traveled and have a wide range of research interests. Two have done research in Africa, one in Japan, one in Latin America. All have lived for long periods of time in other cultures and draw on personal experiences to illustrate their teaching.
Majors are prepared for a variety of careers, including academic and applied anthropology. In the past some have distinguished themselves in highly rated graduate programs in anthropology. But apart from the pursuit of graduate training, the discipline also offers a broad background and liberal education for many other careers. Students often choose social occupations that draw upon the skills and perceptions in dealing with people that they have learned from the study of anthropology.