The study of culture and human diversity is the central concern of anthropology. Anthropologists study the rituals, politics, economics, patterns of behavior, and worldviews of people across the globe and throughout human history. What distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines is that it examines humans in their total complexity. To engage in the study of anthropology is to look beyond one’s own horizons and to learn about one’s place in the scheme of things--through understanding others we better understand ourselves.
In keeping with the university’s mission, anthropology encourages an appreciation for diversity, which is of paramount importance in any liberal arts setting. As the American Anthropological Association celebrates its 100th birthday in 2002, even in an era of global communication and the breaking down of national borders, conflict and strife brought on by cultural misunderstandings continue to disrupt world stability and capture the headlines. Anthropology builds intercultural knowledge that can lead to conflict resolution on an international scale.
A student might justifiably ask: "How useful is the study of anthropology for a future career?" Majoring in anthropology not only leads to academic careers in research and teaching, but to other satisfying job pursuits as well. Opportunities for anthropology graduates include careers in public health, medicine, advertising, marketing, cultural resource management, law, journalism, international diplomacy, and international development. Anthropology can give students a valuable edge in a highly competitive job market by encouraging the "holistic perspective," one of the hallmarks of anthropological thinking. To understand and appreciate the complex interrelationships of cultural forms and institutions as wholes serves the job applicant well in seeing how people in organizations and communities organize their social experience and give meaning to it. The National Association of Practicing Anthropologists states: "As the boundaries between and among cultures and societies becomes less clear, as technology allows greater interaction among people, and as our own culture becomes more complex, the skills that anthropologists have will be of critical value to industry, government, communities and organizations of various kinds."
Students in anthropology select occupations that are intensely interpersonal in nature. A major in anthropology includes courses that enhance one’s "people" skills, observational skills, oral and written communication, inquisitiveness and intellectual breadth.