Undergraduates

Yunnan women

Anthropology is a field of study that deals with both the biological and cultural aspects of humanity. Its basic concerns include the organic evolution of the human species; the origin, development and integration of customs, techniques, social relationships, and beliefs that define a way of life (culture) of human social groups; and the interrelations among these biological and cultural factors in human behavior.

Anthropology is divided into four major areas of study: anthropological archaeology, biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology.

Anthropological Archaeology seeks to understand the human past by examining the preserved remains of human activities. Through analyses of material culture, anthropological archeologists explore changes in the social, economic, and symbolic organization of human societies over the longest possible time span.

Biological Anthropology considers human evolutionary history, the causes of present-day genetic diversity, and biological aspects of human behavior. It draws on the evidence and concepts of paleontology, primate studies, population genetics, growth and nutrition, and ecology.

Sociocultural Anthropology describes, analyzes, and compares the widest possible range of human cultures and social institutions, with emphasis on the present day. While some sociocultural anthropologists concentrate on societies that differ from our own in scale or cultural history and way of life, others examine contemporary European and American societies with the wider perspective gained from looking at other cultures and societies.

Linguistic Anthropology views language as one of the most distinctive characteristics of human beings. It studies language in the context of human evolution, social relationships, and cultural forms, and it explores the role of languages and ways of speaking in cultural difference and social action.

Anthropology can be an important component of a liberal arts education, complementing a wide variety of fields. While the undergraduate major program provides an excellent foundation for more advanced work in anthropology, it is not intended to be solely a pre-professional program. Many of our students pursue advanced degrees in other disciplines, such as law, medicine, social work, public health, education, and history. Others find a major or coursework in anthropology helpful in government service or in a variety of international organizations and businesses. A number of our students choose to combine an anthropology major with a second field of study. We also offer minors in the sub-disciplines of anthropology.