The anthropology major combines the study of social and cultural theory with the empirical study of everyday life, social organization, cultural and political expression, and forms of imagination across the diversity of human cultures past and present, including those of the students themselves.
The department particularly focuses on the challenges of our own moment in history: new religious practices and religious strife, globalization and competition, law and the problems of governance, new diseases and medical interventions, global social movements and transnational media forms, environmental crises such as climate change, and further challenges offered up by turbulence and destitution. In all cases, acute awareness of shifting contexts in which institutions are embedded, and the impact of global, regional, and national politics on social life, is built into the methodology and the theory engaged by faculty and students.
We see teaching and research as integrally linked, and invite undergraduate students to participate in research as they take introductory and advanced courses in anthropology. The Trouillot Essay Prize is a competitive award granted each spring to the best undergraduate essay in anthropology.
Undergraduate coursework offers an introduction to the basic methodologies and theories of contemporary anthropology through discussion and directed research on these and other topical issues. Student advising helps interested students to develop sequences of complementary courses tailored to their own interests. In addition, majors may choose to pursue an honors program.
Undergraduates in anthropology acquire a foundation for careers in medicine, international relations, and law, as well as preparation for graduate work in anthropology and related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
Upon completing the BA degree, a student majoring in anthropology will be able to:
- Evaluate the quality of anthropological claims by analyzing their arguments, evidence, and methods
- Produce anthropological knowledge through exercises in fieldwork, oral presentation, and ethnographic writing
- Think critically about contemporary social and cultural concerns and the diversity of human experience, in the United States and globally.