What is Anthropology?
The simplest definition of anthropology is the study of human beings at all times and places; but this definition does not do justice to the scope and scale of anthropology. In the words of noted anthropologists Carol and Melvin Ember, “anthropologists seek answers to an enormous variety of questions about humans. They are interested in discovering when, where and why humans appeared on the earth, how and why they have changed since then, and how and why modern human populations vary in certain physical features. Anthropologists are also interested in how and why societies in the past and present have varied in their customary ideas and practices.” Given the magnitude of this undertaking, anthropologists often approach the human condition from a holistic perspective, one which attempts to understand how language, culture, biology and the past are interrelated. This perspective is one of the hallmarks of anthropological inquiry. Nonetheless, anthropologists often specialize in one subdiscipline: physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology. For more information on the subdiscliplines, click here.
The Department of Anthropology offers one academic major and one academic minor applicable to the Bachelor of Arts degree. In pursuing its central goal of instructing students in the nature of human social, cultural and biological diversity, the undergraduate program is organized around a four-field approach to the discipline of anthropology.
The undergraduate curriculum provides students with a solid academic foundation in archaeology, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology,and anthropological linguistics. Competency in social scientific writing is stressed in the anthropology curriculum and a number of anthropology courses earn students writing credit ("W" credit) towards the fulfillment of general core curriculum requirements.