The biocultural medical anthropology component of the doctoral program examines the interactions between sociocultural and biological determinants of adaptation, especially with regard to physical and psychological health. Biocultural medical anthropology, a specific approach within the more general subfield of medical anthropology, strives to understand why people grow and develop as they do, and why they may be at risk for health problems. Biocultural anthropologists attempt to use research findings for the benefit of communities as well as care providers. It is part of the largest and fastest-growing subfield within anthropology and is increasingly relevant to research and training across a number of areas, from applied health sciences and transcultural psychiatry to epidemiology and community health development. The central feature of our approach is an effort to combine the biological and cultural aspects of medical anthropology. This biocultural perspective on health and illness is essential to the study of the topics in which the department specializes: cultural and biological influences on health and mental health; treatment choice and healing; reproductive health; how culture shapes physiology; fetal and childhood growth and development; and paleopathology, among others.
It is anticipated that the student will have applied to our program with the intention of working with a specific advisor. It is expected that the relationship with the advisor will be one of mentorship as the student moves toward a mastery of the craft of original research and publication and gains familiarity with the role of a colleague.
Required courses for the Ph.D. program are as follows: ANT 601 Advanced Research Design; ANT 610 Theory and Method in Medical Anthropology; and, ANT 612 Seminar in Biocultural Anthropology. Additional coursework is elective and supports the student’s specific area of research interest. A reading facility in one foreign language appropriate to the research topic must be demonstrated, either by successful completion of two semesters of foreign language course work or by examination.
The degree requires that applicants experience substantial ethnographic fieldwork, consistent with the traditional emphasis in Americanist anthropology. There are no specific requirements concerning the duration of such field work, though it is expected to last from 3 to 12 months.
Persons admitted to the Ph.D. program are guaranteed a minimum of two years of funding.