Introductory Courses

The courses listed below offer students a solid foundation as they study the disciplines of Anthropology.


Introduction to Anthropology

A comprehensive study of humankind, the course will survey and organize the evidence of our biological and cultural evolution. It will explore the unity and diversity of human cultural behavior as exemplified in the widest variations in which this behavior has been manifest. Lectures and readings will describe the dialectical relationship between the material conditions of our existence, on the one hand, and, on the other, the unique human capacity for creativity both in thought and in action. The focus of this course will be not only to outline the conditions and conditioning of our cultural past and present, but also to indicate possibilities for future evolution of human culture and experience. 

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.


Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is the study of human ways of life in the broadest possible comparative perspective. Cultural anthropologists are interested in all types of societies, from hunting and gathering bands to modern industrial states. The aim of cultural anthropology is to document the full range of human cultural adaptations and achievements and to discern in this great diversity the underlying covariations among and changes in human ecology, institutions and ideologies.

(CULT) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW

ANTH 04 (Identical to NAS 10)

Peoples and Cultures of Native North America

The course provides an introduction to the peoples and cultures of Native North America. A single indigenous group (nation) from different "culture areas" is highlighted to emphasize particular forms of economy, social organization, and spirituality. The course focuses on the more traditional American Indian cultures that existed before the establishment of Western domination, as well as on the more recent native culture history and modern-day economic, sociopolitical and cultural continuity, change, and revitalization. Open to all classes.

(CULT) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. 



Reconstructing the Past: Introduction to Archaeology

Anthropological archaeology makes a unique contribution to understanding the human past. This course introduces the key concepts, methods and techniques used by modern archaeologists to interpret the past. Students will become better acquainted with archaeological methods through small projects and the discussion of case studies.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC.



Introduction to Biological Anthropology

The major themes of biological anthropology will be introduced; these include the evolution of the primates, the evolution of the human species, and the diversification and adaptation of modern human populations. Emphasis will be given to

  1. the underlying evolutionary framework
  2. the complex interaction between human biological and cultural existences and the environment.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.



The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Civilizations

One of the most intriguing questions in the study of human societies is the origins of cities and states or the transformation from small kinship-based societies to large societies that are internally differentiated on the basis of wealth, political power, and economic specialization. Most of our knowledge of early civilizations comes from archaeology. This course examines the explanations proposed by archaeologists for the development of the first cities and state societies through a comparative study of early civilizations in both the Old World and the Americas.

(ARCH) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.



Language and Culture

This course will introduce students to the study of human language as a species-specific endowment of humankind. In this investigation we will examine such issues as: 1) the relationship between language use (e.g. metaphoric creativity) and cultural values, 2) the relationships between language diversity and ethnic, political, economic stratification, 3) language use and the communicating of individual identity, thoughts, and intentions in face-to-face interaction, 4) the cultural patterning of speech behavior, and 5) whether or not the structure of specific languages affects the characteristics of culture, cognition, and thought in specific ways.

(CULT) Dist: SOC.


ANTH 11 (Identical to NAS 11)

Ancient Native Americans

This course provides an introduction to the ancient societies of North America. The course examines the populating of the Americas and related controversies. We then concentrate on the subsequent development of diverse pre-Columbian societies that included hunter-gatherer bands in the Great Basin, the Arctic, and the sub-Arctic; Northwest Coast chiefdoms; farmers of the Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon and the desert Hohokam; and the mound-builders of the Eastern Woodlands.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.


ANTH 13 (Identical to CLST 11.09)

Who Owns the Past?

Modern archaeology grew out of antiquarianism, imperialism, and the attempts of early collectors and scholars to look to the past for aesthetics, to construct identities, and to satisfy their curiosities. This course examines how these legacies influence contemporary archaeology, museum practices, and policies to manage cultural heritage. The central question will be explored utilizing the perspectives of the relevant actors: archaeologists, collectors, museums, developers, descendant communities, national and local governments, and the tourism industry.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.


Death and Dying

Death is a universal human experience, yet the attitudes and responses toward it develop out of a complex interplay between the personality of the individual and her or his sociocultural background. Using anthropological, historical, and biographical works, as well as novels and films, the course explores the meaning of death in a variety of cultures and religious traditions. Particular attention is paid to understanding native ideas about the person, emotions, life cycle, and the afterlife, as well as the analysis of mortuary rituals and the experience of the dying and the survivors. The course also offers an anthropological perspective on the development of the modern Western (particularly American) mode of dealing with death and dying and addresses the issue of mass death in the twentieth century.

(CULT) Dist: SOC or INT.



Anthropology of Health and Illness

This course introduces students to the cross-cultural study and analysis of health, illness, and medical systems, conceptions of the body, the nature of disease, and the values of medicine. We examine pain, suffering, and healing as universal aspects of the human condition, shaped by the cultural, political, and environmental contexts in which they occur. In addition to considering the symbolic dimensions of illness and healing, we discuss issues of global health inequality, human rights, and social suffering.

(CULT) Dist: SOC or INT. 



Primate Evolution and Ecology

Humans are primates. The biology of our species cannot be fully understood outside of this context. This course offers a broad survey of living nonhuman primate diversity. The physical, behavioral, and ecological attributes of each of the major groups of primates will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on traits relating to diet, locomotion, growth, mating, and social systems. Students will gain a comparative perspective on humankind.

(BIOL) Dist: SCI.