LSC-Montgomery Anthropology Department
What is Anthropology?
Put simply, anthropology is the all-encompassing study of humanity. Anthropologists use many methods to collect data on and study humanity, ranging from the empirical or hard sciences, to more humanistic and interpretive methods. Goals of anthropology include observing, analyzing, and describing people and their cultures. Anthropologists seek to understand how human groups live in varying physical, economic, and social environments. This quest leads us to study human biology and culture from the past through the present, all over the globe.
5 Main Subfields in the Study of Anthroplogy
Cultural anthropology is the study of human societies (groups of people) and their cultures (systems of learned and shared knowledge, ideas, and behavior). Cultural anthropologists study both within cultures and across cultures to glean insights on differences and similarities between human groups. Anthropologists can study any human group, from small bands of hunter gatherers, to larger groups in Westernized and industrialized societies.
Physical anthropology (also often called biological anthropology) is the study of human beings as biological organisms that have evolved. Physical anthropologists use the scientific method to collect empirical data on the human species, our living relatives, the primates, as well as extinct species of ancient humans and other primates. Physical anthropologists may study fossils, past environments, populations, diseases, DNA, and other molecular or chemical evidence to collect this data on humanity. The disciplines of paleoanthropology, molecular anthropology, forensic anthropology, and medical anthropology are included within this subfield.
Archaeology is the study of human culture through material remains. Archaeologists can study any society, both in the past, and in the present, including those who have left written records but also those who have not. Archaeologists focus on reconstructing cultures from material remains or artifacts, rather than observing them directly. Archaeologists use many methods to collect their data, including excavation. Specialties within archaeology include urban archaeology, historical archaeology, and cultural resource management, just to name a few.
Linguistic anthropology is the study of language and culture. How does language influence a people’s culture and how is their culture influenced by their language? These are just a few questions that linguistic anthropologists seek to address. Linguistic anthropologists study language as a complex symbolic system that humans use to communicate and transmit culture. Linguistic anthropology seeks to understand the origins of human language, how languages change over time and with new technologies, and how these complex symbolic systems are both related and different across the globe.
Applied anthropology, sometimes considered the fifth subfield, is the newest subfield of anthropology, though in a way, it reaches and branches through the four previous traditional subfields. Applied anthropology is the use of cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology to solve practical problems outside of academic settings. So instead of only understanding humanity in order to answer scholarly questions, applied anthropologists seek to apply their findings to areas such as business, politics, public services, health care, and land management, to name a few.
All classes are currently offered in spring and fall, with alternating availability for online sections. We also offer ANTH 2301 and ANTH 2351 online in the summer.
ANTH 2301 - Physical Anthropology
3 Credits (3 hrs. lec.) This course examines the biological and cultural study of humans as well as the similarities and differences between humans and other primates. The course spans various topics, including mechanisms of genetic change and an overview of human origins and biocultural adaptations. Introduces methods and theory in the excavation and interpretation of material remains of past cultures and reveals how anthropology can be applied to solve health and medical problems in cultures around the world. (4503015125) Prerequisite: College Level Readiness in Reading AND Writing
ANTH 2351 - Cultural Anthropology
3 Credits (3 hrs. lec.) This course explores cultural diversity through the study of contemporary and recent groups of humans including their social, religious, economic, and political organization. Included is the study of how practicing cultural relativism increases understanding of others’ cultures and how cultural anthropology can be applied to solve human problems. (4502015325) Prerequisite: College Level Readiness in Reading AND Writing.
ANTH 2302 – Introduction to Archaeology
3 Credits (3 hrs. lec.) Archaeology is the study of the human past through material remains. The course includes a discussion of methods and theories relevant to archeological inquiry. Topics may include the adoption of agriculture, response to environmental change, the emergence of complex societies, and ethics in the discipline.
Questions or Comments
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