First-Year Course Information

Learn more about courses and opportunities in the Anthropology

About Anthropology

Anthropology explores the astonishing diversity and complexity of human life across the globe. It challenges students to think critically about the assumptions we make about the world and the power hierarchies that shape our everyday lives. Anthropology examines past and contemporary cultures to understand how and why social, economic, ideological, environmental, and political relationships are reproduced or transformed. We integrate the specifics of individual experience, local particularities of landscapes and communities, and broad regional and global contexts to better understand human actions and meanings, including relations of power, identity, and inequality. In our courses in cultural anthropology and anthropological archaeology students learn how to “make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange” through analysis of material, visual, sonic, and textual data.

Courses and Tips for First-Year Students

The Anthropology Department welcomes first-year students into several exciting courses.

Fall 2024 we are offering a First-Year Seminar, ANTH 1031Inscribing Lives: Reading and Writing About Others".

Also offered Fall 2024 is the core course ANTH 1100Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?"[IP, DPI,b]. Two sections are available Fall 2024 and will also be offered Spring 2025. Several seats are always saved for first-year students in these introductory courses. 

Additionally, first-year students are invited to enroll in several intermediate-level courses, which carry no prerequisites. For Fall 2024 first-years may enroll in - ANTH 2100 "Archaeology and the Human Experience" [IP, DPI,b], ANTH 2221 "Global Health: Contemporary Issues, Debates, and Perspectives" [IP,b],  and ANTH 2410 "Landscapes of Power" [IP,b].

None of these courses assume any prior work in anthropology. All of these courses contribute to the major or minor in Anthropologyand all but the first year seminars fulfill some of the college distribution requirements (DPI and/or IP). We encourage students who are interested in majoring or minoring in Anthropology or who may want to take additional 2000-level Anthropology coursesto take ANTH 1100 "Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human?" as early as possible. 

Course Descriptions

ANTH 1031 (FYWS): Inscribing Lives: Reading and Writing About Others (Prof. Sreenath)

For anthropologists, reading and writing about the lives of others is a fundamental practice. It is a powerful way to understand and challenge our social, political, ethical, and cultural common sense, notions of progress and civilization, and ideas of the good life. Rather than contemplate such questions in isolation, an anthropologist observes and analyzes details of people’s everyday life, as lived in different times and places around the world. This course introduces students to the techniques anthropologists use to study everyday human existence. Students will observe people in various settings, write fieldnotes, craft narratives, and write meaningfully and responsibly about the lived realities of others.

ANTH 1100: Introducing Anthropology: What Makes Us Human? (Prof. Lempert)

Investigates cultural differences and connections across time and space to understand our common humanity.  Introduces anthropological theories through case studies of past and contemporary cultures.  Explores methods used to cultivate holistic understandings of diverse practices, worldviews, and ways of being across cultural and geographic contexts.  Students apply anthropological concepts to engage critically with vital current issues.  Includes topics such as self and society, personhood and identity, power and inequality, economic and political organizations, material culture, circulation of people and ideas, ecology and environment, religion and ritual, and relatedness and kin-making.

ANTH 2100: Archeology and the Human Experience (Prof. Reamer)

Showcases human diversity through time and space and the methods that archaeologists use to study the past. Topics include conflicting theories of human biological evolution, debates over the genetic and cultural bases of human behavior, development of artistic and religious expression, and expansion of human populations into diverse ecosystems around the world. Considers ways that relationships to environments changed as people domesticated plants and animals, and the reasons many groups moved from a nomadic to settled village life are explored, as is the rise of complex societies and the state. Examines how contemporary archaeologists address colonialism, racism, and postcolonial interpretations of the past.

Sample Syllabus