Department of Anthropology
Bachelor of Arts
Brooke Hansen, Associate Professor and Chair
The field of anthropology is concerned with the study of humankind. It includes the evolution of the human species and the development and varied nature of the cultures and societies in which people live. Students who major in anthropology engage in scholarly research, fieldwork, and practical training experiences that prepare them for careers in public and community service, education, international development, and professional research. For all students at the College, regardless of their major, anthropology offers a holistic and cross-cultural perspective on human culture that is essential to a liberal arts education.
Anthropology attempts to provide an integrated view of the human condition, and it therefore deals simultaneously with the cultural, social, physical, and historical aspects of the human experience. Anthropology is divided into four fields or areas that reflect this multifaceted approach to humanity: (1) cultural anthropology, which deals with the distinctive patterns, institutions, and lifestyles of Western and non-Western societies; (2) archaeology, which deals with the reconstruction of historic and prehistoric cultures through the retrieval and analysis of their material remains; (3) biological anthropology, which is concerned with human evolution, population genetics, primate studies, and the physical variability of human populations; and (4) anthropological linguistics, which is concerned with the interrelations between culture and systems of communication. An increasingly important fifth field is applied anthropology, which examines the relevance of knowledge derived from these four areas to the amelioration of contemporary human problems in a variety of cultural settings.
The major and minor in anthropology are designed to offer students both background and experience in all aspects of the discipline and to promote creative research and innovative thinking on the human condition. The curriculum takes students through four broad levels of knowledge, critical thinking, and experience:
- Level-1 courses introduce the various subfields of anthropology, including archaeology and cultural and biological anthropology.
- Level-2 courses acquaint students with the diversity of the world’s present and past cultures by means of geographically oriented offerings on peoples of the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, all of which are regions in which the faculty has been actively engaged in research.
- Level-3 courses apply this level of knowledge to particular cross-cultural issues and problems, such as economic development, religious experience, personality formation, poverty, health, social change, and research methods.
- Level-4 courses offer students the opportunity to apply their anthropology in advanced seminars, independent studies, and faculty-supervised field research projects in a variety of cultural settings in Ithaca, elsewhere in the United States, and internationally.
The anthropology program places a strong emphasis on student fieldwork as a crucial part of undergraduate training, and all majors in the department will be given the chance to engage in research and practical experience as part of their education.
Requirements for Honors in Anthropology
The process and criteria by which students may earn departmental honors to be awarded at graduation are fully described in the departmental policy on honors in anthropology, available from the chair of the department. Students with a GPA of 3.50 or better in their anthropology courses who wish to be considered for honors should initiate the process by the middle of their penultimate semester before graduation. They must submit a brief essay describing their anthropology work and development at Ithaca College as well as their proposed honors project. If approved to apply for honors, they are assigned an honors adviser and undertake a project, such as library or field research, that culminates in writing a significant, original paper. The paper is evaluated by the honors adviser and other faculty in the department. The criteria of evaluation include originality of data or approach, command of relevant literature, clarity of writing, and adherence to conventional standards of academic writing.
See ANTH courses
Fieldwork and Research Opportunities
It is important that anthropology majors spend some time engaged in field research. For this reason, there is a fieldwork requirement in the degree program that can be satisfied in a variety of ways. Fieldwork and research experience are provided in several on-campus departmental courses. In addition, the College and other institutions and organizations sponsor departmentally approved field programs outside the Ithaca area (e.g., School for International Training). It is recommended that each anthropology major participate in at least one semester-long field program, preferably in a different cultural area in the United States or abroad.
Cornell University Anthropology Courses
A reciprocal agreement between Ithaca College and Cornell University permits undergraduate students at each school to have access to courses offered on the neighboring campus if unavailable on their own. Anthropology majors at Ithaca College may take a number of Cornell anthropology credits to satisfy requirements within the major. This would be especially appropriate for students concentrating in biological anthropology, archaeology, or anthropological linguistics.
Language and Research Tools
There is no language requirement for the degree in anthropology. However, for students intending to go to graduate school, language proficiency at the intermediate level is recommended. Language study is highly recommended, particularly for students who plan to satisfy their fieldwork requirement in areas where languages other than English are spoken. Many graduate programs also expect competence in other research tools, such as statistics or computer programming.
Support for Research and Student Development
The department has an endowed fund, the Janet Fitchen Student Development Fund, which helps its advanced students cover some of the costs of attending conferences and presenting papers.