Anthropology is the comparative study of humankind, in all its diversity, in the full context of the past and present. Modern anthropology began in the 19th century as a way of cataloging and explaining human diversity, focusing on groups seen as exotic or primitive from a Western point of view. Today, cultural anthropologists study communities in every part of the world, including the U.S.

Traditionally, anthropology in the U.S. is divided into four fields:Cultural Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Physical Anthropology, and Archaeology. Some have argued for the inclusion of a fifth subfield: Applied Anthropology, the application of anthropology to practical problems such as health and wellness, social issues, business, education, and other areas.

The Anthropology program at UWS is centered on Cultural Anthropology, though the linguistic, physical, and archaeological subfields are represented in individual courses. The application of anthropological approaches to practical problems, such as health, social issues, education, and other areas - what many consider the fifth subfield of anthropology - is incorporated into every course in the curriculum.

The basic core courses of the anthropology minor are:

  • ANTH 101, The Human Experience, an introduction to anthropological inquiry
  • ANTH 315, Cultural Anthropology, an introduction to the history and theories of anthropology and fieldwork.
  • ANTH 491 Anthropology in the Community (starting Fall of 2012), collective, collaborative research into social life and community in the Twin Ports area.

Electives include special topics courses in Anthropology, and relevant courses from other fields such as Sociology, History, First Nations Studies, Art, and others. See the Course Catalog for details.

On completing an anthropology minor, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of social science research techniques, concepts, and theories that have been used to study the variety of human experience.
  • Conduct research using these concepts, theories, and techniques, such as participant-observation, interviews, and analysis of spoken, written, and visual texts.
  • Identify and address ethical issues in their own and others' work.
  • Cultivate awareness and analysis of the role of culture in one's own and others' worldviews, practices, identities, and lived experience.
  • Engage with diverse people, perspectives, and practices in an open-minded, empathetic, and self-reflective manner.
  • Integrate questions, evidence, and interpretation effectively in written and oral presentations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anthropology:


  • An overview from the American Anthropological Association

    Applied Anthropology. In a recent move to decrease funding for liberal arts majors and move more resources to STEM fields, Florida governor Rick Scott said that his state "doesn't need any more anthropologists". The following response shows some of the important things that applied anthropologists do in the state of Florida.

    A lecture by Mark Allen Peterson on some of the lesser-known uses of anthropology, including business and other areas you may not have thought of.

    More on business careers for anthropologists, from the American Anthropological Association.

  • In the U.S. archaeology, the study of past human activities through material remains, is one of the four fields of anthropology, so technically Indiana Jones might be considered an anthropologist. However, he is a very bad one. Real archaeologists are very careful to study artifacts where they are found, and often learn as much from the dirt and debris around artifacts as from the artifacts themselves. People who grab artifacts and run away with them are more typically known as looters or tomb-robbers. To learn about real archaeology, take a course or enroll in a summer archaeology field school.

  • Anthropology provides perspectives on human diversity and skills in learning about and understanding others' behaviors and beliefs that complement almost any field of study.  Former students of anthropology have found their training useful in the fields of education, health care and public health, business and marketing, social services, speech pathology, language teaching, non-governmental and international agencies, museums, communications, counseling, law, journalism, contract archaeology, and the clergy. Pursuing a career as an anthropologist usually requires further study at the Masters or Ph.D. level, depending on one's goals.

  • In the early 20th century the difference was one of division of labor - sociologists were said to study literate, more "modern" or complex societies, whereas anthropologists studied pre-literate, "primitive", or "simple" societies. However, since the 1930s, anthropologists have studied groups in urban settings and in the U.S.  Conversely, any sociologists study social phenomena outside of Europe and North America. Anthropologists pioneered techniques of fieldwork and participant observation, but today many sociologists use these as well. Cultural anthropologists draw on much of the same social theory as sociologists. Many cultural anthropologists are in conversation with the other subfields of anthropology, which consider social phenomena in the light of adaptation, human evolution, and the prehistoric record - something sociologists are less likely to do. That said, many anthropologists and sociologists today are studying the same social phenomena, in the same places. Because of this, integrated Anthropology and Sociology programs are not uncommon.