The Study of Anthropology

If you are wondering what anthropology is, it is the study of humans in the past and in the present, as well as their cultural and social habits. The subject involves the biological and social sciences and one of its most notable characteristics is perhaps that it endeavors to apply knowledge in order to solve the following types of human problems:

  • Civil and human rights
  • Educational issues
  • Health
  • Gender inequality issues
  • Sanitation

Anthropology in Its Different Forms

The training for anthropologists in the US traditionally covers four key areas, which are:

  • Archaeology
  • Biological and/or physical anthropology
  • Linguistics
  • Sociocultural anthropology

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The Study of Archaeology

An archaeologist studies peoples of the past and their cultures, ranging from the prehistoric to peoples of the present day. Students can expect to study artefacts such as bones, ruins, pottery, and tools made of stone. These objects and other information you collect and analyze will help you gain a better understanding of how ideologies and social groups were formed and how these groups subsisted and what their relationship with the environment was.

Biological and Physical Anthropology

Anthropology of the biological type aims to understand how human beings adapt to various environments and how biological processes and cultural ones work in tandem. Students involved in this area of anthropology will learn about human behaviour and development, and the reasons for disease and early death. Key areas of study include the origins of human biology, evolution, and human variations. Furthermore, anyone who chooses this field of anthropology are likely to find themselves studying biology, the genetics of present-day populations, primates, prehistoric humans, fossils and fossil records.

Linguistics

This form of anthropology concerns the study of how language influences and reflects upon social behavior i.e. how language defines and affects communication patterns, creates identities in society, influences ideologies, represents different cultures, and so on. The study of linguistic anthropology enables the student to understand societal structures such as power and inequality, and how change impacts upon and/or is handled by respective societies.

Sociocultural Anthropology

Anthropology of this type looks at social practices and patterns across different cultures and how people in certain places live. Students will learn the peculiarities of a given society i.e. how it is organized, develops meaning for itself, and is governed. They will also focus on the likenesses and differences within societies and between them (notably attitudes towards class, gender, nationality, race, and sexuality). Students can also expect to undertake first-hand research, which may include observing individuals and peoples. Upon graduation, sociocultural anthropologists will apply their knowledge with a view to improving the lives of people in such areas as agriculture, ecology, education, employment, environment, health, and social change in global communities.

Where in the USA Can You Study Anthropology?

The USA is home to hundreds of schools offering degree courses in anthropology. These include the Universities of Chicago and Michigan, the Eugene Lang College, and New York University, all of which are highly ranked for their anthropology programs. A lot of undergraduate degree programs in anthropology, such as the one available through the Eugene Lang College, are based on an interdisciplinary and multifaceted approach. On these courses, the student can expect to gain a good general knowledge of the subject along with a detailed exploration of the most prominent modern-day issues. The program at Eugene Lang College provides opportunities for internships and civic engagement as well as student exchange programs and the chance to study overseas. The faculty is comprised of people of many different nationalities with plenty in-the-field experience. Once students obtain their undergraduate degrees, many elect to broaden their education further with graduate-level study. What is covered on the curriculum and the coursework you are given depends on what form of anthropology you study.

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What Jobs Can You Expect Once You Have a Degree in Anthropology?

As previously noted, a lot of anthropology students go on to study for graduate degrees, which qualifies them to teach the subject or to work in a wide variety of organizations such as private companies, media companies, government bodies, and independently-run research institutes as well as in human rights or community-based organizations.

Those who choose anthropology additionally gain a good understanding and insight into the behavior of human beings. Certain sectors such as marketing, sales, and business find this knowledge particularly useful. A lot of undergraduate students elect to complement their degrees in anthropology with a Master’s degree in a different subject in order to forge a career in other fields such as business, healthcare, marketing, market research, and the social sciences or in social service or public service. Many also choose to work in museums or in international organizations or in the non-government sector.

A degree in anthropology usually paves the way for all sorts of possibilities and a wide variety of career options in both the field of anthropology and in many other sectors!

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