Course Descriptions

A list of all Undergraduate courses in Anthropology.


Lower Division

001 Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

The course examines the nature of culture and the diversity of societies worldwide. It focuses on cultures in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas, and introduces the beginning student to some of the main topics of anthropology including kinship, gender, the world system, fieldwork, magic and religion, race and ethnicity, social change and the political system of societies throughout the world. This course satisfies the Social, Historical and Cultural Understanding, Global Perspectives, and the Common Good requirements of the Core Curriculum.

005 Introduction to Archaeology

Students are introduced to the ancient cultures of the world that existed before written records (i.e., prehistory). Cultures from every world area are studied, including the Aztec Empire, Mycenaean Greece, Mesopotamia, the Celts, and the Inca Empire. Additionally, students gain an understanding of the methods and theories of contemporary archaeology through lecture, discussion and hands-on activities. Students are encouraged to enroll in Anth 011, but it is NOT required. This course satisfies the Social, Historical and Cultural Understanding and the Global Perspectives requirements of the Core Curriculum.

011 Introduction to Archaeological Methods  (.25)

This .25 credit activities course will give students the opportunity to learn some basic archaeological field and lab methods. 

Upper Division

100 Principles of Anthropology

This course provides majors with an introduction to the methods and theories of traditional American anthropology. It is an important transition course for majors who have completed their Lower-division requirements and are preparing for their theory and methods courses. The course will focus on research and writing as well as providing students with a basic history of the development of American anthropology. Students will become familiar with some of the major debates in the discipline. Students are strongly advised to take this course during their sophomore year. This course is limited to majors and minors. This course satisfies the Writing in the Disciplines requirement of the Core Curriculum.

105 Linguistic Anthropology

This course introduces students to the major areas of study in anthropological linguistics including ethnolinguistics, historical linguistics, descriptive linguistics and sociolinguistics. 

111 Kinship, Marriage and Family

For more than a century anthropological research has focused on households, kinship relations, childhood and families across cultures and through time. The anthropological record shows us that concepts such as “marriage,” “childhood” and “family” have been understood in radically different ways, and this course provides students with a historical and theoretical perspective on the anthropological study of kinship as it relates to different issues connected to the state of marriage, family and childhood throughout the world. May be repeated for credit as content varies.

112 Global Perspectives on Race

This course examines the theoretical underpinnings of “race” and “ethnicity” as culturally constructed models. Ethnographic case studies from a variety of international geopolitical regions, including the United States, supplement lectures on such topics as scientific racism and eugenics.

114 Urban Anthropology

By 2030, two out of three people will live in an urban world, with most of the explosive growth occurring in developing countries. Taking the city as a subject of investigation, students explore the historical conditions that brought about cities and the subsequent developments that have given us megacities. The course explores how the city functions as a site to negotiate cultural diversity and utopian ideals. Drawing from ethnographic cases throughout the developed and developing world, the course examines the complex structural and cultural forces that shape the lives of those who dwell in cities, and how urban culture is produced and reproduced under the influences of industrialization, colonialism and globalization.

115 Anthropology of Digital Cultures

Facebook. Instagram. World of Warcraft. This course focuses on understanding digital cultures through the lens of contemporary anthropology. Students will become proficient with digital cultures and environments through both theoretical investigation and ethnographic immersion into virtual worlds, cyber-culture, online gaming and other forms of digitally mediated social networks. Students will engage in fieldwork that examines emerging virtual worlds, migratory practices, and developing markets. The purpose of this course is to provide students with the necessary analytical tools, based on anthropological theory and methodology, to explore, describe, and define digital cultures and virtual communities.

117 Anthropology of Religion

This course examines religious beliefs and spirituality in global cultures. It examines Western and non-Western beliefs, including spirituality, beliefs in the supernatural, religious specialists, rituals, healing, and the intersection of faith and socio-political forces in contemporary life. 

118 Culture, Health, and Healing

Medical anthropology explores the interaction between health, culture and disease, emphasizing the importance of understanding issues of health and sickness cross-culturally. Medical anthropologists also look at the roles of health care professionals, patients and medical settings addressing the relationships between health care systems and political and economic systems.

119 Cultures of the Americas

This course examines the traditional lifeways and contemporary social issues of different North, Central and South American ethnic groups. While addressing the past, the emphasis is on the contemporary period, with the course focusing on the social, cultural and historical experiences of different ethnic groups. Among the topics covered are assimilation and resistance, the social and political power structure, ethnic identity, family systems and cultural values, labor and migration, the role of religion, and status of women. May be repeated for credit as content varies.

120 Visual Anthropology

Film and photography are powerful media for the representation (or misrepresentation) of social and natural worlds. Because we live in an image-saturated society, this course aims to help students develop a critical awareness of how visual images affect us, and how they can be used and misused. The course examines photographic and cinematic representations of human lives with special emphasis on the documentary use of film and photography in anthropology. The course has historical, theoretical, ethical, and hands-on components, and students will learn to use photos, PowerPoint and video to produce a coherent and effective presentation.

121 World Cultures

Each World Culture course concentrates on the cultural, historical, political, religious and geographic factors that shape the lives of people living today in a particular region or country, for example, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, Mesoamerica, Western Europe, India, China, Polynesia, the Philippines, etc. May be repeated for credit as content varies.

124 Museum Studies

Museum Studies is offered in cooperation with Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art, and as part of the Archaeology/Art and Art History split major. In this course students study the history of museums and the ethical issues involved in the collecting and exhibiting of cultural artifacts. The course gives students hands-on experience researching artifacts for inclusion in an exhibition, designing an exhibition at the Museum of Art, and designing and writing the explanatory wall text, posters and brochures for a show. Students also learn to serve as docents and to convey information about museum exhibitions to different audiences. Offered occasionally when an exhibition appropriate for student involvement is scheduled at the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art.

125 Gender and Culture

While sex is biological, gender refers to the set of cultural expectations assigned to males and females. This course takes a four-field anthropological approach to understanding gender, investigating such topics as third and fourth gender diversity, gender among non-human primates, gender roles in prehistory and the sociolinguistics of gender usage. Special attention is paid the to the ways in which gender articulates with other social practices and institutions such as class, kinship, religion and subsistence practices.

126 Field Experience

Guided by an anthropology professor of the student’s choice, this course provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience conducting anthropological or archaeological analysis in the field. Among other sites, students can select supervised work in archaeological digs, community agencies, government bureaus, museums, and political or industrial organizations.

127 Topics in Archaeology

This course introduces students to a major area of contemporary archaeological thought. Possible topics include cultural resource management, mortuary archaeology, the archaeology of culture contact, gender archaeology, historical archaeology, material culture and ethnicity, an in-depth study of the archaeology of a particular time period (e.g., the Neolithic), and archaeological methods. Successful completion of Anth 005 is recommended, but NOT required. May be repeated for credit as content varies.

128 Food and Culture

Food touches every aspect of life. It can be a symbol of love, sex, community, and national, ethnic, and gender identity. The cultural complexities behind the symbolic meaning of “food”  in a cross-cultural context are vast. Furthermore, the political and economic ramifications of consumption, as well as the production and distribution of food, is fraught with significance about what it means to be a responsible human being in an increasingly global world. This course exposes students to the myriad roles that food plays in all cultures, while critically engaging our own cultural attitudes and assumptions about food.

129 Ancient Civilizations

Ninety-nine percent of human cultural development took place before the advent of written records, and therefore archaeology is the primary source of knowledge of these cultures. This course focuses on the practices of prehistoric people, such as how they made stone tools, decorated cave walls, organized their villages, domesticated plants and built monuments like Stonehenge. Special attention is given to topics such as gender, kinship, religion and art. Students also learn how cross-cultural comparisons of ancient civilizations have led to insights regarding the emergence of cultural complexity, city life, social classes and other modern social phenomena. Successful completion of Anth 005 is recommended, but NOT required.

130 Anthropological Theory

This course is Part I of the capstone course sequence for anthropology majors. Through close reading and in-depth discussion of primary theoretical texts, students gain an understanding of the history of American anthropological theory from the 19th century to the present. Students must be in their senior year or receive permission of instructor to enroll.

131 Cultural Geography

Cultural geography studies the way people shape and give meaning to their environment, and allows us to look at the fascinating variety of human activity in the world — the human landscape. Geographic knowledge is vital to understanding national and international issues that dominate daily news reports. This course examines the relevance of geographic methods and concepts to such social science topics as agricultural patterns and practices, ethnic traditions and conflicts, gender, health, migration, political economy, poverty, religion, resource utilization, social change and urban planning.

132 Anthropological Research Methods

This course is Part II of the capstone course sequence for anthropology majors. Students master specific qualitative and quantitative methodologies that are utilized in the completion of an original research project. Students must be in their senior year or receive permission of instructor to enroll.

134 Issues in Globalization

Globalization, which can be characterized as the increased speed and frequency by which commodities, people, ideologies, cultural productions and capital cross national borders, has reorganized the world in fundamental ways not seen since the Industrial Revolution. This class examines the numerous issues and problems that stem from globalization, including transnational migration, food policy and gender relations. Through reading ethnographies about different world regions, students will explore the changing shape of local cultures in relation to larger processes of globalization, and analyze such issues as cultural imperialism, cultural homogenization and resistance. May be repeated for credit as the content varies.

135 Special Topics

Special topics in anthropology include such issues as criminology, sexuality, international terrorism and popular culture. May be repeated for credit as content varies.

136 Applied Anthropology

Anthropologists increasingly are employed in a variety of jobs outside of academia. Applied anthropology involves the practical application of anthropological theory and methods to such areas as business, the environment, medicine, education, social and economic development, and the preservation of cultural heritage. This course introduces students to the methods, theories and roles anthropologists have in the workplace, including issues of ethics, analysis and report writing, enabling students to use their anthropological training in their post-baccalaureate careers.

195 Special Study Internship

This course is usually taken by upper-division students who wish to complete their education with related work experience and is maintaining at least a C average. In addition to work experience (6 – 8 hours per week), outside research and a term project are usually required. Sponsorship by an anthropology faculty member and approval of the department chair is required.

196 Senior Thesis

Honor students undertake individual research, culminating in the senior project and a presentation. This course should be taken in the senior year.

199 Special Study: Honors

This course is only available to upper-division majors with a B average or higher and entails independent study or research under the supervision of an anthropology faculty member. Approval of the department chair is required.