What is Anthropology & Why Study It?
From the Greek anthropos (human) and logia (study), the word anthropology itself tells us it is the field that seeks to understand humankind, from the beginnings millions of years ago up to the present day. Anthropology considers how people's behaviors changes over time, and how people and seemingly dissimilar cultures are different and the same.
Anthropology provides a framework for understanding and communicating with people from a variety of backgrounds, which is a critical skill in our world. It also provides the scientific literacy that is necessary for solving the increasingly complex environmental challenges that we face.
Anthropology is divided into four subfields: biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology.
- Biological Anthropology is the study of human evolution including comparisons of DNA and skeletal materials with our closest biological relatives, the primates.
- Archaeology supplies a methodology and a framework for understanding and reconstructing both the historic and prehistoric pasts. Prehistory involves deep time: four million years of human development.
- Linguistic Anthropology involves analyzing the use and development of human language. Language, unlike animal communication systems, has no limits in time and space.
- Cultural Anthropology provides comparative and holistic perspectives on the ways in which people behave, think, and create the distinctive patterns with which they identify as groups.
Jobs in Anthropology
Today's anthropologists do not just work in exotic locations. They can be found in corporations, all levels of government, educational institutions and non-profit associations. Anthropologists even work in disaster areas, including Ground Zero in New York and the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
There are many areas of anthropological study....
- Sociocultural Anthropology - Seeks to understand the internal logic of societies through ethnography
- Archaeology - Retrieves artifacts from the past and places them in context to understand our history and its relevance for today
- Physical Anthropology - Traces our biological origins, evolutionary development, and genetic diversity
- Business Anthropology - Helps businesses gain a better understanding of their activities and customers
- Medical Anthropology - Seeks to better understand factors that influence peoples' health and well being
- Environmental Anthropology - Believes that the well-being of the environment goes hand in hand with the well-being of people
- Forensic Anthropology - Seeks to identify skeletal, or otherwise decomposed, human remains
- Museum Anthropology - Interprets ethnographic and archaeological collections to the general public
- Linguistic Anthropology - Seeks to explain the very nature of language and its use by humans
- Visual Anthropology - Documents everyday life through filmmaking
For additional information, go the American Anthropological Association website.
Study Abroad in Sicily: Archaeology Program
- Experience archaeology hands-on in a research environment
- Participate in practical archaeological fieldwork, including survey, excavation, and laboratory analysis
- Discover ancient Sicilian culture