“The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.” -Ruth Benedict

“Anthropology is the only discipline that can access evidence about the entire human experience on this planet.” -Michael B. Schiffer

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humans – past and present. As a social science, it is interested in understanding human behavior, in all its diversity and complexity. Why do people do the things they do? Why are human societies so different from each other? In what ways are all humans similar to each other? To what extent does our cultural environment shape our behavior? Does culture interact with our biological and genetic elements to produce what we do and how we think? These are just a few of the questions and topics anthropologists all over the world are very much passionate about.

The Sub-disciplines of Anthropology

Anthropology studies humans of all times and places. Because this is no piece of cake, anthropology is sub-divided into specialties, or sub-disciplines:

Cultural Anthropology

It studies present-day cultural behavior in modern-day societies, in all parts of the world including our own. Some of the topics presented in our courses include the following: culture, marriage and family organizations, funerary practices, rites of passage, religious beliefs, games and sports, body art and non-verbal communication, symbolism and magic, criminal behavior, and ways of producing food.


It studies the origins of language and the roles of language in expressing and preserving a culture. We explore some aspects of linguistics by reading about language differences throughout the world and the creation of new languages in times of contact and colonialism.


It studies ancient human societies through the artifacts they have left behind. In our courses, you will discover that archaeology is not a hobby that collects treasures but rather, a scientific method used to reconstruct and understand past human societies with the help of material remains (tools, clothing, housing, etc.) and human remains. In the end, examining our ancestors allows us to better understand ourselves.

Physical Anthropology

It studies the biological evolution of humans over the last 7 to 8 million years. In our courses, you will see that the entire human existence is just a drop in a gigantic ocean incorporating the evolution of the Universe, as well as the evolution of mammals and primates. You will discover that our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, make and use tools just as we do. You will also learn about the origins of hunting, stone tools, art, religion, agriculture, and writing. The above are referred to as the “traditional” sub-disciplines of anthropology. These have been around ever since this social science was officially born in the 19th century. However, in more recent times, anthropology has seen an explosion of its specialized interests:

  • There are now anthropologists who study and work in the world of international business and corporations. These business anthropologists work as consultants who conduct marketing research and provide multi-cultural training to employees increasingly faced with cultural diversity.
  • Also, an increasing number of anthropologists are documenting the domain of cyberspace and the new behaviors, attitudes, dialects as well as legal and ethical controversies it is creating throughout the world.
  • Finally, a growing trend in anthropology has been to turn inwards and study our own society, its urban aspect and its many problems such as drug abuse, poverty and homelessness. The ultimate intention here is not only to document these problems and the people who experience them, but, most importantly, to recommend viable and practical solutions to help improve our world.

Course Description

Learn More about Anthropology

anthropology-four-fieldsAnthropology provides multi-cultural training particularly well suited for the 21st century job market. The world in which we are now living is international and requires excellent critical thinking, decision-making, writing and communicating skills. Anthropology can provide all of this because it is the only discipline in College that approaches the entire human experience from cultural, biological and evolutionary perspectives. The topics covered are fun and fascinating, intellectually stimulating, and relevant to your daily life.

Furthermore, anthropology complements all academic programs by helping students understand the interconnectivity of knowledge about people and their cultures. College and University students are increasingly realizing that the issues affecting their futures and the information they will need to prosper are found within programs that provide a wide range of topics and teach a wide range of skills.

Finally, in our global society, it is important to be able to deal with cultural diversity. Anthropology teaches us how to approach others in a non-judgmental and tolerant way. It also informs us that an important step in accepting others is to realize that we have much in common with them. In the end, anthropologists promote the idea that no matter how different humans are, we are all essentially the same. Anthropologists study what sets us apart and what brings us together, and carefully examines the role of culture in shaping the lives of all peoples of the world.

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