The goal of anthropology is to pursue a holistic understanding of what it means to be human by understanding the relationship between human biology, language, and culture. The subject matter of anthropology is both exotic (the religious beliefs of Australian Aborigines) and commonplace (the anatomy of the foot). The focus of an anthropologist may be global (the evolution of human language) or microscopic (the use-wear patterns of a stone tool). Anthropologists study subjects such as ancient Maya buildings, the music of African pygmies, family relationships among the polygamous Yanomamo, the corporate culture of General Motors, forensic techniques, and fossil humans who lived a million years ago, all with the ultimate goal of integrating that information into a better picture of the human story.
The mission of the Anthropology Program is to provide students with a well-balanced undergraduate education in anthropology that integrates theory and application in anthropology’s four fields: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology, and that prepares them to participate as skilled professionals is a diverse and globalizing world.
Careers in Anthropology
Today’s anthropologists work in a wide variety of settings including business, government, health care, museums, education, and human services. They typically earn incomes higher than the national average. Information about anthropology careers, graduate school, and median income can be found by clicking here.
In the business world, anthropologists are employed to do international and multicultural training, product development and design, marketing, organizational culture research, strategic planning and management. Major corporations such as General Mills, Motorola, Inc., and General Motors employ full-time professional anthropologists in these and other capacities. Many anthropologists work as consultants in these areas as well.
Government agencies also employ anthropologists at the local, state, national and international levels. The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forestry Department, the National Park Service, and the various State Park Agencies all maintain professional archaeology staff. Cultural anthropologists work for agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department and the World Bank, where knowledge of foreign cultures is essential. Police departments, coroners and district attorney’s offices provide employment for forensic anthropologists, who can reconstruct the anatomical, physiological and cultural background of criminals and crime victims.
Increasingly, hospitals, HMOs (for example, Kaiser Permanente, Healthnet HMO), and medical research facilities use the expertise of anthropologists to facilitate the effective delivery of health care to an extremely culturally diverse clientele. Medical anthropology is one of the fastest growing fields in anthropology. Social service agencies and mental health care facilities employ anthropologists for the same reasons as the medical community. A branch of health, forensic medicine, works with skeletonized remains and decomposition in forensic contexts.
Cultural, ethnic and natural history museums employ anthropologists as curators who obtain, care for and interpret museum collections for the public. Anthropologists teach at the college level in a variety of departments including social and behavioral sciences, linguistics, anthropology, medicine, anatomy and physiology, psychiatry, criminology, cultural studies, women’s studies, economics, ethnic studies, business, international relations and regional studies. They are employed at research institutions devoted to an equally wide variety of subjects.
In today’s multicultural society, cultural knowledge and skills are increasingly in demand. No longer are anthropologists isolated in academic settings. Teaching and research are but two of the multitude of exciting opportunities available to individuals who seek to apply anthropology in professional settings. For more information on careers in Anthropology, check out Veronica Strang’s book, What Anthropologists Do.
Anthropology Training at La Verne
Students get the opportunity to work with cast human, hominin, and primate materials, along with real human skeletons. Moreover, they are provided the opportunity to train in archaeological and forensic recovery, along with ethnographic field techniques. Students are encouraged to attend field schools and/or work in internships that provide real world experience in anthropology.