Anthropology

Fields of Specialization

 

Anthropology is the study (logos) of humans (anthropos). It includes cultural anthropology (the study of living humans), archaeology (the study of prehistoric and historic human beings) and biological anthropology (the study of the evolution and biology of humans and their nearest relatives, the primates). It includes cultural anthropology (the study of living humans and their ways of life) and the related field of folklore, archaeology (the study of prehistoric and historic human beings), biological anthropology (the study of the evolution and biology of humans and their nearest relatives, the primates), and linguistic anthropology (the study of human languages).

Cultural Anthropology-The study of living human beings and their ways of life. The primary research method is ethnographic fieldwork (participating in and observing everyday life). Faculty conduct research in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Ghana, South Africa, China, Japan, Israel, Australia, and Native American communities. They encompass studies in health care choices of elder citizens, museum studies, gender and sexuality, body culture and sports, culture diversity principles, educational anthropology and more. Opportunities abound for students to pursue diverse research experiences on a vast range of topics on human actions, beliefs and organization.

Archaeology- The study of prehistoric and historic human beings and their ways of life. The primary research method is archeological fieldwork (the "dig"). Faculty are engaged in regional and global research. Students may join faculty in excavations of an 800-year-old ceremonial site at Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, a 10th-15th century pre-Aztec society in northwestern Mexico, and a Bronze Age administrative center near Iklaina, Greece. The program also has an archaeology lab and library with one of the largest extant collections of artifacts from eastern Missouri.

Biological Anthropology-The study of the evolution and biology of humans and their nearest relatives, the primates. Faculty members are active in the study of the behavior, ecology, and evolution of primates and of educational issues in the study of paleoanthropology (fossil record of human origins)and human variation. Students have conducted original research at the St. Louis Zoo. They can study Forensic Anthropology and work with the program’s own collection of 19th century skeletal remains.

Linguistic Anthropology-Linguistic Anthropology studies communication in the context of human social and cultural diversity, past and present.  Through interdisciplinary research methods faculty study the role of language in the social lives of individuals and communities, linguistic ideology, and writing systems.

Students may work closely with faculty in designing their personal course of study and carrying out their own research projects in any of the above fields of study. Students have presented research results at professional meetings, in published papers, and at government and community agencies for use in planning and development. Students are encouraged to participate in the program's network of internships, providing an opportunity to practice newly acquired skills. As a capstone experience, all students, under faculty supervision, complete a significant independent research project for the Senior Seminar, culminating in written and oral reports to student colleagues and the faculty. The program encourages study abroad and in other regions of the United States and has scholarship funds to assist. There is an active Association of Student Anthropologists that sponsors an intercultural film series, speakers, and social activities.

Paid undergraduate positions are available on a competitive basis to anthropology majors as teaching assistants and faculty research assistants.