Eleven courses. Required courses are the three introductory courses (100, 101, and 110), two methods courses (240 or 396, and 241), one theory course (331 or 336), and the Senior Colloquium (400). Students choose four additional anthropology courses, which must represent at least two sub-disciplines (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and Cultural Anthropology), and one of which must focus on an ethnographic area other than the United States.


Six courses, including 100, 101, and 110 and three additional anthropology courses. Students who are interested in a minor should consult with the department.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

These guidelines suggest courses to take each year rather than specifying a required sequence; the exception is Senior Colloquium, which is taken in the spring semester of the senior year. Students can tailor these guidelines to their circumstances in discussions with an Anthropology faculty member. We recommend completing at least one methods course, and preferably both, prior to study abroad, in case the student has a fieldwork opportunity while abroad. Many students who study abroad complete the Anthropology major and a second major, and some complete three majors.

First Year
ANTH 100, Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 101, Anthropology for the 21st Century
ANTH 110, Archaeology and World Prehistory
Consider taking a 200-level elective: refer to Academic Bulletin: Anthropology

Sophomore Year
ANTH 240, Qualitative Methods
ANTH 241, Measurement and Quantification
complete a required ethnographic course
ANTH general electives: refer to Academic Bulletin: Anthropology

Junior Year
either ANTH 336, Social Distinctions, or ANTH 331, Principles of Human Evolution
ANTH general electives: refer to Academic Bulletin: Anthropology
finish ANTH course requirements; study abroad

Senior Year
ANTH 400, Senior Colloquium (register in spring semester only)
finish any remaining ANTH requirements or electives

Senior Thesis

Each student majoring in Anthropology completes a senior thesis based on independent original research. Most theses build on fieldwork or laboratory analysis; some develop new perspectives on material already published. A student crafts a thesis in coordination with an advisor and the Senior Colloquium director. During the senior year, seniors present preliminary work on their thesis research to the department faculty for constructive comments toward completing their projects.


The anthropology program is a unique major characterized by an emphasis on understanding the cultures, meanings, and practices of various social groups in the context of a rapidly changing world. Fieldwork, the hallmark of anthropological inquiry, is built into the department's methods courses and is encouraged and supported in student work abroad.


Eligibility for honors candidacy requires a minimum overall GPA of 3.6. By the beginning of their senior year, students wanting to be considered for honors in anthropology must identify themselves to the department faculty and submit a two-page proposal for an honors project to the department chair. In the senior year, the prospective honors student participates in the senior colloquium. The quality of the senior colloquium project, judged "exceptional" by the anthropology faculty, is the primary basis for awarding honors to graduating seniors at the end of the spring semester.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Most students majoring in anthropology study abroad at some point during their time at Dickinson.  Others pursue opportunities for off-campus study in the United States. Students gain unique, hands-on experience in anthropology by participating in field schools in cultural anthropology or archaeology, or through internships at museums and other sites. Opportunities for such experience exist with the Summer Field School in Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 396), for the six-week summer ethnographic field school in Tanzania, East Africa, or for other field schools.


100 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of biological anthropology. We will examine the development of evolutionary theory. We will then apply evolutionary theory to understand principles of inheritance, familial and population genetics in humans, human biological diversity and adaptations to different environments, behavioral and ecological diversity in nonhuman primates, and the analysis of the human skeleton and fossil record to understand the origin and evolution of the human family.
Three hours classroom and three hours laboratory a week. Offered three semesters over a two-year period.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Foundations (ESFN), Lab Sciences

101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
This course is a comprehensive introduction to how cultural anthropologists study culture and society in diverse contexts. We will use ethnographic case studies from across the world to examine the ways people experience and transform social relationships and culture in areas including families, gender, ethnicity, health, religion, exchange, science, and even what it means to be a person. We will examine how culture and society are embedded within, shape, and are shaped by forces of economics, politics, and environment.
Offered every semester.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Global Diversity, Social Sciences, Sustainability Connections

110 Archaeology and World Prehistory
Archaeology is the primary means by which we decipher human prehistory. Using archaeology as a guide we will start with the origins of culture from its rudimentary beginnings nearly 4 million years ago, follow the migrations of hunters and gatherers, explore the first farming villages and eventually survey the complex urban civilizations of the Old and New Worlds. We will examine the development of technology, economic and social organization through the lens of archaeological techniques and discoveries throughout the world.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 110. Offered every year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Arts, ENST Env Stud Spec (ESSP), Food Studies Elective, Global Diversity, SINE Elective, Social Sciences

210 Language and Culture
This course examines the relationship of language to culture and society. It includes the study of sociolinguistics, language acquisition, cognition, and descriptive linguistics. The student is introduced to major perspectives on language from Whorf, Hymes, de Saussure, and Levi-Strauss.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Social Sciences

211 Sociolinguistics
Sociolinguistics is the branch of linguistics which studies language as social and cultural phenomena. Language is inseparably associated with members of a society where it is spoken, and thus social factors are inevitably reflected in those members' speech. This course surveys topics on language and social class, language and ethnicity, language and gender, language and context, language and social interactions, language and nation, and language and geography. These topics show how language unites speakers as much as it divides speakers within a society and/or across societies. The topics are approached through lectures, class discussions, readings, as well as social surveys.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Social Sciences

212 Development Anthropology
Sociocultural change, development, and modernization in both Western society and the Third World are examined in terms of theory and practice. Emphasis is on the planning, administration, and evaluation of development projects in agriculture, energy, education, health, and nutrition. The increasingly important role of professional anthropologists and anthropological data is examined in the context of government policies and international business.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), INST Globaliz & Sustain Course, SINE Elective, Social Sciences

214 Ecological Anthropology
An examination of human adaption to changing environments with an emphasis on systems analysis. Special attention to development and current environmental problems.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Society (ESSO), INST Globaliz & Sustain Course, SINE Elective, Social Sciences

216 Medical Anthropology
Comparative analysis of health, illness, and nutrition within environmental and socio-cultural contexts. Evolution and geographical distribution of disease, how different societies have learned to cope with illness, and the ways traditional and modern medical systems interact.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Health Studies Elective, NRSC Non-Div 3 Elective, Social Sciences, Sustainability Connections

217 Gender, Culture, and Transnationalism
This course draws together three important ideas in anthropology --gender, culture, and transnationalism -- to provide insight into the basis for similarities and variations in gender constructs, roles, and statuses across different cultural, political, and economic landscapes. While the course is comparative, it also examines the margins of populations and more abstract collectivities to analyze how new, hybrid gender identities and imagined cultures are produced and experienced, as people and ideas move around the globe.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, Global Diversity, INST Globaliz & Sustain Course, Social Sciences

218 Biosocial Aspects of Female Sexuality
This course explores the biological and cultural aspects of being female. We first examine ecology and reproduction in nonhuman primates, and anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system. We then explore biological and social aspects of being female throughout the human life cycle, including sexual differentiation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senescence. Finally, we discuss important issues related to female sexuality from a cross-cultural perspective, such as sex and gender roles, sexual orientation, birth control and family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, body image, and violence against women.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Social Sciences

222 Contemporary Peoples of Latin America
An examination of the life of present-day primitive and peasant peoples of Middle and South America. These societies are seen holistically, and as they relate to urban and state centers.
This course is cross-listed as LALC 222. Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), INST Latin America Course, Lat Am, Latino, Carib St Elect, Portuguese & Brazilian Studies, Social Sciences

223 Native Peoples of Eastern North America
See course description with History 389 listing.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Social Sciences

225 Human Osteology
This course offers an intensive examination of human biological diversity as revealed through the study of human skeletal remains. We will focus on techniques used to identify skeletal remains in archaeological, paleontological, and forensic contexts, as well as examining human skeletal responses to environmental stress and human growth and development throughout the life cycle.
Prerequisite: 100 or 229 or permission of the instructor. Offered every other year.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Health Studies Elective

229 Principles of Human Variation and Adaptation
This course explores anthropological perspectives on modern human biological diversity. We examine genetic variation, biological and cultural responses to environmental stressors, including climate, altitude, nutrition, infectious and chronic diseases, and population growth and demography. We use our understanding of human biological diversity to examine the notion that race is a social phenomenon with no true biological meaning.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Food Studies Elective, Social Sciences

230 Ethnography of Postcolonial Africa
This course is intended as both an introduction to the ethnography of Africa and an examination of postcolonial situations in Africa. We will learn a great deal about the cultural, social, political, and economic diversity of the continent while avoiding the typological thinking that once characterized area studies. Through ethnography we will learn about African cultures, their historical contingencies, and their entanglements in various fields of power. We will assess the changing influences of pre-colonial traditions, colonialism, postcolonial states, and the global economy.
Offered every fall.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Global Diversity, INST Africa Course, Social Sciences

232 Modern China and Its Diaspora Communities
This is a comparative course that examines contemporary Chinese communities in the PRC, as well as Chinese immigrant cultures located in Southeast Asia and the U.S. The focus is on both the structure of these communities and the processes of identity formation and re-imagining the "home" country or "native place" in the midst of considerable flux. The course explicitly uses comparison to deconstruct staid truths about "the Chinese" and monolithic "Chinese culture."
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, EASN Elective Set 3, Global Diversity, INST Asia Course, Social Sciences

233 Anthropology of Religion
A cross-cultural survey of the functions of religion, magic, and myth in simple and complex societies. Religion and communication. Myth and social structure. A historical summary of the scientific study of religion.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Global Diversity, Social Sciences

234 African Diaspora
This course examines the presence and contributions of people of African descent outside the African continent. While we generalize about the Black diasporic experience across continents, we also pause to examine the ways that stories unfold in particular places and at specific historical moments. Because most representations of Africa and her descendants have left Africans on the margins of world history, in this course we pay particular attention to alternative ways of understanding Black diaspora. We draw upon case studies from the United States, the Caribbean, Brazil and Europe during different historical periods.
Cross-listed with AMST and SOCI. Offered every other year.
Attributes: AFST - Diaspora Course, Appropriate for First-Year, INST Africa Course, Social Sciences, US Diversity

235 State and Ethnicity in Upland Asia
This course examines the borderlands shared by states in upland Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Burma and Laos, with China. It looks at dimensions of contemporary migrations and transnationalism among populations historically marginalized, such as the Hmong, and among populations that have a strong identification with states. Linked to political economies and global markets, nationalism and other ideologies defining peoples and their cultures are explored with an eye toward understanding how ideas about race and the other take shape.
Offered every other year.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Global Diversity, INST Asia Course, Social Sciences

236 Japanese Society
This course is an introduction to contemporary Japanese society. The course examines what everyday life is like in Japan from anthropological and historical perspectives. It explores such major social institutions as families, gender, communities, workplaces, and belief systems. The course focuses as well on the ways in which modernization has affected these institutions and the identities of Japanese people.
Attributes: ANTH Ethnographic Course, EASN Elective Set 3, Global Diversity, Social Sciences

240 Qualitative Methods
This course introduces students to the theory and methods of social science research, beginning with an examination of the philosophies underlying various research methodologies. The course then focuses on ethnographic field methods, introducing students to the techniques of participant observation, structured and informal interviewing, oral histories, sociometrics, and content analysis. Students design their own field projects.
Prerequisite:ANTH 101 or SOCI 110.
Attributes: Social Sciences

241 Measurement and Quantification in the Social Sciences
This course focuses on quantitative data analysis. Students learn how to design, code, and analyze interviews and surveys. Selected databases and statistical programs are used to analyze current social issues and compare samples.
Prerequisite: At least one course in SOCI, ANTH or AMST.
Attributes: ARCH Area A Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, LPPM Empirical Social Analysis, Quantitative Reasoning

245 Selected Topics Anthropology
Courses offered on an occasional basis that cover special topics such as African women in development, theories of civilization, anthropology and demography, or anthropological genetics.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Social Sciences

251 Paleolithic Archaeology
This course reviews the formative phases in the development of prehistoric cultures and societies during the Plio-Pleistocene in Africa, Europe, and Asia up to the Mesolithic. Archaeological evidence of ecology, subsistence systems, technology, and the evolution of cognitive behavior will be discussed in detail.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 251.
Attributes: ARCH Area A Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Global Diversity, Social Sciences

255 Global Eastern Africa
This course examines global connections in the intersections of culture and power that underlie contemporary issues in eastern Africa. The globally marketed indigenous cultures and exotic landscapes of eastern Africa, like current dilemmas of disease and economic development, are products of complex local and transnational processes (gendered, cultural, social, economic, and political) that developed over time. To understand ethnicity, the success or failure of development projects, the social and economic contexts of tourism, responses to the AIDS crisis, the increasing presence of multinational corporations, and other contemporary issues, we will develop an ethnographic perspective that situates cultural knowledge and practice in colonial and postcolonial contexts. While our focus is on eastern Africa, the course will offer students ways to think about research and processes in other contexts.
Offered every two years.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Global Diversity, INST Africa Course, Social Sciences

256 Health and Healing in Africa
This course addresses three interrelated aspects of health and healing in Africa. We examine health in Africa from a biomedical perspective, learning about disease, morbidity, mortality, and biomedical care. We place African health and health care into a framework of political economy, examining the causes and consequences of illness and disease and the forces that shape and constrain care. We also examine the cultural and historical dimensions of health and healing in specific regions of the continent, bringing ethnographic knowledge to bear on contemporary health problems and thereby gaining an understanding of the lived experiences of health and healing in Africa.
Attributes: ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Global Diversity, NRSC Non-Div 3 Elective, Social Sciences

260 Environmental Archaeology
The study of the human past requires knowledge of the biological and geophysical systems in which cultures developed and changed. This course explores past environments and the methods and evidence used to reconstruct them. Emphasis is on the integration of geological, botanical, zoological, and bioarchaeological data used to reconstruct Quaternary climates and environments.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 260. Offered every two years.
Attributes: ARCH Area A Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Society (ESSO), Food Studies Elective, SINE Elective, Social Sciences

261 Archaeology of North America
This course reviews Pre-Columbian landscapes north of Mesoamerica. We consider topics including the timing and process of the initial peopling of the continent, food production, regional systems of exchange, development of social hierarchies, environmental adaption and the nature of initial colonial encounters between Europeans and Native Americans. These questions are addressed primarily by culture area and region.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 261. Offered every two years.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Social Sciences, US Diversity

262 South American Archaeology
This course examines the development of prehistoric societies in the South American continent through archaeological data. This course will explore the interactions of culture, economics, and politics in the prehistory of two major regions: the western Andean mountains and Pacific coast, and the eastern lowlands focusing on the Amazon River basin and Atlantic coast. In addition to learning the particular developments in each region, we will address three overarching themes: 1)What role did the environment play in shaping socio-political developments? 2) What influence do ethnographic and ethno-historical sources have on the interpretation of pre-Hispanic societies in South America? 3) What were the interactions between highland and lowland populations, and what influence did they have (if any) on their respective developments?
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 262 and LALC 262.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, ENST Env Stud Spec (ESSP), Global Diversity, Lat Am, Latino, Carib St Elect, Social Sciences, Sustainability Connections

290 Archaeological Methods
This course focuses on archaeological field and laboratory methods through readings, lectures, and hands-on experiences and the data these practices generate. It will cover the essential field methods employed in archaeological survey (pedestrian, aerial, and geophysical) and excavation. This will include the fundamentals of documentation including note-taking, drawing, photography, and map-making. It will also introduce how archaeologists organize and analyze the large quantities and wide range of data recovered in these processes with particular attention to the use of computer databases, especially Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It will provide a general overview of different types of laboratory analysis including lithics, ceramics, metals, plant and animal remains, and discuss the available dating methods. Students will have the opportunity to practice many of the field and lab methods in the Simulated Excavation Field (SEF), and, when available, archaeological sites in the Cumberland Valley. Through these experiences and interactions with a range of archaeological datasets, students will learn how the archaeological record is formed and what its patterns can teach us about ancient human livelihoods. Finally, students will learn to synthesize and present the results of field and laboratory research in reports, a critical genre of writing in the discipline.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 290. Prerequisite:Any two ARCH courses at 100- or 200-level; ARCH 110 highly recommended.
Attributes: ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Writing in the Discipline

300 Archaeological Theory and Interpretation
This course explores the concepts and theories archaeologists employ to develop interpretations about and reconstructions of past societies. It examines the history of archaeological inquiry from amateur collecting to a profession and science dedicated to the systematic discovery and analysis of material remains and their interpretation. It will explore different traditions of archaeological inquiry particularly in Europe and the study of Classical archaeology and in the Americas with its roots in anthropology. Students will become conversant with contemporary trends in archaeological theory in both areas from evolutionary, ecological, and systems theory perspectives to agent-based approaches that consider gender, power, and daily practices in shaping past societies. Finally, students will engage with pertinent ethical issues surrounding archaeological patrimony.
Prerequisite: ARCH 290. This course is cross-listed as ARCH 300. Offered every spring.
Attributes: Arts, Social Sciences

310 Nutritional Anthropology
Food is a biological necessity, yet food preferences and dietary practices are culturally determined and highly variable across time and space. This course examines nutrition and dietary variation from an anthropological perspective. We will first study the basics of food and nutrition, including the nutritional composition of food, nutritional requirements across the human life cycle, and standards for assessing dietary quality in individuals and populations. We will then examine the evolution of human dietary practices and we will explore how dietary variation is at the interface of biology, health, culture, and the environment. We will also learn about the effects of globalization and the commoditization of food on dietary choices, the health consequences of under- and over-nutrition, and the social and historical constraints on food production and consumption in different societies.
Prerequisite: At least one course in anthropology or health studies, or permission of instructor.
Attributes: ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), Food Studies Elective, Health Studies Elective

331 Principles of Human Evolution
This course offers an intensive examination of the evolution of the human family, from our earliest ancestors to the origin and dispersal of modern humans. We use skeletal biology, geology, and archaeology to understand the human evolutionary record.
Prerequisite: Any of the following: 100, 216, 218, 229 or BIOL 100-level course. Offered every spring.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, ENST Discip Spec (ESDS), NRSC Non-Div 3 Elective, Writing in the Discipline

336 Theory in Cultural Anthropology
This course examines how cultural anthropologists conceptualize their research, the topics and people they study, and their roles as intellectuals. Students read, discuss, and apply primary writings on theories addressing culture, society, power, representation, gender, race, identity, belonging and exclusion, and other experiences in diverse contexts, as well as ethical scholarship. Students join anthropologists in an extended conversation about theories, their uses, and their implications.
Prerequisite: 101. Offered every fall.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective, Writing in the Discipline

345 Advanced Topics Anthropology
Courses offered on an occasional basis that cover special topics such as African women in development, theories of civilization, anthropology and demography, or anthropological genetics.
Prerequisite dependent upon topic.
Attributes: Social Sciences

395 Archaeological Field Studies
Application of the fundamentals of archaeological survey, excavation and the laboratory processing and cataloging of artifacts.
This course is cross-listed as ARCH 395.
Attributes: ARCH Area B Elective

396 Field School in Cultural Anthropology
Ethnographic field study of selected anthropological problems in Cameroon or Mexico. Analysis of cultural, social, economic, and environmental systems using participant observation, interview protocols, and other appropriate methodologies. Pre-departure workshops, six-week field study, and post-fieldwork write-up. Two course credits.
Prerequisite: ANTH 240. Offered in summer school only.
Attributes: Global Diversity, INST Africa Course

400 Senior Colloquium
This course is based on student independent research projects, supervised by the faculty colloquium coordinator, with special advisement from faculty colleagues. Students taking the course are encouraged to build on previous fieldwork experience or to develop new, community-based projects. In some cases, archival research may be substituted for fieldwork. The course can accommodate honors projects begun with faculty mentoring and aimed at publication.
Prerequisite: 240, 241. Offered every year.
Attributes: Social Sciences