If you’re fascinated by how human societies and cultures develop, then a Temple University Anthropology degree is your path for turning that passion into a career. Undergraduate anthropology majors learn the discipline’s four subfields and conduct field research around the globe. Want to study Anthropology without majoring in it? Our minor or certificate programs might be right for you. Apply today and let our advising team help you craft an academic curricular plan that’s right for your interests and needs.
Anthropology majors at Temple gain a foundation in all of the four subfields associated with the discipline’s comprehensive study of humans and human cultures—archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. Laboratory facilities, internships, fieldwork and experiential learning courses provide our students with practical experiences in all areas of anthropology.
The Four Subfields of Anthropology
The word “anthropology” comes from the Greek “Anthropos” (meaning “human”) and logia (meaning “study”). Anthropology is the only discipline that claims to study humans in all their dimensions, from the beginning of human existence to the present day.
Archaeologists study the remains left by people and cultures who lived in the past by analyzing material remains such as artifacts, human remains, architecture, and modified landscapes and environments. Archaeologists use this evidence to study such topics as how social groups were formed, how systems such as religion and government emerged, how/why humans develop agriculture and other subsistence patterns, and how/why human societies thrive or decline.
Biological anthropologists study human evolutionary origins and the evolution of the unique biological features that characterize all humans. They also study the biological variation that exists among contemporary populations, as well as how biological variation existed in past populations. They consider how the environment, genes and culture have interacted to shape human biology in the past and present. Finally, they study the characteristics and behaviors of living and extinct nonhuman primates.
Linguistic anthropologists study the unique human capacity for complex communication and how human language works. This subfield explores how linguistic and communicative practices shape the ways humans speak to each other, patterns of social interaction, categories of identity and group membership.
Sociocultural anthropologists study contemporary human groups across the world to understand and compare how they create meaning about themselves and others. Sociocultural anthropologists attempt to identify social patterns and practices, as well as how human communities change and adapt as they encounter shifting access to resources, changing political regimes and climate change. To gain an “insider” understanding of how a particular community understands itself, sociocultural (and linguistic) anthropologists spend months or years living in the community conducting fieldwork.
Choose Between Two Themes
In order to encourage students to think across the subfields of anthropology, anthropology majors at Temple focus on one of two themes: mobility and global inequality, which draws mainly on cultural and linguistic subfields, or evolution and human environments, which emphasizes biological and archaeological approaches. Each theme seeks to incorporate material from across all four subfields.
Mobility and Global Inequality (MGI)
The MGI theme begins with the mobility and global inequality introductory course and ends with the MGI capstone course. This theme emphasizes how humans have moved and changed over time, and continue to migrate across the world as they seek to escape poverty, political oppression, or other contexts of insecurity and marginalization. Though it focuses on the contemporary world and how such processes as globalization and climate change continue to remake human life and organization of human societies, it seeks to embed this examination in broader historical processes such as the emergence of nationalism, colonialism, the slave trade and rapid technological change, especially with regard to manufacturing, banking, transportation and mass media.
Evolution and Human Environments (EHE)
The EHE theme begins with the evolution and human environments introductory course and ends with the EHE capstone course. This theme uses the evolutionary and ecological sciences to understand the human condition. It brings together courses that emphasize dynamic systems in human biology and the human-environment interface. Students learn how evolutionary and ecological processes influence the development and sustainability of ancient and modern populations. Courses related to this theme emphasize understanding the socio-environmental factors that contribute to human migration, to the emergence of complex societies and to the ways that human cultures adapt to their environment. We also explore how human societies past and present influence, alter and rebuild their environments, as well as the effect that human-caused environmental change has on human health and disease.
Certificate in Language and Cross-cultural Communication
The certificate in language and cross-cultural communication provides you with the sociolinguistic and cultural knowledge you need to solve language-related limitations in both everyday and institutional communication. The program lines up well with the current institutional mission of Temple University—we prepare students to work and thrive in an increasingly globalized world where language-related expertise, particularly cross-linguistic and cross-cultural knowledge, is a highly desirable skill. The curriculum for the certificate consists of linguistic anthropology courses that cover language and how language is used to understand culture, how languages are distributed across the world, and their contemporary and historical relationships.
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