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Chair’s Welcome

It seems humanity has never been as simultaneously connected and fragmented as it is today. We need anthropology now more than ever to navigate our understanding and appreciation of both human diversity and our common humanity. Anthropology embraces all of humanity in all of its complexity as its subject. In doing so, anthropology de-centers the self to consider other ways of being in the world, giving us novel perspectives and insights.

Anthropology invites all to consider how so much of what we may take for granted as “natural” is in fact contingent on culture, history, and the social context of the moment. In doing so, it provides tools for thinking through the most vexing challenges facing us today. It is not for the faint of heart. Anthropology will change your mind.

Leveraging anthropology’s unique breadth and depth of perspective on the human condition, our students learn about the full history and experience of people around the world. In archaeology courses, our students learn about humanity long before writing, about the coalescence and dissolution of complex societies in the past, and about how humans and things interact to produce social formations through time via archaeological coursework. In our cultural anthropology course offerings, students learn about perennial topics at the core of social life: how community comes about; how society impacts climate (and vice versa); how language mediates social relations (and vice versa); how seemingly “natural” categories such as “race” get constructed and deployed in discourse; the experiences of contemporary Indigenous cultures around the world; the experiences of Latinx immigrants in the US; comparative perspectices on gender and cultural politics; and many other topics of vital importance today. In our biological anthropology courses, our students learn about how inequality can biologically inhere in the body; health and society in the past; death and the body; as well as forensic anthropology and forensic science and human rights. Our courses appeal to diverse interests also because they draw from humanistic, scientific, and social scientific approaches. We invite you to accept the challenge of anthropology to change your mind—and our world— for the better.

Steve Wernke
Chair of the Department of Anthropology