What does it mean to be human? How did we get to be the way we are? What will become of humans in the future? Students and faculty in the School of Anthropology try to answer these questions--and many more--about our species.
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The School of Anthropology, established in 1915, enjoys a long tradition of academic excellence. Well respected by anthropologists throughout the world, University of Arizona Anthropology ranks fifth among departments in the United States. University of Arizona anthropologists study all aspects of human life from our origins six or seven million years ago to the modern global diversity of populations living in many environments. Anthropologists describe and interpret interactions among human behavior and culture, language, biology, and the environment at many levels of organization, from molecules to ecosystems, in the present and in the past. To place ourselves in the natural world, we also integrate studies of nonhuman primates, our closest living relatives.
Because we ask questions about all components of human life, anthropology lies at the interface of the social and behavioral, biological, and physical sciences. We also interconnect with the arts and humanities. Yet, we differ from related disciplines in important ways. These include: (a) use of comparative, multifaceted, cross-cultural approaches to observe, record, and analyze similarities and differences among present-day societies, languages, and cultures in many environments; (b) a focus on past societies, cultures, and environments as revealed by careful, systematic investigation of the archaeological record; and (c) integration of evolutionary thinking and biology as an essential part of the scientific understanding of humans as a species.
The University of Arizona's School of Anthropology is a "four-field" school. The school offers academic training in four intertwined subdisciplines or subfields. These are cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology. A common theme among the four traditional subfields highlights applied or engaged anthropology. Required core courses introduce students to each subfield and build academic foundations for subsequent in-depth study. Each course surveys theories, methods, and current information relevant to the subfield. Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology 200) emphasizes modern societies and cultures. The Nature of Language (Anthropology 276) focuses on linguistic anthropology and considers language and culture. Principles of Archaeology (Anthropology 235) highlights artifacts and other behavioral-environmental evidence to reconstruct past life ways. Human Evolution (Anthropology 265) centers on biological anthropology with an evolutionary perspective.
It is exciting to be an anthropology student at the University of Arizona. Students can explore the many aspects of anthropology through a wide variety of courses and, in addition, research and other professional activities. The School of Anthropology provides wonderful opportunities to learn about what is human, how we evolved, and what lies in our future. Enjoy your major in Anthropology!