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Featured Anthropology Courses

Fall 2022

ANTHRBIO 167 - Evolution, Environment, & Global Health

Fall 2022, Section 001

Instructor: Beverly Strassmann

Earth is on the brink of the Sixth extinction event, which is predicted to be more devastating than the asteroid impact in Mexico that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. Scientific evidence shows that humans are the cause. Anthropology is the discipline that seeks to understand human behavior both in the present and in the evolutionary past. It can uniquely contribute to understanding how we got here and what we need to do.In the first unit of this course, students will gain a deep understanding of evolutionary biology and how to apply it to human behavior. They will learn the cornerstones of natural selection theory and read articles by evolutionary anthropologists and psychologists who test hypotheses about human behavior. They will be able to answer questions, such as: How do genes and the environment interact to make us who we are?In the second unit, students will study the global environmental challenges of loss of biodiversity, climate change, scarcity of food and water, population growth, invasive species, and sustainability. The solution to these global challenges will require an evolutionarily informed understanding of human motivation, linking the second unit to the first.  Using the findings of the first unit, students will learn which kinds of approaches and proposed solutions to environmental problems are more likely to be successful.The third unit will examine the consequences of our evolved biology and our planetary impact for pressing issues in the area of global health. The focus will be on pandemics and non-communicable diseases, as both comprise an increasing share in the global burden of disease. Students will study the novel insights gained from evolutionary approaches to medicine and how inequality in access to resources shapes disparities in health between people and populations. Course requirements will develop students' abilities as active thinkers and problem-solvers. Students will do evidenced-based scientific writing in the form of three short assignments and a term paper, and they will take multiple choice quizzes each week outside of class. The students of this course, and others like it, are the leaders of tomorrow.


ANTHRCUL 237 - Digital Futures: Media Technologies and Social Transformation Around the World

Fall 2022, Section 001

Instructor: Yasmin Moll

Our futures seem increasingly digital. From politics to work, from romance to family, people around the world are grappling with how digital media technologies seep into the nooks and crannies of their everyday lives. The dominance of the digital both provokes panic about the harmful corporate and political forces they are unleashing and inspires hope about the capacity of activists to create better futures. In either case, the emphasis is on the power of technology. But how do communities and social movements around the world think and do about digital media’s promises or perils? This course goes beyond both the hysteria and the hype to examine the social life and futures of digital technologies from Ghana to Venezuela to Iran to the United States and beyond. We look at the relationship between technology, culture, and power differentials across different world regions, whether those related to race, ethnicity, gender, class, or religion. What assumptions about self and society do technologies encode as universally valid and “culture-free”? What role do media play in shaping our sense of what is right, true, or just? How are digital technologies implicated in shoring up existing systems of oppression or in creating space for resisting them? Each week, we answer these questions through reading about concrete case studies from a wide array of global contexts and watching documentaries about media activism and experiences. Throughout, we explore what an anthropological, people-centered approach offers to understand our digital futures.


ANTHRCUL 249 - Sound, Music, and Noise

Fall 2022, Section 001

Instructor: Jennifer Hsieh

This course investigates human relations through sound, with a particular focus on the role of sound in mediating social life. We will analyze the categories of sound, music, and noise (and silence) in a variety of cultural and historical contexts, paying attention to how these categories change over space and time. Topics include, but are not limited to, the sounds of protest, audio reproduction technologies, noise control engineering, and public and private space. An exploration of how people, animals, and technological objects communicate through sound and sounding practices will further allow us to consider auditory perception as a social phenomenon in addition to a personal experience. Class activities include making audio recordings, going on soundwalks, and making a soundmap. These activities will be completed alongside readings in acoustic ecology, the anthropology of sound, media and communication studies, and musicology.


ANTHRCUL 256 - Culture, Adaptation & Environment

Fall 2022, Section 001

Instructor: Alyssa Paredes

Do humans shape the environment, or do our environments shape us? Using this double-sided question as our guide, this class will introduce students to the ways that anthropologists have examined humankind’s dynamic relationship with the natural world. On the one hand, humans shape the environment when economies and value systems influence not only how our landscapes look, but also how we think they should look. Indeed, what counts as “nature” and as “natural” in the first place differs between societies, across time, and in relation to power. On the other hand, ecological catastrophes increasingly force people to adapt to situations beyond their control. Because different communities are subjected to environmental degradation differentially, the environment also becomes a primary site where humans come to understand themselves by race, ethnicity, gender, and sex. Given these two sides, how do we understand the links between culture, adaptation, and environment?
In exploring these topics, this course will provide students with a conceptual framework to engage many pressing issues, including food industrialization, biodiversity, indigenous rights, sustainability and development, natural resource use, biotechnology, war, toxicity and waste management, and climate change. Drawing on multimedia examples from around the world, our goal is to interrupt taken-for-granted presumptions in the ways these issues are commonly discussed.


ANTHRBIO 366 -  Born to Run: Evolution of the Human Body

Fall 2022, Section 001

Instructor: Laura MacLatchy

Walking and running upright is an essential aspect of being human. In this course, we will attempt to understand both how and why the human body works the way it does, by studying human anatomy and evolution together. We will explore the anatomical basis for activities such as running and walking, grasping and throwing, chewing and digesting, talking and breathing, and sensory perception. The focus will be on the musculoskeletal anatomy of humans and our closest living and fossil relatives. Included in the course will be the reconstruction of the locomotor, dietary and social behavior of extinct relatives, such as Australopithecus and earlier forms of Homo.


Winter 2023

ANTHRARC 296 - Coming soon!