Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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Curriculum Overview

The study of anthropology leads to a knowledge of the world’s cultural, social and biological diversity in the past and present. Although the focus of such knowledge is the entirety of the human experience, students of anthropology apply their comparative perspective to reflect upon their own lives, beliefs and taken-for-granted assumptions. In this sense, anthropology provides a strong foundation for “the examined life,” a Socratic ideal that is one of the founding inspirations of the liberal arts.

Anthropology, the study of humanity, is unique among academic disciplines in being simultaneously a social science, a natural science and one of the humanities. As one noted anthropologist has remarked: “Anthropology is the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences.”

Although it is true that many anthropologists spend much of their time studying and writing about the “small picture”—a remote village, a single archaeological site, a particular myth—it is also true that the discipline is concerned with the biggest, most general, picture. General questions about the “natural” roles of parents, the meaning of work, the function of ritual and the origins of inequality are typically anthropological. All anthropologists, no matter what their theoretical persuasions or topical specializations, affirm the value of holism, viewing all aspects of human thought and action as interrelated. This holistic outlook is perfectly consistent with the nature and goals of liberal education in the modern world. Not only does the anthropology major provide a strong background in critical thinking, analysis and writing, but the anthropology graduate also generally comes away with a broad appreciation for global diversity and a deep sympathy for our fellow humans.

The Franklin & Marshall Anthropology major seeks to balance the learning of factual content, theoretical analysis and actual empirical research in either cultural anthropology or archaeology. Our majors learn about anthropology, but they also experience what it means to do anthropology.

A major in Anthropology consists of 10 courses: 100, 102, 200; one culture-area course; two 300-level courses; 410 (for those mainly interested in social anthropology) or 411 (for those mainly interested in archaeology); and three electives. We also encourage our majors to expand the projects begun in their Methods course (410 or 411) into full-scale Independent Studies projects based upon original field research. Students should discuss research opportunities with their departmental advisers prior to the spring semester of their junior year. The writing requirement in the Anthropology major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

A minor in Anthropology consists of six courses in the department: 100; 102; one culture-area course; one 300-level course; and two electives.

Majors in the Department of Anthropology have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: School for International Training (SIT); Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad; Institute for the International Education of Students (IES); Council on International Educational Exchange. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.