Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Course Number: ATH 103
Transcript Title: Intro to Cultural Anthropology
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: July 10, 2015
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:
Examines modern human cultures through a cross-cultural and comparative approach. Explores language, technology, subsistence, economics, sociopolitical systems, religions, and human expression through ethnographic examples to better understand global diversity and the dynamics of culture change. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.
- Identify the basic conceptual framework of anthropological study, including the crucial distinction between ethnocentrism and the practice of cultural relativism.
- Define the key methodological practices of cultural anthropology with a major focus on the pursuit of ethnographic research via fieldwork.
- Analyze how cultural systems operate as adaptive strategies in response to physical and social environments.
- Evaluate the diversity of human cultures by comparing ethnographic information from a variety of world societies.
- Assess the dynamics of culture change in order to understand the complexity of culturally heterogeneous societies.
Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes
|In-depth||1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)|
|2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)|
|3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)|
|4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)|
|5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)|
Outcome Assessment Strategies
Tests, research papers, discussion, quizzes, homework, group projects, and other forms of assessment all may be used for this course at the instructor's discretion.
Course Activities and Design
Lectures, discussion, group activities, service learning are some of the potential activities that instructors may use at their discretion in this course.
Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)
Themes, Concepts, and Issues
- Development of anthropology as a Western academic discipline.
- Ties to national colonial projects.
- Contributions and perspectives of women, minorities, subaltern, and non-Western cultural anthropologists.
- Basic conceptual framework of an anthropological study.
- Identifying ethnocentrism.
- Practice of cultural relativism.
- Changing theoretical perspectives in anthropology.
- Anthropology as a way of thinking.
- Distinction between cultural relativism and moral relativism.
- Emic and etic approaches to anthropology.
- Holistic perspectives in understanding humanity.
- Ethnocentrism as a political weapon for discrimination.
- Key methodological practices.
- Ethnographic research through fieldwork.
- Trends in collaborative research.
- International political conflicts as it impacts research and fieldwork experiences.
- Nature of culture shock.
- Importance and limitations of participant-observation and interviewing.
- Ethical issues confronting anthropologists.
- Dynamics of cultural diversity: foraging, tribes, chiefdoms, states.
- Cultural processes: language, technology, economics, social structure, politics, religion, worldview.
- Systems theory: economies/populations/ecosystems, kinship/political power/stigma.
- Voluntary v. involuntary culture change: invention, diffusion, acculturation, assimilation.
- Loss of indigenous knowledge systems.
- Loss of language systems on a global scale.
- Survival of indigenous cultural systems.
- Impact of globalization and first-world powers.
- Role of anthropology in medical, education, agribusiness, and corporate settings.
- Applied anthropology in response to vital issues and new challenges facing humans.
- New forms of cultural aggression such as terrorism and cyber warfare.
- Impact of genetic engineering of food and cloning on the future of humanity.
Competencies and Skills
The successful student should be able to:
- Define the three components of the anthropological approach to understanding culture.
- Explain the steps in preparing for and undertaking fieldwork.
- Contrast two different subsistence-based cultural systems operating in diverse environments.
- Provide comparative ethnographic material as examples of cultural diversity.
- Identify examples of culture change within a host culture.