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Introduction to Ethnography

Course Number: ATH 208
Transcript Title: Introduction to Ethnography
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: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Explores the patterns found in culture through ethnographic descriptions of contemporary peoples. Introduces ethnographic research methods and theories for studying and interpreting societies. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

  1. Appreciate a broad perspective of human behavior.
  2. Construct a view of culture that reflects how personal and social values are shaped by culture.
  3. Apply current understanding of anthropological methods and theories.
  4. Appreciate existing global cultural diversity.
  5. Recognize the role of ethnocentrism in reducing bias and prejudice in cultural misunderstanding.

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

  • Introduce anthropological theory and methods.
  • Diachronic and synchronic comparative studies of culture.
  • Survey cultural diversity in a variety of environments.
  • The processes of enculturation, acculturation, and assimilation.
  • Cultural adaptation, including independent invention and cultural diffusion.
  • Define ethnocentrism, holism, comparative method, worldview, and cultural relativism.
  • Language and communication differences, including kinesics.
  • Ecology and subsistence methods, including subsistence failure.
  • Economic systems, including reciprocity.
  • Kinship and family structures.
  • Personal and collective identity, sex/gender roles, and group affiliations.
  • Authority, law, and politics.
  • Supernaturalism: religion, magic, and worldview.
  • Applied methods in anthropology.
  • Impact of globalization on indigenous and local cultures.

Competencies and Skills

The successful student should be able to: 

  1. Demonstrate the application of anthropological theory and methodology in comparing different cultures.
  2. Distinguish various culture patterns using anthropological criteria such as political organization, subsistence methods, etc.
  3. Relate the basic steps in preparing for field research and conducting ethnographic projects.
  4. Design an in-depth ethnographic study of a current-day culture, consisting of research steps.
  5. Analyze data from field research in order to produce meaningful answers to research questions.