About Anthropology

What is Anthropology?

When many people think of anthropology, the words prehistoric, fossil skeletons, and exotic come to mind. Some envision early humans living in caves and using simple tools to hunt and to cook. Others imagine distant cultures and people whose ways of life seem to bear little resemblance to our own. Anthropology does encompass the study of the earliest stages of human evolution, as well as the study of peoples in far away lands. But it also encompasses much more.

Anthropology is an especially broad and diverse field that is rooted in the social sciences, with strong ties to the humanities and the natural sciences.

Simply put, anthropology is the study of human beings of every era, and their behavior. Anthropologists study the social, economic, political, ideological, biological and historical aspects of people's lives all around the world, whether it be related to native peoples of Australia or to urban ghetto populations in the United States.

We learn about human differences and also about the many things humans have in common, and we investigate the problems and issues that confront all humans on a global scale.

What Kind of Students Tend To Major In Anthropology?

Students who choose to study anthropology tend to be interested in human behavior, whether it is their own behavior or the behavior of civilizations distant in space or time. The most successful anthropology majors are those who are adaptable and who seek new experiences.

What Can I Study as an Anthropolgy Major?

In the U.S., anthropology is traditionally divided into four sub-fields of study:

  1. Cultural Anthropology
  2. Archaeology
  3. Bio-physical anthropology
  4. Linguistics.

Plattsburgh's anthropology department offers courses in all of these areas, but specializes in cultural anthropology - the study of peoples' ways of life, ideas, economies, politics, and traditions.

Courses in our bachelor of arts degree program can be divided into four parts:

First, introductory courses include Human Evolution, and Comparative Cultures. These are designed to give you a broad introduction to the discipline while at the same time demonstrating anthropology's connections to other disciplines.

Mid-level courses cover theory and method, ethnographic areas, and aspects of culture, as well as world issues. A three-course career-track cluster in an area related to your professional goals prepares you to use anthropology in a career, whether or not you plan to attend graduate school.

And, all anthropology students complete a senior project, which involves creative research and analysis within your chosen specialization.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the Anthropology program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Dr. Deborah Altamirano, Chair
Office: Redcay Hall 121
Phone: (518) 564-4010
Email: altamidr@plattsburgh.edu

Laura Collier
Department Secretary
Office: Redcay Hall 103
Phone: (518) 564-3003
Toll-Free Phone: (800) 398-4801
Email: laura.collier@plattsburgh.edu