What kind of questions do you ask yourself?
Why do we look the way we do?
Where did we come from?
What is a civilization?
Or maybe you prefer the really deep questions?
Which way is up on a fork?
What is the proper way to eat?
What is the proper way to say "hello" (handshake, kiss, bow)?
How does one sit? (cross-legged, on knees, etc.)
Any question that asks what humans are and how we got this way is a question that anthropologists are willing to address. We may not know the answers, but we always have some guesses -- and ideas on how to research the answers.
Anthropology studies humans. It looks at humans in both biological and cultural contexts, and studies nonhuman primates. Anthropology deals with the beginnings of humanity, and stretches to ideas about humanity's future. What are we hoping to find? We hope to discover what makes different human populations unique in the ways they respond to the challenges that they face. And, we hope to discover what makes us all human, in spite of some of the superficial differences we observe.
Anthropology introduces a unique biocultural perspective to many areas of study. This approach is useful in any field that involves interaction with people because it helps students to put humans into a broader context and gives these students ways to approach the issue of human diversity productively. Whether you are interested in anthropology as a career (see below), or "just interested in people" -- anthropology courses are useful and interesting.
Why You Should Study Anthropology
The advantages are endless in this course of study. Students will learn what it means to be human, what distinguishes humans from all other life forms on the planet, and what material objects (artifacts) and patterns have been found in human lifestyles. Students will learn about human origins and development, the similarities and differences between humans and other possible life forms, and the variations within the human species.
Anthropology Course Descriptions
Columbus State offers these courses in Anthropology.
Career Opportunities in Anthropology
Anthropological careers outside of academics (No, you don't have to become a professor...)
Note: Some careers mentioned below require only a bachelor's degree, but most require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D. or are careers in which anthropological training would be useful.
Careers in Physical Anthropology:
Genetics and Genetic Engineering
This is an area where one can actually make some money as an anthropologist! Geneticists work to understand the biological basis of human characteristics and apply this knowledge to attempt to improve health conditions.
Population geneticists attempt to understand how various populations are similar and dissimilar. This helps us to understand the prehistory of humans as well as current biological conditions.
This is another area where one can actually make some money! Forensic pathologists apply the knowledge of human biology to crime investigation. A background including anthropology would be especially suitable for this career. Forget OJ's trial, check out Clyde Snow ...
Primatology and its applications to human learning
Primatology is the study of the biological, psychological, and cultural (?) characteristics of our closest genetic relatives such as chimpanzees and gorillas. Just don't go ape on this one ...
Ergonomic and Human Factors Engineering
A car seat should be how big? How can airplanes be designed to allow the crew to be most helpful to passengers in a crisis? Who determines clothing sizes? This field applies knowledge about human biology to consumer products to make them more efficient and useful.
Careers in Prehistory:
This prehistory career pays fairly well. When companies or governments build things (highways, shopping malls, etc.) they sometimes find that the ground they plan to use was previously occupied. Salvage archeologists are then called in to excavate the area as quickly as possible so that we will know about the culture that previously lived there.
Many prehistorians work in museums as artists, designing displays, or as curators for the objects [artifacts] in the museum's collections. Many professionals combine this job with research involving the artifacts.
Prehistorians can apply the same techniques and concepts they use to understand human societies before written works, to look at societies where written records are available. This gives them access to information about everyday people as well as the powerful, and allows them to cross-check the validity of written records.
Careers in Cultural/Linguistic Anthropology:
Many businesses are discovering that anthropologists are very good at helping to reorganize people and business procedures. Rather than coming in with a predetermined plan, anthropologists tend to observe and talk to the people involved. It is felt that in many work situations workers tend to have a better grasp of the job than some of the bosses. This "bottom-up" approach may suggest more productive changes.
Agencies working with cultural change (development programs, etc.)
Some anthropologists are working for government agencies or programs (locally, several are employed by the State of Ohio). Some also work for NGOS (non-governmental organizations). The focus is understanding how to make changes productive and acceptable to the people involved.
Language Recovery Programs
Some groups (Cajun, many Native American Nations, etc.) have lost contact with their original languages. Anthropologists may be helpful in recovering these lost languages so that these groups can renew their cultural heritage. Anthropological linguist have also helped cultures to develop written notation systems for their oral languages.
Educational Strategy Programs
Anthropologists serve as designers or consultants in creating education programs or learning experiences and environments.
American Anthropological Association
Ohio State University Department of Anthropology
National Anthropological Archives(Smithsonian)
UNESCO World Heritage List
Links to the Past: National Park Service Cultural Resources
The Human-Languages Page