Cultural anthropology is the study of the different cultural groups, identities and practices found within the contemporary world. As the contemporary world becomes one more marked by flows of people, ideas, money and images, cultural anthropology has rigorously attempted to research how the local becomes globalized, and the global becomes localized. The detailed lens of ethnographic thick description of peoples’ local life-worlds is a mainstay for cultural anthropology, but this ethnographic sensitivity to context and detail is nuanced by a sophisticated and theoretically informed vision of how both are affected by structural issues, especially political and economic at a global level.
The major in Cultural Anthropology provides students with an opportunity for study and experience away, either domestically or abroad, and is designed to leverage these experiences by providing a theoretically and methodologically sophisticated standing ground from which to explore, reflect upon, and share those various experiences during a two-semester capstone sequence during the senior year.
For those students who are unable to study away, the goal of the on-campus major is to provide rigorous training in ethnographic methods and anthropological theory so that graduate level training can take place. While the goal of the undergraduate program in cultural anthropology is to provide an excellent foundation for advanced study, the goal is not to be paraprofessional.
An undergraduate education in Cultural Anthropology provides a series of skills in qualitative data analysis and research design, quantitative reasoning, a stress on critical inquiry, experiential education regarding ethnocentrism, and cultural relativity. This training assists in application to other forms of graduate study such as law, economics, political science, peace and conflict resolution, social work, and public health. Students majoring in Cultural Anthropology also have found this course of study helpful in pursuing occupations in government services, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and international business.
Cultural Anthropology Degree Requirements
In addition to the common curriculum, students select five electives for a total for 52 credits plus University-wide requirements and electives.
The minor in Anthropology offers students the opportunity to explore the rich diversity of cultures around the world. Students majoring in fields such as Art, Business, Communications, Education, History, Political Science, Philosophy, Pre-Law, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Medicine or Psychology will find that anthropological theory and method both complement and challenge their understanding of the world.
Cultural Anthropology majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad, and many opportunities can complement studies in Anthropology. Because of the flexibility and breadth in the Cultural Anthropology program, study abroad can fit into the program and the Undergraduate Curriculum requirements.
Drawing upon the strength of Arcadia’s College of Global Studies, Cultural Anthropology majors have the opportunity to study at universities around the world, including in Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain, as well as other locations where the University has exchange programs: in South Korea. A study abroad experience is invaluable for Cultural Anthropology majors as they become ethnographically immersed in a different cultural situation, and benefit from taking courses that reflect different perspectives on anthropology from their host university. Many students use their study abroad courses to explore ethnographic perspectives on cultural issues that are particular to that area of the world resulting in their senior theses projects.
Students are encouraged to meet with their advisers to discuss their career interests and goals. It is important to have this discussion and formulate a plan early so that the international program is integrated with required and elective courses for the major. Cultural Anthropology majors typically study abroad during their sophomore or junior years because of the senior-year focus on research and thesis. Depending on whether a student studies aboard for a year of a semester, he or she will select a courses that substitutes for major requirements and electives. Studying abroad can provide students with the opportunity to take a course that is not available at Arcadia University.
Since it is important that students plan ahead for study abroad, they should consult with their advisers as soon as possible and make their intentions known to the Program Director and the Office of Global Engagement.