By: Dana Reynolds – Staff Writer
If you are considering a major in anthropology, you have probably started asking questions such as, “What courses should I take?” or, “How many credits are required?” But a question that probably concerns you and your parents more is, “What are you going to with that degree?”
Many people who choose to study anthropology as undergraduates go on to earn their doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in graduate schools to later pursue jobs as professors.
However, this is not the only option. An anthropology degree opens the door for several different career options in a wide variety of fields, including education, health care, museum curating, social work, international development, government-organized psychology, marketing, publishing, and forensics.
Some of these careers do require additional schooling, but the critical thinking and writing skills learned from earning a degree in anthropology are great in preparation for a variety of disciplines.
Centre does not strictly offer an anthropology major. The college requires students to become proficient in both anthropology and sociology. The major requires a set of core courses in anthropological and sociological research methods and ends with an advanced seminar. Students are able to form their major to focus on their particular interests.
Some of these interests include concentrations in archaeology, ecological anthropology, cultural anthropology, social stratification, sociology of family, sociology of religion, social psychology, sociology of law, and criminology. By combining sociology and anthropology, students are able to understand the totality of the human condition.
It is, however, possible to minor in either anthropology or sociology.
Junior anthropology minor Anne Carol Preuss has enjoyed taking classes outside of her biology major.
“My minor has given me the opportunity to explore interests outside of my major,” she said. “I have been able to take courses like forensic anthropology and human evolution that have allowed me to take a closer look at bones and their articulations in the human anatomy.”
It is due to this connection between anthropology and anatomy that Preuss has chosen to study anthropology at Centre. The curriculum coincides with the information she will be learning in her post-graduate studies.
“I chose anthropology as my minor because I am working towards going to medical school,” Preuss said, “and I hope that the time spent studying people in my cultural anthropology courses and the time spent examining bones will be beneficial for [a career in] medicine.”
Anthropology ultimately seeks to find the answer to questions like what makes us human and in what ways do we differ from other creatures. Anthropologists study the cultural and physical conditions of different groups of people.
By majoring in anthropology, students develop a wide range of critical thinking skills that may not guarantee a specific career but instead provide a variety of options. Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Latin American Studies Program Dr. Robyn Cutright decided to pursue a career in anthropology due to her interest in other cultures.
“I think I was always interested in other cultures, and when I took my first few anthropology classes in college, I felt like I had found a subject that was a good fit for me,” she said. “Then two things happened: I studied abroad for a semester during my sophomore year in Peru and then I went back to Peru that summer to participate in an archaeological dig. I was sold. I loved living in a different culture, speaking Spanish, and doing hands-on field research in the Peruvian desert. That pretty much did it for me. I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist and work in Peru.”
In order to complete a degree in anthropology/sociology here at Centre, students begin by taking ANT 110, ANT 120, SOC 110, and SOC 120. After completing these prerequisites, students go on to complete upper-level classes including seminar and four other anthropology and/or sociology classes of the 300 level or higher.
The majors and minors do not stay put in their seats in the classroom, however.
As part of the classwork for this concentration, students are expected to complete fieldwork projects. What they learn as part of the field research mirrors what they are learning in the classroom.
“Anthropology is a very diverse and hands-on discipline. Many anthropology classes ask students to collect firsthand cultural observations, whether here on campus, in the wider community, or during trips abroad led by professors,” Cutright said. “You can expect a lot of hands-on experiences in anthropology, wherever your interest lies.”
Anthropology and sociology majors enjoy their classes because of how they make students think in ways to which they have not always been accustomed. Senior Miranda Willis vouched for this sentiment.
Her studies in anthropology and sociology have continuously pushed her and trained her to be
thinking one step ahead.
“Being an anthropology and sociology major has challenged my ways of thinking by forcing me to evaluate not only what the answers to questions are,” Willis said, “but why those answers are relevant. Further than that, [they force me to consider] what the motivations are for asking certain questions in the first place.”