Strategic Vision: Anthropology is the study of humans and our biological relatives across time and space. It is the only field to address the diversity of the human experience in its biological, cultural, and historical contexts. The discipline necessarily incorporates a wide range of theoretical and methodological traditions, drawing on and contributing to approaches in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It is the breadth of our vision of what it means to be human, as well as the breadth of our theoretical and methodological approaches, that constitute our unique mission and role within the university. We feel it is of crucial importance to communicate this broad vision of diversity and complexity to students so that they come to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
We view three of the subdisciplines of anthropology (archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology) as important foundations of our program because of their well-defined fields of study. Yet we also believe that recent trends in Anthropological thought offer creative new directions that cut across and bridge the subdisciplines. As discussed in greater detail in the answer to Question 1: Unit Overview, we see our long-term vision as a department that addresses and analyzes social, biological, and environmental problems. We have identified four broad themes that address these problems and potential solutions in ways that cut across the subdisciplines: ecology and evolution, human responses to local and global crises, cultural, ethical, and political practices of worldmaking, and collaborative and public anthropology. These serve as intellectual bridges to create powerful new collaborations within the department and with other programs and institutions that will advance our research and teaching missions as well as create a more integrated departmental vision. These synergies are not meant to supplant the importance of the subdisciplines in research and teaching. Rather than viewing our diversity of intellectual traditions, research foci, and methodologies as a weakness, we see the intellectual tensions that result as beneficial for stimulating new ideas and approaches towards anthropological research and teaching.
Mission: It is the mission of the Department of Anthropology to provide a stimulating and challenging curriculum that will help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity and complexity of the human experience culturally, biologically, and historically. It is also our mission to engage in innovative anthropological research and scholarship that contributes to our understanding of what it means to be human.