Anthropology (2018 - 2020)
Fields of Inquiry
Sociocultural anthropology is the study of social organization and the systems of thought and values that both reflect and inform social practice in different cultures. Sociocultural anthropology is interdisciplinary in orientation, analyzing and synthesizing religious, artistic, economic, and political practices through the common medium of culture. Traditionally, cultural anthropology emphasized the study of small-scale societies in non-Western settings. Contemporary sociocultural anthropology maintains such interests but increasingly applies its insights and methods to urban and industrialized societies and attends more closely to the production of culture. An emphasis of the department is the ethnographic study of cultural, social, and political processes that shape our lives and those of other people, especially as we are drawn together and influence one another in increasingly transnational and global interactions.
Linguistic anthropology focuses on how language is interpreted and used in cultural contexts. Language use is socially organized, and it is a key to understanding the ways in which speakers create and change social realities. Studied within historical as well as cultural frameworks and in relation to other social institutions (e.g., politics, education, law, medicine), variation in ways of speaking language(s) adds to our understanding of how social categories such as ethnicity, race, and gender are interactionally constituted across contexts, cultures, and societies.
Archaeological anthropology uses artifacts and other material remains to understand human culture. It attempts to breathe life into a material record that at first glance appears static and fragmentary. The research interests of anthropological archaeologists range from the earliest production of durable tools 3.3 million years ago to the refuse currently being generated by modern cities. All aspects of past human existence, including art, technology, religion, gender, economic and social organization, and food-getting strategies, are addressed by researchers in anthropological archaeology.
Biological anthropology encompasses the study of human and nonhuman primate biological diversity and includes the anatomy, genetics, behavior, ecology, and evolution of humans and other primates. It is linked to the other subfields of anthropology by its commitment to the study of human biology, behavior, and evolution within the context of culture, society, and ecology. Close ties with the American Museum of Natural History and the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo facilitate the department's diverse research interests in biological anthropology.
Anthropology courses contribute to undergraduate education in two ways. First, the scope of the discipline's interests bridges the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Anthropology asks basic questions concerning the origins and development of humans and their cultures and divergent systems of thought, belief, and social order. By systematically analyzing various cultural traditions—contemporary as well as historically known—anthropology raises critical questions concerning the foundations of world civilizations. An understanding of the distinctive way anthropology formulates and attempts to answer its basic questions is a necessary component of a comprehensive liberal arts education.
Second, the department offers concentrated programs of study for the minor, major, or honors student. A minor usually emphasizes one of the four subdisciplines, although students are free to select courses from across the subfields. For the major, the department encourages study in all of the subdisciplines, because each supplements and complements the others in presenting humans as both biological and social beings. The honors program includes in-depth research and writing in an aspect of sociocultural, linguistic, archaeological, or biological anthropology, as well as the pursuit of additional advanced course work at the senior undergraduate and graduate level.
The director of undergraduate studies (DUS) works closely with anthropology majors and minors in designing programs of study that integrate their individual goals with the offerings and intellectual goals of the department and complementary disciplines. Majors should meet with the DUS at least once per semester, typically just prior to registration for the next semester, to discuss their progress through the program, decide on future course work, and discuss post-graduation plans.
The department prides itself on its graduate and undergraduate programs' integrated nature, which enables major, minor, and honors students to participate in a variety of challenging graduate courses and seminars. Additionally, an active Anthropology Undergraduate Student Association (AUSA) connects students to one another through special events and an e-mail forum.
Major in Anthropology
The major in anthropology consists of nine 4-point courses (36 points), which include the following four required courses (16 points):
- Culture, Power, Society (formerly Human Society and Culture; ANTH-UA 1)
- Human Evolution (ANTH-UA 2)
- Archaeology: Early Societies and Cultures (ANTH-UA 3)
- Language, Culture, and Society (formerly Anthropology of Language; ANTH-UA 17; offered only in the spring semester)
The remaining elective courses for the major (five courses/20 points) may be selected from any subfield of anthropology. Students must take at least five courses from the Department of Anthropology at New York University in order to receive a major in anthropology from NYU, and a grade of C or better is required in every course to be counted toward the major. Students are not required to focus on any one of the subfields of anthropology represented in the department, but rather are free to choose elective courses that accommodate their interests as narrowly or broadly as they see fit, in consultation with the DUS. Internships approved by the DUS are encouraged, but internship credits may not be applied toward the major. Independent study courses, conducted under the supervision of a departmental faculty member, are also encouraged and can be applied toward the major, up to a limit of 8 credits. Majors should consult regularly with the DUS in order to take full advantage of the seminars and research opportunities open to them.
Joint Majors with Classical Civilization and Linguistics
In collaboration with the Department of Classics and the Department of Linguistics, the Department of Anthropology also offers two joint majors. Joint majors consist of 20 points (five 4-point courses) in anthropology and 20 points in the joint department. A grade of at least C is required in every course to be counted toward the joint major. Joint majors should consult regularly with the DUS in anthropology and the DUS in the joint department in order to take full advantage of the seminars and research opportunities open to them.
Joint major with the Department of Classics: The joint major in anthropology and classical civilization emphasizes the importance of anthropological approaches to understanding the social orders and institutions of the classical world. One anthropology course, Culture, Power, Society (ANTH-UA 1), is required, along with four other anthropology electives chosen in consultation with the DUS of each department. Twenty points are required in classics. See classics section in this Bulletin for additional information. All courses must be completed with a C or better.
Joint major with the Department of Linguistics: The joint major in anthropology and linguistics emphasizes the complementary nature of anthropological and sociolinguistic approaches to language. Students are required to take five 4-point courses (20 points) each from the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Linguistics, and a grade of at least C is required in every course to be counted toward the joint major.
- Required courses in anthropology are Culture, Power, Society (ANTH-UA 1), Language, Culture and Society (ANTH-UA 17), Language, Power, and Identity (ANTH-UA 16), and two other cultural or linguistic anthropology courses approved by the Department of Anthropology's DUS.
- Required courses in linguistics are Language (LING-UA 1), Language and Society (LING-UA 15), and at least two of the following: Bilingualism (LING-UA 18); Language, Literacy, and Society (LING-UA 20); Sex, Gender, and Language (LING-UA 21); African American Vernacular English: Language and Culture (LING-UA 23); Language and Liberation at Home in the Caribbean and Abroad (LING-UA 26); and Language in Latin America (LING-UA 30).
The fifth course in linguistics may be an additional course from the above list or another course that the department offers, chosen in consultation with the DUS in the Department of Linguistics. See linguistics section in this Bulletin for additional information. Joint anthropology-linguistics majors should also consult with Professor Bambi Schieffelin in the Department of Anthropology and the DUS in the Department of Linguistics for aid in developing their program of study.
Global Public Health/Anthropology Major
The College of Arts and Science (CAS) and the Department of Anthropology offer students the opportunity to pursue a major that combines anthropology and global public health. Students pursuing this combined program will complete core and elective courses in both areas.
The major provides interdisciplinary training that embraces the natural convergence of society, culture and health, and draws on the Department of Anthropology's strength in bridging the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. A major in global public health/anthropology prepares students to analyze various cultural traditions through the lens of health; to examine complex relationships within economic, political, cultural, physical, and biological environments; and to apply anthropological approaches to public health problems. The major is designed to prepare students for multidisciplinary careers in a variety of settings and/or for advanced academic training in public health, anthropology, or other related fields.
Students in this combined major must talk to the DUS or departmental liaison with GPH in the Department of Anthropology to work out a course plan. The following are the fifteen courses (60 points) required for the major:
Global public health requirements (seven courses/28 points):
- Health and Society in a Global Context (UGPH-GU 10)
- Biostatistics (UGPH-GU 20)
- Epidemiology (UGPH-GU 30)
- Health Policy in a Global World (UGPH-GU 40)
- Environmental Health in a Global World (UGPH-GU 50)
- GPH Internship (UGPH-GU 60)
- One semester of advanced foreign language (above intermediate II level). Students who present AP or other advanced standing credit that is equivalent to completion of at least one course above intermediate two have satisfied the requirement. Students who take an NYU language placement exam and demonstrate proficiency equivalent to completion of at least one course above the intermediate two level (i.e., they at least place into the second course above intermediate two) have also met this requirement.
- One semester of study away
Anthropology core courses (three courses/12 points):
- Culture, Power, Society (ANTH-UA 1)
- Medical Anthropology (ANTH-UA 35)
- Global Biocultures (ANTH-UA 36)
Anthropology elective courses (three courses/12 points), chosen from:
- Human Evolution (ANTH-UA 2)
- Language, Power and Identity (ANTH-UA 16)
- Conversations in Everyday Life (ANTH-UA 32)
- Human Variation (ANTH-UA 51)
- Evolutionary Medicine (ANTH-UA 55)
- Emerging Diseases (ANTH-UA 80)
- Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality (ANTH-UA 112)
- Disability Worlds (ANTH-UA 113)
- Race, Difference, and Social Inequality (ANTH-UA 323)
- Introduction to Forensic Anthropology (ANTH-UA 326)
- Human Rights and Culture (ANTH-UA 331)
- The Social Life of Food: Producing, Selling, Cooking, Sharing, Eating (ANTH-UA 410)
Major electives (two courses/8 points):
- Two additional electives must be completed in the GPH program or anthropology, by advisement.
For descriptions of GPH (UGPH-GU) courses, and for all policies applying to the major (including those for transfer students), please see the global public health section of this Bulletin.
Minor in Anthropology
The minor in anthropology consists of 16 points (any four 4-point courses) in the department. The "principles" courses Culture, Power, Society (ANTH-UA 1), Human Evolution (ANTH-UA 2), Archaeology: Early Societies and Cultures (ANTH-UA 3), and Language, Culture, and Society (ANTH-UA 17) are recommended as overviews of the discipline and as prerequisites for more advanced courses. Minors consult with the DUS to design a program that best accommodates their interests. A grade of C or better is required in every course to be counted toward the minor. Students must take at least two courses from the Department of Anthropology at New York University in order to receive a minor in anthropology from NYU. Internship credits cannot be counted toward the minor, but independent study credits (no more than 4) are acceptable.
A degree in anthropology is awarded with honors to selected anthropology majors who apply for admission to the program through the DUS during their junior year. Honors program candidates are expected to meet all the requirements for the program and to maintain an overall grade point average of 3.65 and an average of 3.65 in the major. Candidates for the honors program must complete a total of ten 4-point courses (40 points) in anthropology, including the two-semester research/thesis writing sequence, Honors Research I (ANTH-UA 950) and Honors Research II (ANTH-UA 951) taken in the senior year, plus at least one graduate course, typically taken in the junior or senior year. All of these courses count toward the major.
In the spring semester of the junior year, students will secure a faculty supervisor for their honors thesis. (In January of the senior year, the student will choose a second faculty reader in consultation with the thesis supervisor). In the fall semester of the senior year, all thesis writers from across departmental subdisciplines enroll in Honors Research I (ANTH-UA 950), a seminar course in which research methods are taught and individualized to fit each student's topic—e.g., assembling a bibliography; constructing hypotheses; using secondary, primary, and occasionally original sources to generate data; and analyzing data. In the spring semester, all thesis writers enroll in Honors Research II (ANTH-UA 951), a seminar course in which students share their developing theses with the group. Honors candidates are strongly encouraged to formally present posters/papers at the Dean's Undergraduate Research Conference and within the department. Feedback will be offered at different stages by both faculty and student peers in the seminar. In both semesters, it is the responsibility of the thesis writer to consult with his or her departmental faculty mentor who is supervising the honors project and who will serve as the primary thesis reader.
Students must obtain permission from the director of undergraduate studies to register for the independent study courses ANTH-UA 997 or 998 (2 or 4 points per term; 6 or 8 points may be appropriate in exceptional cases). Independent study is an opportunity for students to work closely with a faculty advisor on a project related to their area of study. Students must choose a member of the faculty in their area of study with whom they have taken at least one anthropology course. After securing approval from a faculty member in writing, the student should see the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) in order to register for an independent study course.
It is imperative that students meet on a regular basis with their faculty advisor throughout the semester in which they are doing the independent study. Upon completion of the independent study, the faculty advisor must present written proof that the student has completed all course work for the study to the DUS, along with the student's final grade.
Independent study units can be applied towards the major and minor in anthropology and can fulfill one of the student's elective requirements, provided that the student earns a grade of at least C. A maximum of 8 units of independent study can be applied to the 36 units required for the major in Anthropology, and a maximum of 4 units of independent study can be applied to the 16 units required for the minor.
Only anthropology majors who have the permission of the director of undergraduate studies may register for the internship courses ANTH-UA 980 or 981 (2 or 4 points per term). Internship credits cannot be applied toward the major. Internships are opportunities for students to gain practical work experience relevant to anthropology and are sponsored by selected institutions, agencies, and research laboratories. Internships are negotiated between the student, the internship sponsor, and a faculty member in anthropology who will supervise the internship. The expected time commitment for internships is 8 hours per week for 4 credits.
On the internship form, which is available in the department office, the student will describe the intended internship, indicating how it is relevant to their academic training in anthropology. The statement should also include an outline of the professional and educational duties and responsibilities of the student intern. The student, the department faculty, and the internship site sponsor will each sign the form, which the student will return to the department.
The student will submit weekly or other periodic reports to her/his anthropology faculty supervisor describing the internship's activities and what she/he has learned. These reports will serve as self-assessments of the professional and educational component of the internship, and will contribute to the student's final grade.
At the end of the internship period, the internship site sponsor will provide the anthropology faculty supervisor with a written account of the student's activities, responsibilities, number of hours per week spent on the internship, and a brief report describing and assessing the student intern's work, which will contribute to the student's final grade. The student's final grade will be determined and submitted by the department faculty supervisor.