Discover Anthropology | Department of Anthropology | The University of Vermont(title)

The mission of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Vermont is to produce influential research in anthropology integrated with an outstanding undergraduate liberal arts education.

Drawing on the interdisciplinary four-field tradition, we emphasize strong training in contemporary anthropological theory, research methods, and ethical practices, with the goal of preparing students to think critically and act as engaged citizens for the common good. Together as students and faculty, our scholarly community mobilizes anthropological knowledge to address questions of culture and its role in a diverse and changing world.

  • Our program introduces students to the distinct areas of anthropological knowledge, which gives them an opportunity to follow a path that corresponds most closely to their interests.
  • Specialized research within the subfields benefits from a holistic grounding in the larger questions and concerns that interest the whole discipline.
  • In recent years, some cutting-edge areas of research have emerged that cross subdisciplinary boundaries, such as biocultural research and ethnoarchaeology.
  • Students benefit from conversations faculty from different subfields have with each other about common and divergent perspectives.

Our vision

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Vermont strives to be a leading undergraduate four-field anthropology program. We aim to excel in research on the diversity of humans and their cultures, providing students with a high-quality comprehensive education in anthropology grounded in the liberal arts, and addressing pressing human problems shared over time and space.

We are engaged teachers. As teachers we strive to make our classrooms feel intimate and engaged–even our largest introductory-level courses–and we all use creative and active learning techniques that allow us to get to know our students. When students come into our major, we assign them with advisors from the relevant subfields, and we invite them to engage with us and other students through a range of formal and informal activities outside the classroom. 

We have a vibrant community on the fifth floor of Williams Hall. Our students will often say that one of the most attractive elements of majoring or minoring in our department is that we invite students to hang out and do their homework on the fifth floor of Williams Hall. Our lounge space is welcoming and there are almost always several people working there, eating lunch, or quietly conversing. We also hold coffee and donuts events at the beginning each semester and during final exams, as well as an Anthropology Town Hall meeting twice a year where we hear from students collectively about their experiences and priorities. We have an active student-run Anthropology Club that organizes field trips, film showings, and meals with professors.

Anthropology Statement on Racism

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Vermont is firmly committed to active antiracist efforts.

Recognizing that the discipline of anthropology has a long legacy of racist theory and practice, we simultaneously remain optimistic that the discipline’s history of challenging scientific racism, celebrating diversity, and engaging in social justice work creates an opening for us to strengthen our anti-racist scholarship and teaching. Only through an intentional and careful decolonization of the discipline, and of the spaces of our work therein, is this possible.

As a department in a predominantly white institution in a predominantly white state, we emphasize that our shared commitment to antiracism must address the histories of eugenic science, settler colonialism, indigenous erasure, and white supremacy that are intertwined with our particular institution and those of our state. We strive to make our department, and by extension our university, one that is more than just inclusive, but also inclusively just -- a place where people of diverse backgrounds and identities can grow, learn, thrive, and celebrate those backgrounds and identities.We recognize that not everybody who we teach and interact with is in the same place in relation to racism and antiracism: some are just starting the journey while others have known it their whole lives. Some know these things only incidentally, others intersectionally.

We also recognize that being antiracist doesn’t simply involve making a declaration, but also identifying and taking concrete action. As a department, as a community embedded in other communities, and as individuals, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • In the spirit of decolonizing our curriculum, ensuring that our courses provide a wide range of scholars, thinkers, and voices from various cultural, racial, gender, class, and ethnic backgrounds, and revising our curriculum where it does not.
  • Working to ensure that our curriculum and courses meet the needs, interests, and passions of the diverse students with whom we work.
  • Openly acknowledging and creating formal and informal spaces in our courses to address contemporary social movements that challenge ongoing racial injustice in our society, among them the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Promoting and participating in rigorously-informed, critical self-reflection and engaging in willingness to dialogue, especially about individual and institutional complicity in oppressive orders that uphold white supremacy.
  • Exploring ways that white supremacy intersects and interacts with heteronormativity, patriarchy, androcentrism, and class bias.
  • Joining in interventions, in both our local communities and the communities in which we work as anthropologists, to counter systemic, institutional racism.
  • Recognizing the importance of the tool of calling in (as opposed to just calling out) in the contexts in which we speak and listen.
  • Engaging as active participants in identifying and replacing structures that reproduce inequality in our own institutional spaces with structures that combat inequality and are genuinely transformative.
Anti-racism Resources
Anthropology Acknowledges Land Appropriation

The University of Vermont (a land grant institution) is located on N’dakinna, the traditional ancestral homeland of the Abenaki Peoples past and present. We acknowledge and honor with gratitude the land and waterways and the alnôbak (people) who have stewarded N’dakinna throughout the generations. Anthropologists at UVM recognize, study, and incorporate in their classes issues surrounding the loss and seizure of traditional lands which has and continues to threaten indigenous peoples around the world, many of whom also lack federal recognition.

"What it means to be Abenaki in Vermont Today, Produced with Vermont Folklife Center."

Missisquoi has always been maintained as a central gathering place, for families who have always lived here and those that became a part of the community.”

Nebi: Abenaki Ways of Knowing Water - Created to help preserve these stories for Abenaki and other people. While the core content of these stories belong to the Abenaki People, each story teller provides their own unique interpretation. With stories by Chief Don Stevens, Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan, Chief Eugene Rich, Melody Brook, Lucy Cannon Neel, Cody Hemenway, Morgan Lamphere, Bea Nelson, Fred Wiseman, and Kerry Wood.  Short film by Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions, LLC2019, in support of the watershed education programs of Lake Champlain Sea Grant, UVM Extension, the Rubenstein School. Funding was provided by NOAA, Sea Grant, and an anonymous donor.