Prospective Students | Department of Anthropology | The University of Vermont(title)

Why Anthropology?

Why Anthropology?

We are deeply committed to providing students with an understanding of different human populations and a sensitivity to cultural differences. We do this by offering a variety of courses in all four subfields: sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.  

The anthropological lens is holistic, incorporating more than any single domain of human experience so students learn to think integratively and to identify patterns in complex situations. Our students learn how to use anthropology as a powerful lens for critical thinking about how and why humans evolved; the experience of our bodies through health and illness; the complex factors that shape human histories deep into the past; how human beliefs, social practices, and institutions work; and the social dynamics of how humans use language. Each subfield has many useful applications for policy, managing institutions, addressing social problems, and engaging issues that concern our students: sickness and health, relationships with the environment, globalization, heritage management, food systems, political-economic change, religion, and social justice, among many others.  

What Makes Us Special

A pile of diplomas.

A Versatile Degree

Our approach allows you to explore the discipline through multiple lenses. What comes into focus is a unique perspective leaving you with many avenues to craft your own interests and research. Courses provide you with analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
Inside of a museum gallery.

The Fleming Museum: An On-campus Lab

The Fleming Museum on the UVM campus is home to a collection of over 24,000 objects from all over the world. It's a veritable treasure house of artifacts, presenting opportunities for anthropological research, independent projects, internships, and work study positions.
Students studying in the field.

Hands-on Field Experience

At UVM, you will gain practical field experience in courses such as Field Work in Archaeology, Methods of Ethnographic Field Work, Human Osteology, and Archaeology and Laboratory Archaeology.

Student Learning Outcomes

As part of the UVM Assessment Initiative, the following Student Learning Outcomes have been established by the Department of Anthropology.  Students graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology from UVM should be able to:

  • Provide an anthropological definition of culture and give examples of how culture shapes human life in diverse ways
  • Illustrate the ways in which anthropologists examine and analyze human diversity across time and space
  • Recognize how the four subfields of anthropology (cultural, linguistic, biological, archaeological) differ in focus, methodologies, and conceptual approaches
  • Demonstrate how an anthropological approach can be applied to a range of complex social issues in diverse settings
  • Identify ethical dilemmas in anthropology and ethical principles in research and other practice
  • Develop and communicate anthropological research questions, access and synthesize scholarly literature, and outline appropriate research methods and approaches

Students in the Limelight

Ariadne Argyros: Mayan Site Excavation

I was drawn to UVM initially because of its anthropology program. My focus is in archaeology, but my interest in all four subfields has grown due to a number of intriguing classes that I’ve taken over the years. UVM’s anthropology program incorporates an interdisciplinary approach, which has allowed me to look outside my own frame of reference and understand different ways of thinking about our own and other societies. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had experiences outside of the classroom in which I've been able to apply my anthropological skills as well, some of which include a museum internship, participating in terrestrial and underwater archaeological digs in several different countries, and acting as a docent for a biological anthropology traveling exhibit about evolution. Ultimately, I study anthropology to become a more conscious and productive citizen of the world.

After graduation, I will be heading back down to Mexico for my second season of a Maya site excavation, and in the fall, I will be pursuing my master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies (Ancient Near Eastern track) at the University of Chicago.

Haley Brazier: Teaching English in France

I didn't come to UVM as a freshman— I transferred in my junior year. I came in already an anthropology major, and the department was extremely welcoming. Transferring is a rather intimidating process both academically and socially, but thankfully for me it was a rather seamless transition. I am extremely grateful for both the Anthropology and French department (I’m a double major) for making me feel so at home.

I took a sociology class my freshman year, which sparked my interest in the studies of people in general. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to study, I mentioned to the professor how I loved people and their cultures (I was a clueless freshman who didn’t know much about anthropology) and he pushed me to take a cultural anthropology class. From there, everything seemed to fall into place. Once I took that one class, I knew I wanted to take more. The more I got involved in anthropology, the more I realized how truly important it is and relevant to nearly everything. Anthropology really widens one’s worldview, which I believe to be increasingly important with globalization and the impact of technology. I am so thankful for anthropology for giving me this knowledge of the world, of other peoples, and simply allowing me to feel more confident about my understanding of the world around me, as well as understanding myself.

After UVM, I will be teaching English in France, near the city of Grenoble. I’ll be there for the length of a school year, from September 2018 until May 2019. Grad school is still up in the air as of now, as I’m not quite sure I would study! My career goal is to get involved in refugee resettlement, and I decided on this because of anthropology! I feel my anthropology background will really prove useful in this, as I have an understanding of not only other cultures, but am able to observe my own culture in a way that I could make more accessible to newcomers. As we always learned in class, anthropology is about making the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Ideally, I would like to use my French somehow. We’ll see where things take me!

Maureen Scanlon '16 on "Why Anthropology?"

"After struggling to decide amongst sociology, history, education, or theology, I came to realize that anthropology was the culmination of these subjects and more; anthropology provides me with the necessary tools to explore the historical and cultural significance of any aspect of human life. Within my coursework in the field at the University of Vermont, I have focused on the intersections between religion, colonialism, and capitalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. My recent travels to Cuba cemented my interest in the political economy of islands and the cultural complexities, power dynamics, and forms of resistance that arise from the colonial encounter."