Major Spotlight: Anthropology
Anthropology is a contemporary discipline that deals with human issues from a historical, biological, linguistic, and cultural perspective. The anthropology program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers students an opportunity to gain experience by participating not only in projects, but research opportunities. There are four fields within anthropology including archaeology, cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.
At UALR, a BA in Anthropology consists of at least 32 credit hours of anthropology. Some classes an anthropology major can expect to take include physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, anthropological theory, linguistics, and an archaeology course. Buried Cities, Ancient Lives and Eating Cultures, Anthropology of Food were offered in 2014 as special courses.
Some special topic courses that were recently offered include the anthropology of death, as well as, Islam and gender. Another course listed was ‘Teaching the Future: The Anthropology of Education’. The class was taught by Dr. Simon Hawkins and asks “What do we really learn in school? What is an educated person? Do schools change society or perpetuate it?”
UALR’s Anthropology Club is listed on their site as one of the most active student groups on campus. According to UALR’s anthropology website, “Current and recent activities include the UALR campus garden, participating in Fossil Day at the Museum of Discovery, volunteering at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, a field trip to the (now UNESCO World Heritage Site) Poverty Point, maintenance and documentation of a historic cemetery, organizing campus Food Day activities, registering an archaeological site with the state, organizing Darwin Day activities, trying their hand at making stone tools, and bringing scholars such as Maya archaeologist Dr. Anabel Ford to campus.”
Anthropology is useful even outside of a college setting. It allows students opportunities to develop their critical thinking and analysis, as well as honing communication skills. They will learn how to study people and the inner workings of communities and organizations. It also provides training applicable to today as the economy becomes increasingly international and the workforce more diverse.
One of the primary concerns for those interested in pursuing anthropology is what to do after attaining a degree. However, there are many career and educational options for anthropology majors. Like other majors, more opportunities tend to present themselves after pursuing an advanced degree. Unlike other majors however, many jobs pertaining to this particular degree won’t necessarily be listed under anthropology.
According to the American Anthropological Association “Academic anthropologists find careers in anthropology departments, social science departments, and a variety of other departments or programs, such as medicine; epidemiology; public health; ethnic, community, or area studies; linguistics; cognitive psychology; and neural science.”
Students that have majored in anthropology at UALR have ended up in jobs such as staff member at Women’s Project, a Little Rock nonprofit organization; Environmental Specialist at Arkansas Department of Health; and Pipeline Safety Specialist with Arkansas Public Service Commission.
In the end, Anthropology is the same as other majors in that it will have strengths and weaknesses that have less to do with the field and more to do with an ever changing job market.
An advantage however, according to the AAA, is that anthropology is “a career that embraces people of all kinds. It is a discipline that thrives with heterogeneity—in people, ideas, and research methods. Anthropologists know the wisdom of listening to multiple voices and linking the work coming from researchers who bring different backgrounds and apply various approaches to their endeavors.”