Anthropology at SSU - Building Knowledge and Skills

For the members of Sonoma State University's anthropology faculty, research and teaching are inseparable, and the Anthropology Department encourages both graduate and undergraduate students to meet professional standards of achievement in their work and research. The faculty assists students in developing and executing individual research projects. Students often present the results of their work in professional meetings, juried research publications, and public documents.

Through training in anthropology students learn of many different cultures throughout the world, how they developed, the significance of their differences, and how they change. Students are thus equipped with a broad perspective for viewing both themselves and others.

Students of anthropology acquire skill in the formulation of both theoretical and practical questions regarding human life, in collecting and organizing data on many levels of human behavior, and in constructing appropriate interpretations and generalizations based on well thought out procedures. The combination of knowledge about human ways of life and training in analytic skills provides valuable experience in virtually all fields of endeavor that deal with human society and culture. This perspective is invaluable in preparing students for careers either in research professions or in vocations involving human services or planned change. Some of these are cultural resources management, environmental planning, nursing, teaching, public health administration, business, public relations, law, community development, and international service.

Intellectual Goals for Majors

The Department of Anthropology has identified four primary intellectual goals that the faculty believe are essential for a major in anthropology to have mastered by graduation.

  1. Comparative Perspective: The anthropology faculty feel it is crucial for anthropology graduates to grasp the importance of a cross-cultural or comparative perspective.
  2. Four-Field Coverage: Our department adheres to the four-field approach, and the faculty believe that a solid grounding in all four fields—sociocultural, biological, archaeology and linguistic—is epistemologically essential for a major in anthropology.
  3. Integration of the Four-Field Approach: Because of the faculty’s belief in the importance of four-field coverage, faculty members in each subfield develop coursework to illustrate how different subfields approach a topic, noting their points of convergence and divergence.
  4. Ethical Awareness: Finally, the anthropology faculty believes it is essential for anthropology graduates to have ethical awareness. To highlight this, courses utilize current anthropological ethical debates as part of their curriculum.

Curricular Goals for Majors

In addition to these intellectual goals, the Department of Anthropology also outlined nine curricular goals that the department’s faculty consider important for anthropology majors to have knowledge of by the time they graduate.

  1. Intellectual Competence: This refers to students’ grasp of key issues in anthropology and their ability to use these concepts appropriately and effectively.
  2. Intellectual Relevance: This refers to students' capacity to relate anthropological perspectives to the issues and controversies of our time.
  3. Critical Comprehension: This refers to the ability of students to read and comprehend scholarly and professional materials in anthropology.
  4. Written & Oral Presentations: This refers to the capacity for critical written and oral presentations.
  5. Bibliographic Search: This refers to the capacity to identify and use productively a variety of traditional and non-traditional bibliographic and archival resources.
  6. Computer & Information Technologies: This refers to the capacity to use computer and information technologies in anthropological research.
  7. Professional Ethics: This refers to the development of an understanding of the ethical issues involved in scholarly inquiry, publication, and professional and workplace practice.
  8. Responsible Citizenship: This refers to the development of an understanding of the rights and obligations required for good professional and public citizenship.
  9. Individual & Collaborative Work: This refers to experience gained through working individually and collaboratively with colleagues.