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Anthropology | Overview

Message from the Chair

Andrew Duff

The subject matter of anthropology includes everything that has to do with human beings, past and present. Other disciplines deal with humans as well. The social sciences are concerned with human relationships, biology and anatomy study humans as natural organisms, and humanities examine expressions of human culture. Anthropologists attempt to deal with all of
these aspects of the human condition in all places and over time. It is this broad perspective that allows anthropologists to study the “nature” of humans.

The most fundamental questions about human origins and human nature fall within the domain of anthropology. Anthropologists investigate the 99% of our human past for which no written records exist. We study the subtle interactions between our genetic heritage and our learned cultural behaviors.

Our faculty encompasses a wide spectrum of geographic and topical interests. We work all over the globe, from remote areas in Africa and Polynesia, to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and South America. Many also work here in western North America, where for example: our archaeologists investigate the interplay between changing environments and changing patterns of human behavior in prehistory. With 20 faculty members located in Pullman, Vancouver and Tri-Cities, we can accommodate a variety of student interests, and you will become a member of an active community that offers its own weekly colloquium series, and publishes a monograph series and an annual newsletter. Students can gain hands-on experience though volunteer work in our Museum of Anthropology. There is also the Anthropology Club for undergraduates.

The undergraduate curriculum includes courses in bioanthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. It is flexible enough to allow you to concentrate in any of these subfields, or you may choose to receive a broad background in all of them. Many of our students tell us that their experiences here greatly enriched their perspective on life and learning even though they did not later pursue a career in anthropology. Many undergraduate majors go on to graduate school in Anthropology and find jobs in museums, community colleges, universities, federal or state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private enterprise, both in the United States and abroad. We strongly encourage all our students to gain field experience, and many of our undergraduates find opportunities for study abroad.

Dr. Andrew Duff 
Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology