Abigail Wightman, coordinator

Anthropology is the study of the human experience, divided into four main subfields — cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology, and archaeology. The anthropology program at Mary Baldwin University provides an introduction to all four subfields but focuses most extensively on cultural anthropology. As the study of contemporary human societies, cultural anthropology attempts to describe, understand, and explain cultural practices in all human communities, including our own. In our increasingly multicultural communities, the anthropology minor is particularly useful to students who plan to work in museums, education, historic and cultural preservation, business and marketing, nonprofit community organizing, international development and diplomacy, and health care.

Requirements for the Minor in Anthropology

18 semester hours

Required Courses:
ANTH 120 Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 121 Human Origins and Archaeology
ANTH 220 Language and Culture

Three additional anthropology electives.


Civic Engagement Opportunities

Anthropology minors will find civic engagement opportunities within Sociology, especially SOC 282. Students are encouraged to seek out global engagement opportunities, particularly study abroad and anthropological field schools. Along with anthropology and sociology faculty, the Spencer Center can help students find appropriate opportunities.


120 Cultural Anthropology (3 s.h.) (S)
An introduction to the study of humans as culture-bearing beings. Through readings, films, lectures, and discussions students come to an understanding of the extent of human cultural diversity. Using societies from around the world as examples, students will study cultural practices and beliefs regarding marriage, kinship, family life, uses of technology, religion, political organization and social stratification.

121 Human Origins and Archaeology (3 s.h.) (S)
An introduction to the physical history of the human species by studying our closest living primate relatives and analyzing fossil remains of early hominids. Students then study the evolution of human culture from the origins of humankind to the beginnings of the first literate civilizations in the Old and New Worlds. The course concludes by looking at physical variation, including the concept of race, in contemporary human populations.

202 Women, Gender, and Culture (3 s.h.) (G)
Explores the relationship between gender, culture, and women’s status in communities around the world. Students will examine the relationship between “sex” and “gender,” evaluate cross-cultural variations of women’s roles and status, be exposed to differing constructions of gender and sexuality, and gain a greater appreciation of the influence of systems of power, such as race and colonialism, on women’s lives.

208 Medical Anthropology (3 s.h.) (I)
Explores the ways in which culture influences the definition and treatment of diseases in communities around the world. Students will be exposed to such topics as the difference between disease and illness, the influence of disease on human populations throughout history, ethnomedicine, the relationship between culture and Western biomedicine, culture-bound syndromes, social suffering, and stigma.

212 Indigenous Peoples of North America (3 s.h.) (D)
An introduction to the cultural diversity of North American indigenous peoples and the relationship between U.S. tribal communities and the federal government. Through readings that tie specific tribal communities to larger issues, we will explore the effects of federal policies on indigenous communities, sovereignty and land rights, Indian activism, and contemporary issues such as language revitalization, identity, and reservation poverty.

220 Language and Culture (3 s.h.) (I)
Explores language, a uniquely human capability that makes us different from primates and other animals. Besides introducing students to the basic definitions of language, this course also examines the complex relations between language and other aspects of human behavior and thought. Students will explore the relationship of language to human evolution, culture, social context, identity, power, status, and gender.

227 Human Geography: People, Place and Culture (3 s.h.) (T)
Combines perspectives from two closely related fields, human geography and cultural anthropology, to focus specifically on the relationships between people and the environments in which they live. The course will be organized around four learning nodes — people, places, flows, and maps — that each include more specific learning objectives. We will study how people — including culture, technology, settlement patterns, religion, and language — have been affected by, and continue to affect in turn, the places that we live. We will also study the flows of people, money, cultures, information , and objects across space and time. In order to make sense of these global flows and spatial relationships, we will learn how to use and interpret maps.

244 Magic, Ritual, and Religion (3 s.h.) (R)
Explores religious belief and practice as a cultural phenomenon in a global context, paying particular attention to the relationships between religious institutions and their historical, social, and cultural contexts. Students will examine the intersection of religion with subsistence strategies, economic systems, political systems, and gender structures. Topics include magic, witchcraft, sorcery, ritual, symbolism, possession, identity, and health.