Mission Statement: Wake Forest University Department of Anthropology
The WFU Department of Anthropology promotes understanding and appreciation of human cultural and biological diversity. Through academic courses, scholarly and applied research, and public service, the Department provides the Wake Forest community with the tools and knowledge necessary for global citizenship. Composed of scholars representing all sub-fields of anthropology, the Department serves as the premier academic and practical resource for multicultural awareness and education in the University and Winston-Salem communities, enhancing the University’s commitment to Pro Humanitate.
“Anthropology”–from the Greek anthropos (“human”) and logia (“science”)–is the scientific study of humankind, from its beginnings millions of years ago to the present day. Its subject matter is both exotic (initiation rites of the Ganda of Uganda) and commonplace (anatomy of the human hand). Its focus is both sweeping and microscopic. Anthropologists may study the environmental impact of a new industry, the folklore of West Virginia, primate disease patterns, prehistoric cultures in North Carolina, or secret societies.
A common thread links these vastly different projects. The common goal is to advance knowledge of who we are and how we came to be that way. Because the subject matter of anthropology is so broad, an undergraduate major in anthropology is part of a broad liberal arts background for students interested in any career, including law, environmental studies, government, business, international relations, medicine, and in just being a well-educated citizen.
With the current intensity of global actions and interactions and the increasing cultural diversity of our own society, anthropology becomes even more relevant to our lives. In these times of narrow specialization, anthropological study is refreshingly broad. Anthropology is traditionally divided into four subfields: linguistic anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology, and physical (biological) anthropology.
The Department of Anthropology at Wake Forest includes all four subfields, as well as a focus on the practical application of the knowledge we generate in solving real world problems, known as applied anthropology.