“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. This focus on comprehensive breadth is especially valuable to students seeking to develop expertise in planning, decision-making, and management. Anthropology’s scope and intellectual perspective prepares students to make objective, far-sighted decisions at the professional level in any career field, either at home or abroad.