About Anthropology and the Department

Anthropology is the study of humankind from our earliest beginnings in the remote past to the interdependent cultures of today’s complex and dynamic world. It integrates scientific and humanistic perspectives to describe and analyze human behavior and biocultural diversity. In the introduction to Coming of Age in Samoa, Margaret Mead wrote, “… as the traveler who has been once from home is wiser than he who has never left his own door step, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own” (1928).

We challenge our students to journey through time and across cultures, to recognize and question their own assumptions, and to develop the kind of critical analytical skills that will serve them effectively throughout their lives. In an era that continues to redefine our understanding of the dynamics of globalization, anthropology prepares students to promote intercultural understanding and respect among individuals, communities and nations.

We provide core courses in the four traditional subfields of our discipline. Building on this foundation we actively promote an applied perspective, showing how anthropology can contribute to a better world. Students are encouraged to use anthropology to solve human problems at home and abroad, to make public policy more responsive to all members of society, and to achieve a resilient, sustainable adaptation in local and global environments.


Joshua Henderson - Anthropology Major

Microbes (And Pigs) Could Provide Clues For Forensic Scientists

Dr. Misty Weitzel, WOU forensic anthropologist, recently took a team of students to the forest to excavate pigs buried for ten years.  Data collected will reveal decomposition rates in Northwest soils and climates, to aid in determining time since death. 

Read OPB/Earthfix reporter Jes Burns' story here.


Zairet Solis and Daisy Romero with Sus scrofa skull. Photo: Jes Burns OPB/Earthfix.


Contact information

For more information about the Anthropology program contact:
Robin Smith, Head
Anthropology Department
HSS 209
Western Oregon University
Monmouth, OR 97361
(503) 838-8357