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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 competence and respect among people, communities and nations.


We provide the basic core courses that define the four traditional subfields within our discipline. Beyond those important foundational courses, we actively promote an applied perspective, both in our courses and in our mentoring of our majors in their capstone projects. We actively create opportunities that encourage students to integrate anthropological methods and insights to solve human problems at home and throughout the world, to make public policy more responsive to the needs and perspectives of all members of society, and to achieve a resilient, sustainable adaptation to our local and global environments.


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


Department of Anthropology 503-838-8357 | or e-mail: