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The Major Program

The Major Program

Anthropology is the systematic study of humans. The student of anthropology learns about human biology, ecology, and social life—past and present—and gains a broad understanding of humans and societies. It is a diverse field, and the courses, faculty, and degree programs at UC Davis are subdivided into two wings—Evolutionary and Sociocultural.

Evolutionary. Evolutionary anthropologists are united by their common application of science and evolutionary theory to understand the behavior, ecology, history, and evolution of humans and non-human primates, as individuals and as societies. These topics may be approached through archaeology, human behavioral ecology, molecular anthropology, paleoanthropology, primatology, genetics, biogeography, and conservation biology. Archaeology is the study of the history or prehistory by analysis of a people's artifacts, or their material culture, with the goal of reconstructing culture history and human behavior. Human behavioral ecology is the study of how variation in ecology and social organization can help us understand variation in human behavior. Paleoanthropology is the study of human evolution through fossil and archaeological records, drawing on relevant studies in biological anthropology, Paleolithic archaeology, genetics, and geology. Primatology is the study of behavior, ecology, and morphology of primates to address questions about the evolution and function of behavioral and morphological patterns in nonhuman primates and to test models of the origins of human morphology and behavior. Geneticists can use DNA to address anthropological questions about population histories, migrations, mixing, and adaptations to local contexts. Biogeography investigates the biology behind the geographic distribution of species and human cultures. Conservation biology explores the causes of loss of biological diversity—in this department, it focuses on threatened non-human primates and the conservation of natural resources by a rapidly growing population.

Sociocultural. Sociocultural anthropologists study the varied ways in which people around the world organize their lives and interpret the circumstances in which they operate. Their main method is extended field research, which combines attention to global issues with the close study of human relations and culture. Among the themes addressed in the department's undergraduate courses are globalization and transnationalism; human ecology and environmental change; cultures of healing, health and medicine, the global spread of media and technology; migration, multiculturalism and urban life; colonialism and neocolonialism development and post-development; race, class and gender; politics and the political; cultures of everyday life; language use and discourse; and self, identity and family. The track in sociocultural anthropology thus offers a rich set of resources for understanding and engaging pressing issues in a globalizing world characterized by new forms of international culture and community as well as by increasing material inequality and political volatility.

The Program. The Bachelor of Arts program is divided into two tracks, Sociocultural and Evolutionary , which parallel the two wings described above. Students interested in the study of recent and contemporary human languages and societies should follow the Sociocultural Track. To obtain a A.B. degree in sociocultural anthropology, each student is required to complete courses that provide (1) foundational skills, (2) language and cultural skills, (3) comprehensive skills, and (4) specialized skills. Students interested in the study of archaeology; primate studies; or human biology, ecology or origins should follow the Evolutionary Track. The B.A. degree offered by the Evolutionary Track provides general training in anthropology from an evolutionary perspective. The Evolutionary Track also offers a B.S. degree that requires lower division coursework in math and science and upper division coursework in biological anthropology and closely related disciplines.

Students in both tracks are encouraged to gain practical experience through courses taken while studying abroad (under the administration of the UC Davis Study Abroad) and through undergraduate research or internships performed for credit (under ANT 192, 198, or 199 units provided by the advising office). Students showing exceptional ability are welcome to seek permission from instructors to participate in graduate seminars offered by the department.

Career Opportunities. A Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology is suited for students seeking a solid liberal arts education. With its broad goal to facilitate understanding across lines of cultural difference, sociocultural anthropology prepares students for lives that are influenced by increasingly pervasive cultural exchange, as well as cultural conflict, around the world. The program serves as excellent preparation for careers in which inter-cultural skills are increasingly needed, including social and environmental activism, business, diplomacy and social administration, journalism, law, education and international relations. Students that focus on evolutionary processes will be well prepared to enter fields such as medical or health anthropology, museum studies, cultural resource management and wildlife conservation. A Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology provides suitable training for a variety of health professions including pre-medical, pre-dental, and pre-veterinary training, and the educational background for further training in the biological/evolutionary sciences and forensic investigation. The A.B. or B.S. degree in anthropology with appropriate courses in education is good preparation for high school teaching in social, biological and natural sciences. An anthropology degree also provides the foundation for advanced study leading to careers in college-level teaching and research.

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Updated: November 21, 2017 12:17 PM