Oct 31, 2020  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
2019-2020 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Anthropology studies human life in a comparative, cross-cultural, holistic perspective, and is the only social science to do so. The discipline traditionally has been divided into four subfields: cultural and social anthropology (the comparative study of the range and variability of cultures), archaeology (the study of the human past through material artifacts), linguistics (the origin and development of languages and their use in social contexts), and physical or biological anthropology (encompassing primatology and human evolution). Although we are a small department, we are able to offer a four-field approach and also include applied anthropology courses.

Anthropology is distinct in its insistence that the foundations for theorizing and the comparison of cultures be based on firsthand ethnographic fieldwork. Originally, the focus was on nonliterate peoples of the past and present, but anthropological theories and methods are increasingly applied to the populations of literate, complex societies. Current faculty in the department have conducted fieldwork in China, the Philippines, Hawai’i, American Samoa, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Italy, and the Napa Valley, Calif. Faculty have also led January Term study trips to China, Hawai’i, the Cook Islands, Ecuador, Guatemala, Las Vegas, Nev., and San Francisco, Calif.

From its beginning as an academic discipline in the United States in the late 19th century, anthropology has argued for the fundamental physical and psychic unity of humankind and against theories of eugenics and racial inequality. Besides its academic foci, a major emphasis of anthropology is its application in such fields as education, medicine, business, law, human rights, international development and conflict resolution. Most of our graduates enter the working world, but some join organizations such as the Peace Corps or Lasallian Volunteers, and a smaller number go on to graduate or professional schools. Our curriculum prepares all students broadly to be literate, informed, questioning, ethical and socially-aware citizens.

We offer additional academic preparation in the form of presentation of academic papers at the Santa Clara University undergraduate social science student research conference, independent study, National Science Foundation Research Opportunities for Undergraduates mentoring, grants for participation in summer archaeological field schools, field placement at local social service organizations and an honors thesis for students intending to continue their formal education. (These opportunities are open to all our students, but we encourage them for students applying to graduate and profes- sional schools.) All students are encouraged to learn a foreign language and to study abroad.

Students also can take advantage of a course exchange program to enroll in Anthropology and Archaeology courses at Mills College, The University of California, Berkeley, and California State University East Bay.


Dana R. Herrera, PhD, Professor, Chair
Anna Corwin, PhD, Assistant Professor
Jennifer Heung, PhD, Professor
Lynn M. Meisch, PhD, Professor Emerita
Paola Sensi-Isolani, PhD, Professor Emerita
Cynthia Van Gilder, PhD, Professor

Learning Outcomes

When students have completed the anthropology program they will be able to:

  • APPRECIATE the great diversity of human cultures and the interrelatedness of economic, socio-political and religious systems.
  • APPROACH cultural diversity with thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
  • EXAMINE their lives in social and cultural contexts and assess how their lives are affected by the specific time and place in which they live.
  • UNDERSTAND anthropological theory and methods and how they are applicable in and beyond academia.
  • EMPLOY critical reading, writing and thinking skills that will allow them to understand and contribute to an increasingly complex, multicultural and interdependent world.
  • EXPRESS themselves with confidence and clarity in both oral and written communication. This includes an understanding of the difference between primary and secondary sources and how to properly cite and reference those sources.

Major Requirements

The anthropology major comprises 13 lower- and upper-division courses. Students are exposed to all four of the traditional subdisciplines of anthropology while having the choice of majoring in anthropology or anthropology with an archaeology concentration.

A grade of C- or higher is required for coursework to count toward the major or minor.

Note: Courses are offered on a rotating basis unless otherwise noted.


    Bachelor of ArtsMinor


      Anthropology - Lower Division

      Note: Courses are offered on a rotating basis unless otherwise noted.

      Anthropology - Upper Division