Jun 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Anthropology studies human life in a comparative, cross-cultural, holistic, global 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. 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 business, education, medicine, 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 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 professional schools.) All students are strongly encouraged to do an internship, 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 The University of California, Berkeley and California State University East Bay.


Dana R. Herrera, PhD, Professor, Chair

Jennifer Heung, PhD, Professor

Cynthia Van Gilder, PhD, Professor

Paola Sensi-Isolani, PhD, Professor Emerita

Learning Outcomes

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

  • DEFINE the four fields of American anthropology.
  • DESCRIBE and COMPARE historically American and European anthropological approaches with Indigenous approaches to understanding culture and social practice.
  • EXPLAIN key anthropology concepts and the analytical ideas that underlie their usage.
  • EVALUATE anthropological theory and critically access anthropological literature.
  • DEFINE culture, and articulate its historical relationship to the concepts of biological and social identity.
  • ANALYZE the contribution made by appliedd anthropology to understanding the contemporary world, including the legacy of colonial world systems, imperialism, and globalization in culture change and extinction. 
  • APPLY anthropological methods of inquiry to cultural data while engaging in critical cultural relativism.
  • COMMUNICATE anthropological findings and arguments to target and audiences using multimedia methods of dissemination.
  • PROPOSE actionable insights based on anthropological research to stakeholders in for-profit and nonprofit business contexts

Major Requirements

The anthropology major comprises 12.50 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; anthropology with an archaeology concentration; or anthropology with an applied anthropology 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

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