Anthropology is the study of humanity in all its cultural, biological, and historical diversity. A synthesis of scientific and humanistic concerns and methods, it attempts to distinguish universal human characteristics from those unique to individual social groups, and to understand the reasons for differences between individuals and groups.
The insights of anthropology are essential for a critical understanding of the problems of the contemporary world. Anthropology informs a public confronted with choices to be made with respect to changing value systems; competing social goals; ethnic, religious, class, gender, and race relations; new and emerging technologies; environmental and cultural resources management; changing paradigms of health, wellness, and disease; and international relations.
Anthropology offers both unique theoretical perspectives and a particular set of methodological approaches. The faculty considers it essential that we educate our students in both. Students should take away from their studies a substantive knowledge of the commonalities and differences in human experiences and also an understanding of how that knowledge is obtained and evaluated.
The anthropology major thus prepares students for successful entry into any number of professional and graduate programs, as well as careers that require a multicultural approach and perspective. Our mission is to represent anthropology appropriately at Lawrence and in the wider communities within which we live and work, and to educate others wherever and whenever possible with the insights that anthropology has to offer.
The anthropology department at Lawrence includes a range of courses and opportunities for guided independent study from the complementary perspectives of archaeology, biological anthropology, and ethnology. Faculty members provide expertise in a number of ethnographic areas, including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. Topical interests include cultural evolution, refugee communities, medical anthropology, and biological anthropology. The department maintains a well-equipped laboratory, as well as collections of archaeological and ethnographic materials from many culture areas.