Course Descriptions

ANTH 1300

Origin and Diversity of Humankind


This course provides a comprehensive understanding of what it means to be human through an integrated study of biology and culture. Using a broad 4-field approach (Biological, Cultural, Linguistic, Archaeological) it traces the evolutionary development of uniquely human traits and examines the immense diversity of human culture, past and present. While acknowledging differences, students will develop an appreciation for the unity of modern humans as a result of our shared ancestry. This anthropological perspective will help students recognize our interdependent connection with the natural world and each other as a basis for dealing with the complexity of modern human life.

ANTH 2000

Human Origins


There are serious problems involved in any attempt to pigeonhole humanity into discrete categories based on physical traits. Yet it is clear that biological differences do exist among peoples of the world. This course focuses on why there is variation in specific biological traits and how this variation becomes grist for the mill in the cultural construction of race. Prerequisites: ANTH 1300

ANTH 2001

Human Biocultural Evolution


How did Homo sapiens become an invasive biological species occupying diverse terrestrial habitats and transforming environments through progressively disruptive cultural practices? Beginning with a firm grounding in scientific methodology, this introductory course surveys the evolutionary trajectory of our species over deep geological time, highlighting critical periods characterized by major biocultural transformations affecting how humans adapted to their local environments. The more recent history of Homo sapiens is then examined, focusing on the complex interaction between our evolving species and the ecosystems it inhabits within the context of the cultural systems that mediate this interaction. Finally, we turn our attention to the future, specifically on the sustainability of human behaviors that promote our biological persistence yet increasingly impact life on a global scale

ANTH 2020

Diversity and Equity in Schools


Schools are central to the socialization of youngsters and to the formation and maintenance of modern nation-states. This course critically analyzes the role that schools play in the cultural production of the ‘educated’ person. It identifies links between school practices and the community, the state and the economy, which help explain the disproportionate failure of disadvantaged groups. It challenges future teachers to think about schools as sites of intense cultural politics, and to consider the effects of history and power on educational processes.

ANTH 2100

Digging the Past: An Introduction to Archaeology


This course introduces students to the anthropological sub-discipline of archaeology, which is the study of past human societies as revealed through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data left behind. This course will cover basic method and theory, and survey key events as revealed in the archaeological record over the past 3 million years. It will also address recent applied topics in archaeological research, including community archaeology, heritage sustainability & preservation and cultural resource management.

ANTH 2300

Culture, Identity, and Cognition


This course explores the concept of “culture” from a ‘biocultural’ anthropological perspective focusing on how culture shapes two critical dimensions of human existence: a) Identity and group belonging, and b) Cognition and knowledge. Students will explore the culture concept and engage with debates on cultural identity formation and politics of identity. This will set the foundation for exploration of the relation between culture and ‘human nature,’ the centrality of culture to the evolutionary history of humans, and the role of culture and language in the process of knowledge acquisition and transmission. This is a writing intensive course.

ANTH 2400

Language Matters


This course examines the uniquely human capacity to use language and the complex interrelations of language and power. Students will explore the evolutionary roots of language, the relationship between language, thought, culture and society, and how people use language to construct difference and reproduce, manipulate and contest social inequalities. Through reading and analysis of ethnographic material, students will recognize the power that language has on its speakers and the power that speakers can exert by means of language. This is a writing intensive course.

ANTH 2520

Evolutionary Bases of Human Behavior


This course explores the evolutionary bases of human behavior from a multidisciplinary perspective. It emphasizes the evolutionary and adaptive biological substrates and predispositions which help account for the complexity of modern humans. Evolutionary principles, comparative anatomical and behavioral evidence, the fossil record, neuroanatomical and the uniquely human archeological record are used to trace the anatomical and behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens. The roots of modern human behavior will be considered from the perspectives of adaptation and antiquity. Students will not only develop a thorough understanding of what it means to be human, but also an extensive knowledge of the environmental and biological forces which shaped the human mind.

ANTH 2570

Sex, Gender and Sexuality


This course focuses on the complex interplay between biology and culture. It uses evidence, concepts,theories and perspectives from the four fields of anthropology (biological, socio-cultural, linguistic, archaeological) to explore diverse patterns of sex, gender and sexuality amongst humans, human ancestors and non-human primates. Students will critically evaluate discourses that reduce sex, gender and sexuality to a matter of nature alone; notions used to legitimize inequalities of sex and sexuality and pathologize non-normative sex, gender and sexualities. Adopting a social justice approach, the course will explore contemporary struggles of self-determination in which sex, gender and sexuality are central. Somes sections of this course are writing intensive.

ANTH 2600

Myth and Folklore and the Modern World


Myth and Folklore play important multiple roles in all cultures. This course looks at the patterns of moral values, social order, customs and religious beliefs as they are expressed through traditional folklore (narratives, songs, jokes etc.) and modern folklore (mass media, urban cultures). The course also explores common themes and provides a variety of theoretical models for explanation. Some sections of this course are writing intensive.

ANTH 2700

Anthropology of Inequality


This course surveys anthropological contributions to mapping the relationship between human differences, power and inequality. The course emphasizes current intersecting inequalities and how they are lived and challenged in various parts of the world. The course first expands the scope of the study of inequality in time in order to explore how inequalities came to be, how they persist and transform. Spotlighting change and possibilities, the course prepares students to contribute to debates concerning the nature of inequality in the public sphere and advocate for social justice.

ANTH 3000

Popular Culture and Modernity in South Asia


This course is designed as an introduction to everyday life and popular culture in South Asia. The course examines key anthropological concepts and debates from South Asian material to inquire into the nature of modernity. Some of the themes that will be addressed include changing institutions of family and kinship, castes and communities, urban spaces and global cities, religions in practice, the media revolution and youth, and challenges to modernity emerging from the violence of development, gender/sexuality, caste, globalization, and communalism.
Pre-requisite: ANTH 1300 or ASN 2010 or ASN 2800

ANTH 3010

Research Methods in Anthropology


This course provides student with basic tools for designing, conducting and appraising ethnographic research projects. Students will gain a better understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods through collaborative research, field activities and class discussions. Emphasis will be placed on using techniques for data collection and analyses, evaluating research procedures and outcomes, and developing technological skills appropriate for the discipline of Anthropology. This is a technology intensive course.

ANTH 3011

Public Engagement in Anthropology


This seminar is designed to enable students to gain an appreciation of the way in which anthropologists engage with debates and issues of concern in the wider public sphere, civil society, public policy, and local and global communities. The seminar will address scholarship that cuts across the discipline’s different fields through critical reading of current work. Students will explore essential anthropological questions and reflect on the role anthropologists can or should play in shaping the societies in which we live. Seminar topics will vary. This course is writing intensive.

ANTH 3040

Prehistory of the Far East


This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the prehistory and paleoanthropology of the Far East (East and Southeast Asia, all inclusive). The course offers a survey of the history of the theoretical and substantive discoveries which have influenced and/or continue to influence our understanding of the human evolution and behaviour of the region.

ANTH 3080

Native North Americans


This course introduces indigenous North American peoples, including peoples called Indians, as well as Inuits (Eskimos) and Aleuts from their origins to the present day. Students examine archaeological, ethnohistorical, ethnographic and historical data to study cultural processes and changes over time. Topics covered also include inter-ethnic and interracial issues in the United States and Canada.

ANTH 3100

Global Transformations and the Human Condition


This course develops an understanding of the experiences of “globalization” as a historical phase of capitalism, and “development” as a post-World War II set of practices. It will analyze specific “global” problems as manifested in the lives of large sections of the world’s poor and marginalized populations across multiple societies. These problems include: poverty and inequality; livelihoods and food security; endemic hunger, malnutrition and healthcare systems; overconsumption, population and environmental degradation; international debt; displacement and migration; intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge; wars and cultural conflicts. Emphasis will be on contradictory impacts on people and societal prospects in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and on marginalized populations in advanced capitalist countries. Methods to facilitate a just and sustainable future for humanity will also be explored.

ANTH 3140

Old World Prehistory


This course surveys the origins and development of human society. It provides students with an understanding of the evolution of humans and the cultures they established, from the first traces of humanity to the creation of early literate societies. Topics covered include the evolution of tool making, the development of religion, the origins of language, the importance of agriculture, the beginning of warfare, and the creation of hierarchical societies and hereditary ranking.

ANTH 3200

African Archaeology


The course introduces students to Africa and its prehistoric and historic past. It acquaints students with the indigenous mythological, linguistic, oral, and modern scientific linkage between the continent and the rest of the world. Students explore the centers of human physical and cultural evolution in East and South Africa, as well as classic civilizations and permanent settlements from the Nile Delta in the north to the Cape of Good Hope in the south. Archaeological evidence documenting slave trade with the Middle East is also explored from historical and multicultural perspectives.

ANTH 3250

Faces of Diversity


This course examines the global character and connectivity of the USA through a focus on global migration. It uses an anthropological perspective that incorporates historical, social and cultural dimensions of immigration. The course explores how governmental institutions and politics have shaped and responded to immigration to the United States, but with an emphasis on the post-1965 period. Topics include transnational migration and Diasporas, how immigrant lives and social relations are structured in terms of culture, ethnicity, race, class and gender in this era of global migration flows. The course further examines the extent of U.S. involvement in many of the countries of origin of the immigrants, with an analysis of the impact the involvement has had on migration. The changing racial and ethnic relations in American gateway cities as a result of migration, public opinions and issues of contemporary relevance such as undocumented immigration are explored. This is a Writing Intensive course.

ANTH 3300

Anthropology of Tourism


A cross-cultural, transactional view of tourism as involving an encounter between tourist-generating and host societies that may be perceived as a process or a system. Imageries of pleasure travel as it reflects a symbolic world will be examined. The focus will be upon the changes wrought upon the host societies and the sociopolitical and cultural consequences of tourism.

ANTH 3400

Applied Anthropology


What can anthropologists offer to the solution of contemporary human problems? What practical contributions can their theories, methods and insights make to the world? This course explores avenues traditionally sought by anthropologists to apply their knowledge to complex and diverse social situations, the consequences of such involvement and ethical dilemmas they face. The course seeks to prepare students for a wide range of career applications and creates awareness of opportunities for policy-oriented research, program evaluation, cultural brokerage, and advocacy.

ANTH 3410

Law in Society and Culture


This course examines mechanisms societies have developed to resolve disputes. Comparing American society to other industrial and pre-industrial societies, law and political organizations are shown to have cultural ways of coping with conflict strongly linked to variations in subsistence, economy and social stratification.

ANTH 3420

The Ethnology of East Asia: China and Japan


Examines the development of Chinese and Japanese cultures through the study of marriage, the family, village life, economic organization and religion. Modernization, industrialization and cultural change are also explored.

ANTH 3450

Cultural Resources and Community Engagement


This course explores the community implications of protected and potentially vulnerable cultural resources (historic, ethnographic, architectural, archaeological) in the United States and, more specifically, the ability to recognize such resources within communities. Students will gain experience applying federal, state and local laws, policies and procedures to identify significant archaeological and historic sites, and to consider the means to preserve or otherwise protect their inherent research value and community interests. Students will become familiar with cultural resource law and practices through the investigation of significant cultural resources in nearby communities and throughout the U.S.

ANTH 3500

Shamans, Witches and Magic


This course introduces students to the anthropological study of religion. Theories about the origins and functions of religion are examined, along with the role of religion plays in traditional non-Western societies. Shamanism, witchcraft, magic, religion in non-Western medicine, and religious conflict and change in the modern world are among the topics covered. Some sections of this course are writing intensive.

ANTH 3510

Visual Anthropology


Visual Anthropology examines image, behavior and society in a holistic context. The course discusses how knowledge and beliefs influence human perceptions and behaviors and examines various forms of visual expression in a global context and from pre-historic to modern times.

ANTH 3540

Forensic Osteology


This course is designed to present the application of physical anthropology to forensic science. Physical anthropologists are uniquely trained to appreciate human biological variation, particularly skeletal variation, and it is the often subtle differences between individuals that allows forensic osteologists to perform their task of identifying unknown remains in a legal context. The material covered in this course should be of interest not only to students enrolled in anthropology (including archeology), but also to students and professionals in sociology/criminal justice, the biological sciences, nursing or any other field in which knowledge of skeletal biology may be required.

ANTH 3560

Urban Anthropology


This course examines from a cross-cultural perspective the ecological and social changes that occur from urban growth

ANTH 3570



Kin groups ranging from several to thousands of people serve important economic, social, political, and religious functions in every society. Different types of marriage and family systems will be compared in a global and evolutionary context.

ANTH 3590

Cultural Change in Latin America


The origin and development of processes of cultural change in Latin America. Gives the student an opportunity to learn about the cultural institutions of highly developed indigenous cultures and their influences upon present day Latin American cultures. Examines current writings on Latin America that deal with social change and helps the student develop scientific objectivity (an anthropological prerequisite) in the analysis of the social problems resulting from change. Particularly useful for international management majors.

ANTH 3700

Anthropology of Social Movements


This course provides students with a critical understanding of the key issues in the development of social movements and civic action from the perspective of anthropology. Anthropology’s unique on-the ground and comparative perspective, and its emphasis on particularity and context will afford insights into issues of meaning at the center of social movements. Students will examine various models of scholarship and apply this knowledge in a research project that recognizes community members’ knowledge as key to social change in everyday life – where inequalities are experienced and often resisted. This is a writing-intensive course.

ANTH 3710

Health and Healing


This course introduces students to concepts of health and healing in the field of medical anthropology. It will explore how the experiences of health and the body vary cross-culturally using contemporary bio-cultural approaches and community-health perspectives. Topics covered include perceptions of illness and the etiology of disease, conceptions of mental health and stigma, the cultural context of infectious diseases the world over, and the implications of biomedical interventions and technology. The course will spotlight how anthropological knowledge can bridge gaps between medical discourse and notions of health and healing throughout the globe.

ANTH 3990

Selected Topics


A topic not covered by an existing course is offered as recommended by the department and approved by the dean. Prerequisite: Permission of the chair.

ANTH 4200

Archaeology of North America


This course surveys the prehistoric and historic archaeology of North America from the earliest human occupations to the end of the 19 th century. From the big game hunters of the late Pleistocene to the corn farming chiefdoms visited by De Soto’s expedition, to the settlements of Europeans, to the enslaved peoples of the African diaspora, this course traces the development of diverse cultures through the study and interpretation of their material remains. Pre-requisite: ANTH210 or permission of instructor

ANTH 4210

Applied Archaeology: Cultural resource Management


The course is designed to prepare the student to practice Section 106-mandated archaeology, known as contract archaeology or CRM (Cultural Resource Management). It will familiarize the student with applied archaeology; bidding and structuring a budget; sample design, survey, time management, documentary research, and the environmental laws related to prehistoric and historic cultural resources. The course will emphasize the practical aspect of conducting archaeological investigations and help prepare students for employment as professional archaeologists outside the academy. Pre-requisite: ANTH210 or permission of instructor

ANTH 4250



This course provides an in-depth exploration of the evolution of the human family, the Hominidae. Geological, paleontological, genetic and archeological evidence from primary & secondary literature will be critically assessed. Major topics include the appearance of the earliest hominids, distinguishing the most primitive members of genus Homo, discussing technological changes and their possible implications for early hominid behavior, and an evaluation of competing theories that address the origin of Homo sapiens. Pre-requisite: ANTH 130 or 200 or 254, or permission of the instructor.

ANTH 4540

Primate Biology and Behavior


This course will focus on our closest mammalian relatives, the order Primates. The order Primates includes two suborders: Prosimians (tarsiers, lemurs, lorises); and Anthropoids (Old World and New World Monkeys, Apes and Humans). Study will involve evolutionary history of each suborder in the succession leading to and including humans. Focuses on anatomical changes (as identified in fossils) but also concentrate on understanding the behavioral changes that primates have undergone. Commensurate with the above, we will also consider the dynamic medium in which this bio-behavioral evolution has occurred - the paleoenvironment, survey the living primates and the diversity that exists in their modern complex behavior.

ANTH 4900

Anthropology Senior Seminar


This course helps students acquire core professional competencies that facilitate pursuing diverse career paths. It provides students with the tools and resources needed to apply for admission to graduate programs and employment in profit or non-profit (grant-seeking) agencies. The course will foster critical thinking, oral and written communication skills, and research expertise while building upon knowledge acquired in other upper-level anthropology courses. It will nurture intellectual autonomy, as well as a deeper sense of social commitment and ethical conscience. Pre-requisite: At least one 4000 level course in Anthropology.

ANTH 4910



This course provides qualified students practical work experience in an applied sociology or anthropology setting. Periodic conferences and a monthly seminar are an integral part of this program. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor required. 1 - 6 credits

ANTH 4910

Independent Study


As approved and to be arranged. 1 - 6 credits

ANTH 4950

Field Study in Anthropology


The Field Study in Anthropology provides fieldwork and research opportunities for students who seek to develop practical skills in any of the subfields of general anthropology. Students select specific field school programs in consultation with instructors based on the availability of projects; these programs are hosted by accredited academic/research institutions, or initiated by WPUNJ faculty. In addition to providing hands-on experience, the Field Study in Anthropology seeks to foster international exchanges and promote collaboration on a variety of research projects. Students will receive one credit for every 40 hours of field study accumulated and may register repeatedly, for a maximum of 6 credits. Field Study programs may require travel, room and board fees.