Anthropology @ PLU

Our Mission

The Anthropology Department is dedicated to understanding the nature and variety of all humanity.  Humankind has great cultural diversity, significant biological uniformity and an undeniable unity with the rest of nature.

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Greater awareness, appreciation, and understanding of both the difference and commonalities among humans helps to combat ignorance and prejudice.  The heart of the anthropological message is respect for all humanity in its amazing diversity.  We “educate for lives of service” by offering courses that focus on the use and usefulness of our skills and knowledge.  We infuse all our courses with intercultural skills that we encourage students to apply in a wide range fo endeavors.  Anthropology, more than any other program, seeks to heighten awareness of nature and strengths of a culturally plural society and a global community.

Teaching from the Mission

The core lessons in recognizing ethnocentrism and using the concept of cultural relativity to understand global issues are key for the 100 level courses. Further, the development of intercultural skills for use in a myriad of circumstances is central in all general education classes. Our focus on human diversity with a broad intercultural and international expertise has lead a number of other programs to require our courses for their students or recruit our faculty for their courses.

At the present, we teach courses that are required by education, legal studies, social work, global studies, women’s studies and the first year program. We also regularly offer study away courses in the J-term and summer.

Mission to Majors and Minors

Our responsibility to our majors and minors is very strong. We must build on the skills and understandings they have gained from the general education courses and teach them to recognize and analyze cultural differences. Three hundred level courses teach them to apply their knowledge of world diversity to specific cultures and events. To do this they focus on specific cultures and topics for depth without losing the breadth and context of world trends and structures. As anthropological professionals they need to be able to use the theory and methodology of the field and our four hundred level, two-semester sequence of courses prepare them for this. We also encourage them to take part in study away programs and internships and volunteer opportunities in the community. We aim to prepare all our majors to bring anthropological skills and insights to their work and personal lives and, for those who choose to go, for graduate school in anthropology.