In cartoons and movies, anthropologists are often shown wearing pith helmets and shorts in a tropical jungle or digging up mummies in the desert with a pyramid in the background.
These images are not entirely wrong. Some anthropologists actually do that sort of thing. However, anthropology is much more diverse than these stereotypes indicate. It involves a broadly-based comparative study of human biology, society and culture, past and present. Because of the emphasis on comparison, anthropology has paid special attention to small-scale societies outside the Western European cultural tradition, but nowadays anthropologists can be found doing research in cities and factories as well as in villages and hunting camps.
Within the discipline of anthropology there are several broad areas of specialization:
Physical anthropology concentrates on how human beings acquired their present form and behaviour by tracing human evolution and physical diversity.
Archeology is the study of human societies by means of the material traces they have left behind: tolls, bones, house remains, and so on.
Linguistic anthropology is the study of human forms of communication: its history, its form, and its social and cultural implications.
Social and cultural anthropology is the comparative study of the ideas, beliefs, and ways of life of human groups.
Applied anthropology is the application of anthropological knowledge to practical problems such as economic development, social conflict and environmental pollution. Some anthropologists would argue that applied anthropology should be an integral component of each of the four fields above.
At Grenfell, most anthropology courses fall into the category of social and cultural, as well as, linguistic, anthropology. These courses are taught as part of the interdisciplinary Social/Cultural Studies program, which also includes courses in folklore and sociology.
Courses in anthropology provide a valuable background for students who intend to specialize in any of the social sciences or humanities, or in medicine, nursing, social work, law, business, government, communications, and many other fields.