Anthropology seeks to understand and interpret the global range of human experience.
The anthropological imagination draws upon biological, linguistic, historical, and comparative perspectives in creating a systematic vision of how societies are patterned and how culture is experienced.
The program at Illinois Wesleyan University emphasizes the branch of anthropology known as socio-cultural anthropology. This branch relies upon the method of ethnography, or participant-observation, in which a researcher lives among a group of people and attempts to experience, first-hand, how they live and communicate.
Students at IWU are provided with a variety of opportunities to develop the fundamental field research skills used by professional anthropologists. Many of our courses allow students to interact with members of American sub-cultures and peoples of diverse ethnic heritage.
Anthropology majors and minors leave the program with both written and visual ethnographies (photo-essays and ethnographic films) that they have produced themselves.
Anthropology Student Learning Goals
A graduate from the IWU Anthropology program will:
- be exposed to each of the four major subfields: socio-cultural anthropology, anthropological archaeology, biological (or physical) anthropology, and linguistic anthropology and understand the intersecting ways in which these sub-fields enhance our understanding of the human condition.
- be familiar with the theorists whose ideas have shaped the discipline and the methodologists whose practices have changed the way that professional anthropologists conduct research.
- understand how people communicate and share ideas symbolically, through language, art, music, and dance.
- know how to effectively conduct ethnographic research, including effectively conducting participant-observation and an ethnographic interview.
- know how to describe and compare anthropological theories and understand how they relate to ethnographic practice.
- be able to represent the voices, opinions and experiences of people from a different society from the emic (insider’s perspective) and articulately convey ethnographic narratives in writing, orally, and visually.
- have an awareness of the ethical issues surrounding the study of indigenous and/or vulnerable peoples.
- appreciate the benefits of collaborating with members of the society under study
- appreciate and respect the variety of knowledge systems at work in the world.