Rock Valley College
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Anthropology is the study of humans and our ancestors in the past and present.  The anthropologist Alfred Kroeber described the field of anthropology as, “The most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities." The name anthropology derives from the Greek words for man and study, “anthropos” and “logos.” Combined, these words translate to the phrase “study of man.”

One of the goals of anthropology is making what is unfamiliar become familiar to us by considering the many facets of biological evolution and domains of the human experience.  Anthropology also challenges what we consider familiar by questioning our own assumptions and perspectives. Anthropology explores the fascinating questions of: Who are we?  What unites us? Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  Why do we think the way we do?  How did we evolve?

There are four subfields of anthropology including Archaeology, Biological, Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology.  Archaeologists study the ancient and recent human past by examining material remains in the fossil record to answer questions about human history.  Biological anthropologists study human and non-human primates in terms of their biological and demographic characteristics.  They may specialize in primatology, paleoanthropology, human variation, medical anthropology and forensic anthropology.  Cultural anthropologists comparatively investigate how people live, organize and create meaning in social practices.  Linguistic anthropologists study how languages and other systems of communication contribute to our understanding of culture.

Anthropologists are employed in both public and private sectors, including colleges and universities, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, businesses, and health/human services.  According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employment of anthropologists is expected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.”  These numbers suggest that anthropology is a robust career choice, growing at a significantly higher rate than the 11% growth forecast for all occupations.

In sum, renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead encapsulated the function of anthropology when she wrote, “Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment, and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess.”  For further information visit the American Anthropological Association:

See which Anthropology courses are currently being offered.