Moorea dancers, photo credit M. Lauer

Our Department

Anthropology takes a sweeping approach to understanding human life (see this video to learn more about anthropology). Since the 19th century, anthropologists have gained a unique and deep understanding of humanity, spanning our entire history, including the biological evolution of our species, our historical and prehistoric legacies, and contemporary cultural, political, economic, and environmental dynamics. To achieve this the discipline integrates insights from the social, natural, and physical sciences, along with the humanities, to study human activities and cultures wherever and whenever humans have lived. This scope of understanding requires that anthropologists become versed in social, natural, and physical sciences, as well as humanities. 

The faculty in our department are actively engaged and productive scholars who are carrying out research projects locally in San Diego and southern California, as well as internationally in locales such as Mexico, the Pacific, Brazil, Italy, Indonesia, and India. Their commitment to research is reflected in the output of numerous books and scholarly articles

Our department offers an undergraduate major (Bachelor of Arts), a minor, and a graduate degree (Master of Arts). Our BA and MA students emerge ready for today’s job market by gaining integrated training in all four of anthropology’s subfields—cultural anthropology, physical/biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology. A standout feature of our program is the extensive research opportunities available to both undergraduate and graduate students, who gain hands-on experience in field schools or our seven specialized laboratories or centers


Engaged Anthropology

Anthropology is inherently an engaged practice since our research and teaching always involve ethical and moral dimensions, no matter if we are learning about ancient bones or flora, the behavior of primates, contemporary languages, or the climate crisis. As such, our students are trained to both theorize about human lifeways and to apply anthropological principles and methods to not only address problems in the contemporary world but also move towards more just, equitable, and less environmentally destructive futures. We apply our professional research, scholarship, practice, and teaching to overturn the deeply entrenched institutional sources of inequality based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, age, ability, and other categories. We use anthropological research, scholarship, teaching, and practice in service of dismantling institutions of colonization and helping to redress histories of oppression, exploitation, and environmental destruction. This dedication is evident in our hiring, mentorship, teaching methods, research, and professional service.