Jul 18, 2024  
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog 
2024-2025, 2nd ed. General Catalog


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Department of Anthropology
Stevenson Hall
(707) 664-2312

For faculty information, please see Faculty or the Anthropology faculty web page.

Anthropology as a discipline studies the foundations and forms of human social and cultural diversity, past and present, via biology and behavior, language and material culture. Anthropology as a practice seeks to apply this knowledge to the solution of human problems.  Anthropologists study how human beings have come to be as they are, a physically distinct species, communicating through language, adapted to every habitat on earth, and living an amazing variety of lives.  As anthropologists have become increasingly engaged with the contemporary world, they have led in the development of new global and local perspectives on how culturally different peoples interact in contexts of power and inequality, and how humans continuously transform their ways of life in response to environmental and social change.

For the members of Sonoma State University anthropology faculty, research and teaching are inseparable.  The Anthropology department encourages both graduate and undergraduate students to meet professional standards of achievement in their work and research.  The faculty assists students in developing and executing individual research projects.  Students often present the results of their work in professional meetings, juried research publications and public documents.

Through training in anthropology, students learn about many different cultures throughout the world, how they developed, the significance of their differences, and how they change over time.  Students develop a set of skills for applying  broad, integrative perspective to both themselves and others.

Anthropology integrates this broad, holistic human science across
four major subfields:

  • Biological Anthropology deals with the evolution of the human body, mind, and behavior as inferred through study of fossils and human remains and comparisons with behavior and anatomy of other primate species.
  • Archaeology examines our past ways of life through the interpretation of material remains, written records, and oral traditions.
  • Cultural Anthropology explores the diversity of existing human ways of life, how they work, how they change, and how they interrelate in the modern world.
  • Linguistic Anthropology examines the structure and diversity of language and related human communication systems, how these forms of communication interrelate with other sociocultural phenomena, and how these forms change over time.

Students of anthropology acquire skill in the formation of both theoretical and practical questions regarding human life, in collecting and organizing data on many levels of human biology and behavior, and in constructing appropriate interpretations and generalizations based on well thought out procedures.  The combination of knowledge about human ways of life and training in analytical skills affords experiences that are crucial to any field dealing with human society and culture.  This perspective is invaluable in preparing students for careers either in research professions or in a wide range of professional fields, including cultural resources management, environmental planning, nursing, teaching, public health administration, business, public relations, law, community development, and international service.

The bachelor of arts in anthropology provides a balanced grounding in the theoretical approaches and the body of knowledge central to the discipline of anthropology.  The anthropology program also combines well with majors and minors in other departments and programs.  The minor in anthropology recognizes basic training in anthropology as a  complement to a major in other subjects.  Faculty advisors in the department can help students plan a course of study to take advantage of this multidisciplinary strategy.

Careers in Anthropology

As stated on the American Anthropological Association website: “Anthropological study provides training particularly well suited to the 21st century. The economy will be increasingly international; work forces and markets, increasingly diverse; participatory management and decision making, increasingly important; communication skills, increasingly in demand. Anthropology is the only contemporary discipline that approaches human questions from historical, biological, linguistic, and cultural perspectives.” Professional anthropologists are employed in government, in the business world, in education, and in a wide range of nonprofit organizations and institutions

For example:

  • Cultural anthropologists are employed in a wide range of settings including government agencies from the local to national levels, international organizations such as the World Bank, non-governmental agencies, private industry, academia, and others. They work on issues including economic development, natural resource management, tourism, environmental preservation, globalization, and many others.
  • Archaeologists are employed by a host of federal and state agencies charged with locating and preserving sites that contain information about our own prehistoric and historic past. They work with a variety of descendant communities in a wide range of settings, from inner cities to wilderness areas.
  • Biological anthropologists work in a variety of settings, including medical schools (as anatomists), medical research facilities (as medical geneticists and physiologists), in cultural resources management (as bioarchaeologists), in crime laboratories (as forensic anthropologists), and in zoos (as designers of captive habitats) and nature conservancies (as conservationists studying critically endangered primate species).
  • Linguistic anthropologists are active and helpful in the design, evaluation, and implementation of curricula for teaching languages, whether to linguistic minorities who do not speak dominant languages or to those whose linguistic capacities differ.  Linguistic anthropologists have addressed issues of language death and language revitalization, and the roles of language in sociocultural identities.

You can explore careers in anthropology further on the American Anthropological Association’s careers website.

The department also offers a master of arts degree in Cultural Resources Management (CRM). This is a professional field that involves the identification, evaluation, and preservation of cultural resources within legal and planning contexts. The primary objective of the master’s program is to produce professionals competent in research design and data collection and analysis, as well as the legal mandates of North American CRM. Program graduates work as historic preservation specialists, environmental planners, and archaeologists for government agencies and as private consultants.

Anthropology Department Resources

Anthropological Studies Center

The department’s Anthropological Studies Center (ASC) provides students with the opportunity to participate in prehistoric and historical archaeology, geoarchaeology, the conservation and analysis of archaeological materials, local history, and public outreach in the context of grant and contract-aided research projects. The Center has more than 5,000 square feet of archaeological laboratory and curation facilities and is supported by a professional staff. Internships are offered every semester.

David Fredrickson Anthropology Laboratory

The department’s human skeletal material and fossil cast collections (which include cranial and post-cranial material) are housed in the anthropology lab in Stevenson Hall and are regularly used in biological anthropology courses.  This lab is often used for methods courses.

Ethnographic and Linguistic Studio

The department’s small studio has computers configured for linguistic and transcription applications, including the collection, analysis, and transcription of audio and video data.  A small library of supporting materials are also available here.

The department also has an active Anthropology Club.

Anthropology Scholarships

In recent years, the department has been awarding Summer Internship and Fieldwork Opportunity Fellowships to help support students in anthropology and human development who pursue summer internships, research opportunities, and fieldwork.  The Conni Miller Memorial Scholarship is available to all Anthropology majors. Contact the Scholarship Office for information.


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