With its focus on cross-cultural comparisons, anthropology allows students to confront the rich diversity in human life and encourages respect for individuals and for other cultures. Central to its perspective are the concepts of culture, evolution, and history, particularly in non-Western contexts. Its methodology is built upon extended observation of people in the places where they reside, while participating directly in activities whenever possible.
Anthropology bridges the gap between the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences. The four major sub-disciplines of anthropology include ethnology/ethnography (cultural anthropology), archaeology, anthropological linguistics, and physical (biological) anthropology. In recent years, the fields of medical anthropology and applied anthropology have transcended the traditional four-field approach.
Cornell's One Course At A Time schedule provides many of the same opportunities for varied teaching and learning activities for anthropology as it does for sociology. For example, ethnographic films are important teaching tools in anthropology, and OCAAT allows us to view and discuss films on the same day.
OCAAT also enables extended immersion in another culture as a part of an off-campus course or as an independent study project. Applied Anthropology takes students to the Bahamas where they study local culture and the impacts of tourism while interacting with students in biology and geology courses. West Indian People and Culture allows students to compare observations in Trinidad and Barbados -- two very different island nations. And students completing field archaeology, research methods, or independent projects enjoy full days to dedicate to studies that are generally more local.
Students may minor in anthropology or pursue a joint major in sociology and anthropology. Anthropology courses are also a part of a number of interdisciplinary majors, including ethnic studies, women’s studies, religion, environmental studies, and Latin American studies. Students may also design individualized majors integrating anthropology and other fields such as biology, music, art, or religion.