Starting in fall 2021, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is welcoming a new major into its lineup, general anthropology.
This new major, which has been in the works for more than 10 years, explores the past and present of human cultures around the world through disciplines such as archeology, language study, and biology.
“The idea is to understand cultural forces,” says Rebecca Li, interim department chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “That perspective is essential to understand how people lived in the past and also address current problems in the world.”
This new program was designed to allow students to take on a double major, whether it be the neighboring sociology major or something from a completely different school.
“So much that seems confusing in the world has to do with the rapid shift in our cultural views and how we make sense of the world,” says Li.
Lessons learned in anthropology can be applied to modern problems in all different facets of society. Li named the current rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world as an example.
“Efficacy is of course an important factor, but how do you communicate the importance of vaccines to different cultures?” she says. “You need to understand the culture of different populations and what they find important.”
Students interested in careers with international reach such as international studies and business, or with public facing elements like public health and communications could benefit from the ways of thinking and perspectives presented in anthropology courses.
“We are uniquely positioned to allow students to pursue double majors,” explains Li. This makes an undergrad degree from TCNJ even more valuable by having the fuller package.”
Additionally, the new anthropology program is designed to fulfill several liberal learning requirements for students and study abroad opportunities are integrated into the program, allowing students to easily fulfill their course requirements while in another country.
“Learning about anthropology is special training in understanding the world around you and gaining new perspectives,” says Li. “It is a crucial skill set for an educated person.”
— Julia Meehan ’22