Today was the start of my Cultural Anthropology 2200 course for the Fall 2009 semester.This is a course that I have taught for over 20 years and it is always exciting at the beginning of the semester primarily because I get another opportunity to talk about culture and how important it is to all of us!
The major course objectives for this Cultural Anthropology course are:
1. To provide a comprehensive introduction to the discipline of Cultural Anthropology — its fundamental principles and key concepts.
2. To encourage awareness of cultural and human diversity.
3. To help all students make sense of our increasingly interconnected world and to find their particular place in it.
In this course, we cover the entire field of cultural anthropology and actually connect with so many other disciplines outside the field. This is where I attempt to make cultural anthropology relate to everyone who takes this course regardless of their major or expertise.
Here are a few major topics that we talk about in this course:
1. The Characteristics of Culture
2. Language and Communication
3. Becoming Human
4. Social Identity, Personality and Gender
5. Groupings by Gender, Age, Common Interest and Class
6. Politics, Power and Violence
7. The Arts
8. Global Challenges
We will discuss specific cultural sketches on particular groups throughout the world. This type of investigation will allow us to not only see people and cultures of the world who are different but more importantly how similar they really are when you analyze them anthropologically.
In this course, I also take advantage of the ECU blackboard system so there will be assignments in which students will have to respond using the discussion board system.
Finally, since cultural anthropology is really about understanding all types of cultures (present and past), we will conduct informal cultural anthropological fieldwork outside our classroom when the weather permits. Therefore, some classes will be held outside so that we can observe cultural activity on ECU’s campus!
Well, that’s it for now. Here we go again on another fun and enlightening semester of cultural anthropology!