Feb 28, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Anthropology, Biological Anthropology Concentration, B.A.

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Dr. Beth A. Eck, Department Head
Phone: (540) 568-6171                                      
Email: eckba@jmu.edu
Location: Sheldon Hall, Room 123                   
Website: http://www.jmu.edu/socanth

Sociology Program
Dr. Benjamin D. Brewer, Coordinator
Phone: (540) 568-7391
Email: brewerbd@jmu.edu
Location: Sheldon Hall, Room 212

Anthropology Program
Dr. Liam Buckley, Coordinator
Phone: (540) 568-6171                                       
Email: bucklelm@jmu.edu
Location: Sheldon Hall, Room 117                    

L. Buckley, B. Eck, A. Paugh, S. Poulson

Associate Professors
B. Brewer, B. Bryson, C. Colocousis, K. Dobransky, M. Ezzell, R. Lawler, J. Linder, M. Polanco, J. Solometo, J. Spear, K. Tanaka, M. Tracy

Assistant Professors
D. Blanton, R. Howes-Mischel, S. Newman, L. Porter, D. Trouille

Mission Statement

Anthropology is unique among the social sciences in that it celebrates humans as biological organisms and as innovative, creative, culture-bearing beings. Through course work, field schools, study abroad, independent studies and internships, students learn about cultural, linguistic, and biological diversity, human biological characteristics, and the human past as revealed by archaeology. The anthropology program provides globally-oriented courses that stress critical thinking, method and theory, gathering and interpreting data, intensive reading and writing, hands-on learning and the research methods and techniques used by anthropologists to understand contemporary human problems.


The Anthropology program has the following goals:

  • To introduce students to the nature of culture and of diverse cultural systems, their social organization and how anthropologists interpret cultural differences and similarities.
  • To introduce students to the relevance of human biology for understanding contemporary human populations and biological variation and disease and to provide them with the fundamentals of evolutionary theory and the fossil and genetic evidence that supports it.
  • To develop student understanding of cultural origins and the development of human societies through the analysis of material remains (artifacts) left by prehistoric and historic cultures.
  • To encourage an integrative approach to understanding the human condition that incorporates the contributions of all sub-disciplines of anthropology.

Career Opportunities and Marketable Skills

An undergraduate degree in Anthropology provides a solid foundation for a wide range of rewarding careers. Students with a B.A. or B.S. degree in anthropology have gone on to become:

  • Graduate students in archaeology, cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistics and area studies programs.
  • Professors of anthropology in each of the sub-disciplines
  • Professional students in law, medicine, education, international affairs, public policy and public health
  • Americorps and Peace Corps volunteers
  • Archivists
  • Business executives
  • City planners and government officials
  • College librarians
  • Field archaeologists
  • Cultural affairs directors
  • Historical preservationists
  • Museum and zoo curators and staff
  • International aid workers and development consultants
  • Management trainees
  • Nurses, medical technicians and physicians assistants
  • Forensic analysts
  • Coroners
  • Technical writers
  • Conservation scientists and practitioners

The anthropology major is a liberal arts program that stresses such marketable skills as:

  • Data analysis
  • Computer skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Global knowledge
  • Research skills
  • Rigorous writing and presentation skills

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

  • Lambda Alpha, Anthropology Honors Society
  • Student Anthropology Club

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education  41 Credit Hours 1
  • Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 0-14 Credit Hours 2
  • Philosophy course (in addition to General Education  courses) 3 Credit Hours
  • University electives (beyond major) 25-39 Credit Hours
  • Major requirements (listed below) 40-41 Credit Hours

Total: 120 Credit Hours


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ placement test.

Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. degree in anthropology, students complete 40-41 credit hours in the major. Given the diverse opportunities the discipline provides, the major is designed to allow students the opportunity to work closely with their advisers to develop a curriculum appropriate to their personal and professional interests. Those students wishing to do so may elect to pursue a concentration in one of the three sub-disciplines of cultural, biological or archaeological anthropology.

The concentrations guide students in choosing courses to enhance opportunities for graduate school or allow them to pursue an area of personal interest within the larger discipline of anthropology. Up to two elective courses from a discipline outside of anthropology may be applied to the major. Elective courses from outside of the program must be approved by the student’s adviser and must be at the 300- or 400-level. Students must receive at least a “C-” in a class to have it count toward the major.

General Program

The general program provides students with a holistic introduction to the breadth of anthropology highlighting experience in the subdisciplines of cultural, archaeological and biological anthropology, as well as introductory experiences in linguistics. The program is designed to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of the discipline in preparation for advanced graduate training or as an adjunct to their personal and professional aspirations.

Required Courses

Total: 40-41 Credit Hours


1 Students should take two of ANTH 195 , ANTH 196  or ANTH 197  and at least one anthropology elective before taking ANTH 375 .
2 Students may take up to two adviser approved electives at the 300 or 400 level from courses outside of the program.
3 Students should consider including ANTH 305. Language and Culture , as one of their electives.

Biological Anthropology Concentration

The focus of biological anthropology is the study of human biology from an evolutionary perspective. Biological anthropology is interested in understanding how and why the human species became what it is today. Thus, it involves the study of human evolution, human biology and its variation, human ecology (how humans interrelate with their environment) and primate behavior and biology (to place humans in the proper comparative context). Biological anthropologists also recognize that human culture, and learned behavior in general, are fundamentally important to understanding the human condition which leads them to emphasize a bio-cultural approach in which both biology and culture are integrated into a holistic understanding of humanity.

Students work closely with biological anthropology faculty to choose electives from both within and outside of the department to refine their own research and scholarly interests. Upper-level electives in biology, psychology and/or geographic sciences are recommended depending on the student’s particular goals. Students might consider taking a minor or second major in these disciplines. Students are strongly encouraged to gain practical experience in biological anthropology through study abroad, internships or independent study with faculty.

Required Courses

Choose two of the following courses: 6 Credit Hours

Total: 40 Credit Hours


1 Students should take two of ANTH 195 , ANTH 196  or ANTH 197  and at least one anthropology elective before taking ANTH 375 .
2 Students may take up to two adviser approved electives at the 300 or 400-level from courses outside of the program. BIO 270. Human Physiology (3, 2)  and BIO 290. Human Anatomy (3, 3)  are accepted electives.
3 In addition to biological anthropology courses, students are encouraged to take electives from across the breadth of cultural and linguistic anthropology and archaeology.

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