Anthropology involves the study of present and past human culture and biology to better understand the human species. With diverse but overlapping subfields, including archaeological, biological, sociocultural, linguistic, and applied anthropology (including cultural resource management), anthropology spans the social, behavioral, and natural sciences as well as humanities, providing a strong core to a liberal arts education. Whether studying the diversity of marriage customs in human societies, anatomical changes in the foot during human evolution, biocultural factors contributing to chronic disease, cultural and biological changes surrounding the transition to agriculture, or the origins of language, anthropologists are united in trying to understand who we are, where we come from, and where we will go in the future.
As we face the many challenges of globalization in today’s world, the knowledge we gain through the study of anthropology becomes increasingly important: studying past and present human biological and cultural variability to better understand the interactions among culturally, religiously, and politically diverse societies; preserving cultural resources for future generations; learning about the biological, political, and cultural factors responsible for the spread of diseases to mitigate effects of future outbreaks; applying the techniques of forensic anthropology to a mass graves to bring crimes against humanity to justice. An undergraduate degree in anthropology gives students a strong foundation for many different career paths that may or may not include the pursuit of an advanced degree.
The Four Corners Region provides an ideal location for anthropological experiences outside of the traditional classroom, some of which lead to paid employment both during and after degree completion. In archaeology, students will find opportunities to participate in local historical-period and prehistoric fieldwork and participate in volunteer work and internships at nationally renowned organizations like Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon of the Ancients, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, The Anasazi Heritage Center, and Aztec Ruins National Monument. Fort Lewis College students have assisted with the analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in the Durango area and have also pursued advanced research projects using the skeletal collections at the Maxwell Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Students work in a variety of other internship settings in the vicinity of Fort Lewis College. For the past several years, anthropology, psychology, and sociology students have worked as field researchers and data analysts for the El Pomar-funded Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Project. Two students who have double majors in Anthropology and Gender/Women's Studies--Andrea Rossi and Whitney Manning--currently serve, respectively, as Events Coordinator for Durango's Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO), and Crisis Services Coordinator for Alternative Horizons. Other organizations into which our students have recently been placed include Planned Parenthood, the Humane Society, and the Women's Resource Center.
Anthropology covers a variety of areas relevant to Native American peoples. Enrolling in Fort Lewis College’s anthropology program is a start in looking at a career in tribal cultural resource management, language preservation, American Indian politics, and other fields of vital concern to American Indian peoples. Our curriculum offers courses that offer background information on the Native peoples across the continent (Mesoamerica, Andes) as well as the American Southwest. Some of our Native American anthropology graduates are currently working for their home tribes, such as Abraham Pedro (Cheyenne-Arapaho of Oklahoma), Elaine Cleveland (Navajo Nation), Suzanne Casey (Ute Mountain Ute), and Summer Johnson (Meskwaki of Iowa).