Display All HSS Courses for 2021-22

Filtered HSS Courses (2021-22)

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Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology

9 units (3-0-6)    |  second term
Introduction to anthropology. Exploration of hunters and gatherers and other early forms of human subsistence and social organization. Evolution of contemporary human diversity and similarity in kinship and marriage, gender relations, language, psychology, religion, witchcraft, division of labor, economic organization, political systems, law, and warfare. Contemporary tribalism and interethnic relations are examined.
Instructor: Ensminger

Human Evolution

9 units (3-0-6)    |  first term
What makes humans unique and how did we evolve? This course will review 8 million years of hominin evolutionary history, focusing on the origins of defining features of our species including bipedalism, tool use, language, and advanced cognition. We will examine evidence from primatology and the genetic, fossil, and archaeological records. Concepts from evolutionary biology and anthropology will be covered including adaptation, phylogenetics, life history theory, behavioral ecology, and gene-culture coevolution. Not offered 2021-2022.

World Archeology

9 units (3-0-6)    |  third term
How do we know what we think we know about ancient peoples and societies? Archaeology is the study of past societies through the material traces they left behind from the great pyramids to microscopic bits of garbage. This course will review the global archaeological record from the earliest stone tools, roughly 3.3 million years ago, through the rise and fall of ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, and the Americas. We will examine evidence and theories pertaining to global dispersals, origins of agriculture, urbanization and societal collapse. Throughout the course we will discuss methodologies of site discovery, excavation, chronometric dating, skeletal analysis, and artifact characterization. We also discuss how the past is used for modern political and social agendas. Students will create virtual museum exhibits on archaeological topics of their choosing. Not offered 2021-2022.

Undergraduate Research

Units to be arranged    |  any term
Prerequisites: advanced Anthropology and instructor's permission.
This course offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research in Anthropology individually or in a small group. Graded pass/fail.

Selected Topics in Anthropology

Units to be determined by arrangement with the instructor    |  offered by announcement
Topics to be determined by instructor.
Instructor: Staff

Ancient Tech: The Archaeology of Revolutionary Inventions

9 units (3-0-6)    |  third term
Technology has influenced our lives for over 3 million years - ever since human ancestors crafted the first stone tools. In this class we will investigate ancient inventions that transformed human societies. Using archaeological methods, theory, and evidence we will reconstruct past technologies and their social consequences. We will evaluate why and how similar technologies arose independently in different cultural contexts. The class will focus on inventions in four realms: 1) stone, bone and metal weaponry, 2) writing and other record keeping systems like the Inka khipu, 3) land transformation and agriculture, and 4) transportation including networks like the Silk Road. Throughout the term, students will work on an anthropological research project of their choice. Not offered 2021-2022.


9 units (3-0-6)    |  second term
Prerequisites: AN 14 or PS 12.
Corruption taxes economies and individuals in both the developing and the developed world. We will examine what corruption means in different places and contexts, from grand financial scandals to misappropriation of all manner of public resources. How do we measure corruption? What are its costs and social consequences? What have culture and psychology got to do with it? How much do governance and a free press matter? What are the potential solutions? Students will work closely with the professor to develop an independent and original research project of their choice. Limited enrollment.
Instructor: Ensminger