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Why Anthropology?

"I had been looking for a society reduced to its simplest expression. The society of the Nambikwara had been reduced to the point at which I found nothing but human beings."
-Claude Lévi-Strauss
Anthropology examines human adaptation, variation, and change. From a holistic perspective anthropologists study human adaptability in the past, present, and future by analyzing culture, society, language, and biology.

There are five main sub-disciplines in anthropology. Cultural anthropologists conduct participant-observation fieldwork in communities throughout the world. Archeologists investigate material cultural remains to better understand human behavior. Linguistic anthropologists examine how speech and language is used to communicate ideas about our environment and how language and speech changes over time and across geographical areas. Biological anthropologists research questions pertaining to human evolution, forensics, genetics, human growth and development, and demographics. Applied anthropology is conducted in all of these four sub-fields.

Today many anthropologists work in applied fields that use anthropological methods and theories to identify and solve contemporary social problems.

Anthropology at UAS

Students have many opportunities to learn about anthropology at UAS. There are a wide variety of classes that emphasize theories, methods, and ideas in the five sub-disciplines of anthropology. Students may also pursue a minor in Alaska Native Studies, with a combined focus upon northwest coast art, history, language, and literature.

Practical Experience

Anthropology is not limited to the classroom. In many courses you will be engaged in practical study, from archaeological fieldwork to interviewing elders. You will also have the opportunity to participate in archeological field schools, ethnographic studies, and internships.

Careers in Anthropology

Cultural anthropology

  • Forest Service and National Park Service
  • State Fish and Game
  • Tribal organizations and ANCSA village and regional corporations
  • Heritage tourism
  • Museums
  • Non-profit organizations working in health, social, and human services areas
  • Teaching


When major development work is proposed on federal lands an assessment of cultural resources (archeology) must be made as part of the Environmental Impact Statement. This provides a need for archeologists and/or "cultural resource managers."

  • Forest Service
  • National Park Service
  • State Historic Preservation Office
  • Tribal organizations
  • Private contractors
  • Museums

Biological Anthropology

  • State law enforcement, forensic anthropology
  • Health care services
  • State agencies monitoring health issues

Linguistic anthropology

As bilingual programs develop in Alaska, this field may well employ many teachers and researchers.

  • Preservation of Alaska Native languages
  • Instruction of Alaska Native languages


Within the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, you pursue a minor field of study. Minors at UAS that combine well with an emphasis in anthropology are:

  • Alaska Native Studies
  • Biology
  • Communication
  • Spanish

These programs build upon your emphasis in anthropology by enhancing an understanding of human diversity from additional perspectives.


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