Our Department

Department Philosophy

We offer an expansive outlook on human cultures, providing multiple opportunities for hands-on anthropological fieldwork, including field-based courses and lengthy field trips. The block system promotes creative teaching and rigorous expectations for reading, writing, and critical qualitative and quantitative analysis in anthropology.

All four sub-fields of American anthropology are represented in our department: archaeology, which focuses on the material cultures and peoples of the past; biological anthropology, which concentrates on the relationships between culture and biology in the lives of humans and our evolutionary relatives; linguistic anthropology, which addresses both the formal complexity of linguistic systems and the role they play in regulating and negotiating social life; and sociocultural anthropology, which concentrates on contemporary peoples and their values, practices and organization. Students study all four sub-fields in introductory courses, and pursue advanced-level courses in at least two sub-fields.

Anthropology majors aspire to careers in the arts, business, and a variety of professions and service agencies as well as anthropology. As a result, no single set of requirements is sufficient. The introductory and most intermediate (200-) level courses are open to all students, have no prerequisites, and generally satisfy certain all-college requirements in addition to requirements for the anthropology major. Intermediate courses explore anthropological perspectives on questions that are also central to other academic disciplines. With appropriate prerequisites, most advanced courses are also open to non-majors.

Recognizing Colorado College's role as a liberal arts institution, the Department of Anthropology encourages its majors to work out a program of all-college study that complements their interest in anthropology.

Department of Anthropology Anti-Racism Statement 

The Department of Anthropology is committed to anti-racism in our curriculum, teaching and everyday practices. We recognize anti-racism as an active rather than passive form of resistance to racism. This active resistance requires an awareness of racism as systemic, affecting all areas of society; as shaped intersectionally in relation with ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality; and as embedded within foundational institutions historically shaped by colonialism. We seek to work actively against the deeply ingrained ideology and culture of racism (Hill 2008) that often works unconsciously in our thoughts and actions. While people of color are most harmed by everyday racism, everyone in a racist society should be responsible for anti-racist work and must "challenge, interrupt, modify, erode and eliminate any and all manifestations of racism" within our own spheres of influence (Derman-Sparks and Phillips 1997: 3). For those who identify as white, this may involve managing "white fragility" and feelings of anger or shame at being privileged by or complicit with racism. Our department embraces American Anthropology's foundation in anti-racist action. Known as one of the founding figures in American Anthropology, Franz Boas worked to debunk notions of racial superiority/inferiority and established a relativist approach to understanding the differences between human populations, an approach that recognized all humans as equal (Baugh 2018, King 2019, Morris-Reich 2006). Anthropologists have also worked to address public misconceptions about race (See AAA statement on Raceand the AAPA Statement on Race and Racism). At the same time, our department also recognizes our discipline's early foundations in colonialism and continued ideological entanglements with colonialism and white supremacy (Wolfe 1999, Anderson 2019). Remaining conscious of these entanglements, we are committed to decolonizing our discipline, building on the existing anti-racist contributions of anthropologists and other scholars, and learning from the diverse and lived experiences of all people of color.



Anderson, Mark. 2019. From Boas to Black Power: Racism, Liberalism, and American Anthropology.Stanford: Stanford University Press

Baugh, John. 2018. Linguistics in Pursuit of Justice.New York: Cambridge University Press.

Derman-Sparks, Louise and Carol B. Phillips. 1997. Teaching/Learning Anti-Racism: A Developmental Approach.New York: Teachers College Press.

Hill, Jane H. 2008. The Everyday Language of White Racism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

King, Charles. 2019. Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex and Gender in the Twentieth Century. New York: Doubleday.

Morris-Reich, Amos. 2006. Race, Ideas, and Ideals: A Comparison of Franz Boas and Hans F. K. Günther. History of European Ideas32(3):313-332.

Wolfe, Patrick. 1999. Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event. London and New York: Cassell.

Report an issue - Last updated: 09/05/2022