Wichita State's Anthropology Department combines a diverse range of courses and concentrations, with opportunities for student-faculty research — opening doors to a wide variety of career paths.


Anthropology at WSU

Founded in 1967, the Department of Anthropology at Wichita State University has grown from three faculty members to six faculty members and four adjunct lecturers. The Holmes Museum of Anthropology, research laboratories, and various field research stations are among the special facilities available to all students, both undergraduate and graduate. Anthropology combines the perspectives of the sciences and the humanities. It examines many aspects of human activity -- psychological, biological, social, and cultural -- including technological, economic, religious, political, and artistic.

An anthropologist explores the vast diversity of human cultures, striving to understand and appreciate the myriad ways of living that constitute alternative solutions to the universal problems of human existence and survival. It has a tradition of four subfields: archaeology, linguistics, cultural, and biological anthropology.

Areas of Emphasis


Archaeologists study the material remains (the buildings, tools, pottery, and other artifacts) of societies in order to understand cultures and to infer the processes of cultural change. Anthropological archaeologists are usually, but not exclusively, concerned with the prehistoric cultures (those without written records) of our early ancestors, people who existed before the emergence of agriculture, the domestication of animals, and the use of metals.

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Biological Anthropology

Biological anthropology, also called physical anthropology, is the subfield of anthropology that focuses on the biological aspects of human beings, especially how they relate to cultural practices, evolution, and the environment. The subfield itself is divided into three major branches which often overlap: paleoanthropology (the study of fossil humans and near relatives); primatology (the study of primates -- humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians); and the study of modern human variation and adaptation.

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Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropologists seek to understand different groups and societies by examining their culture from a holistic perspective, which means the broadest possible context through which the complexities, interconnections, and interdependencies of culture can be comprehended.

Culture can be defined as the entire collection of a group or society's values, beliefs, traditions, perceptions, and behaviors . It encompasses stated as well as unconscious principles by which groups define their lives and the world around them. Every aspect of a group or society -- from family structure, social control, political and economic structures, to religious, artistic, and linguistic principles, even the way we dress and the food we eat -- is part of culture.

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Undergraduate Certificate

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to "capture, store, manipulate, analyze, and display all types of spatially referenced geographic information about what is where on the earth's surface and how they relate to each other" (ESRI 2002). The GIS undergraduate certificate at Wichita State University is essential to undergraduate students anticipating working with its wide-ranging applications, including the capturing of data from your field of study into "layered spatial contexts" known as "Story Maps."
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Museum Studies Graduate Certificate

The Museums Studies Graduate Certificate Program is designed for graduate students and for those who currently work in museums. This is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for careers in the museum field and will enhance the education and knowledge of those currently working in museums.

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Information on anthropology courses offered at Wichita State University

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Email us at anthropology@wichita.edu or call (316) 978-3195.