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Anthropology is a department in the College of Letters and Science.
Anthropology is the holistic study of the human species in all its physical and cultural variation. One of the distinguishing characteristics of anthropology as a member of the social sciences is its focus on cross-cultural variation, in particular among small-scale, non-western (and many times non-industrialized) societies. In addition, an interest in the phylogeny of our species leads anthropologists (more specifically primatologists, paleoprimatologists, and paleoanthropologists) to study non-human primates.
The anthropology department at UC Davis is one of the top ranked in the country and is comprised of two distinct wings, focused separately on evolutionary and sociocultural anthropology. The evolutionary wing offers an impressive array of specializations, including archaeology, human behavioral ecology, molecular genetics, paleoanthropology, and primatology. Despite a common misconception by folks in the sociocultural wing, very little of the evolutionary wing is concerned with "diggin' up some stuff". Both the sociocultural and parts of the evolutionary wings emphasize fieldwork but otherwise the sociocultural wing is very different. While the evolutionary wing is concerned with using the scientific method to further our understanding of the diversity within our species, the sociocultural wing specializes in "making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange" - including debunking the myths that americans live by. This includes questioning processes of globalization, the veracity of the American Dream, the nature of sexuality, etc. Interestingly, some of these topics are also studied by the behavioral ecology folks in the evolutionary wing, but from a perspective based in the principles of evolutionary biology. For better descriptions of these two wings, check out the evolutionary wing and sociocultural wing's websites.
An interesting point to note about the anthropology department at UC Davis concerns the delicate balance that has been struck between the interests of the evolutionary and sociocultural wings. While the two wings share some resources and generally get along amicably, departments at other schools (notably Stanford) have been torn into two separate departments because they couldn't reconcile their differences. The fact that UC Davis' anthro department consists of two distinct but joined wings is a real strength. There are a unfortunately a rare few in the department that view the separation in terms of a contentious polarization, but most others recognize that we are lucky to be able to learn from one another.
The Anthropology department offers two archaeology fieldschools for the summer of 2005:
Aram Yengoyan. Part of the sociocultural wing. Babbling professor who does not make sense. Mutters a lot. Everyone in the class was utterly confused by him. To make matters worse, he teaches courses such as Ant 100 and Ant 125A which focus on Anthropological theory, which is frequently difficult to understand and require clear teaching.
Donald Donham. Sociocultural. Decent professor, pretty easy, showed some movies in class.
Henry M. McHenry. Evolutionary wing. Everyone who has taken his classes will tell you they love this professor. That's because he's awesome. He is super nice, discusses interesting material, and he is passionate about Evolutionary Anthropology. He is renowned in his field. His favorite species is Australopithecus Afarensis (Lucy). Likes to sing a song for students once a quarter. Teaches Ant 1, Ant 151, Ant 152.
Lynne Isbell. Very nice teacher. Knows a decent amount of material, but not the best lecturer. Easily distracted and could deliver a more coherent message. Teaches Ant 154 C/CL.
Richard McElreath. Part of the evolutionary wing, emphasis in Human Behavioral Ecology. Some topics he discusses are the co-evolution of genes and cultures, whether humans are rational decision-makers. Great prof., young, clear lectures, interesting material, easy-going. Highly recommended. Teaches Ant 105, Ant 122A
Comments about Anthropology at UC Davis
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2008-09-11 18:52:31 Not the best teachers in the world. Take McElreath, he's great. —AVandeleigh
2009-02-16 18:39:54 I've had some very good anthro professors. Tim Weaver's good, McHenry's usually very good. Most of my upper division evolutionary classes have been taught well by folks who know a lot about what they're teaching. I had Yengoyan for Ant 1, and though he's pretty unorganized, he is a real thinker. There's a lot of profound thought in his classes, you have to dig a bit to find it though. —AaronD
2009-07-29 00:38:39 How is Christyann M. Darwent for ANT 003? —JennyLG