Anthropology at VCU
Standing with South African Ambassador to the U.S., Ibrahim Rasool (third from left), are from left to right: VCU Anthropology professors Edward Abse, Amy Rector Verrelli, Christopher Brooks, Christopher Stevenson, and Noel Boaz.
Welcome to the School of World Studies Anthropology website!
The primary goal of the faculty of Anthropology is to provide encouragement and support for students to actively engage in learning about the world around them. Whether students choose to concentrate their studies in anthropology or take anthropology courses as a complement to a major in another subject, they will find that this commitment shapes their studies. In anthropology courses students are continuously encouraged to critically assess the information and knowledge with which they are presented. The faculty takes as its point of departure that each student has an active, critical interest in partaking in the learning process and that each student brings unique life experiences to the classroom which can enrich the production of knowledge that takes place in that context of the course. The anthropology faculty practices a student-centered learning approach, encouraging and supporting our students to be actively involved in their own learning processes. The knowledge, skills and unique perspectives of our discipline cannot be taught. The independent, analytical and critical thinking of anthropology students is formed by their interest in the discipline and active work while attaining the knowledge of the discipline. We are committed to making our insights and experiences available to our students in order to help each one define and reach individual educational goals. Students in our program for one course or for many find that we put an emphasis on student-centered learning. We continuously encourage students to critically assess the information and knowledge with which they are presented by us and by others. Students in anthropology classes tackle difficult readings, make oral presentations and write a variety of journals and papers. They work in small groups, collaborate on projects and at times even teach their classmates. Many courses require active professional experience outside of the classroom, computer competency and research skills.
After graduation, anthropology students may choose to go directly into applied work in anthropology, draw from the discipline to enhance opportunities in another profession, or pursue graduate training in anthropology. Regardless, our students find that the mastery of oral and written presentation skills is a decisive factor in their ability to independently establish and achieve goals. We have crafted a program to provide each student with the very best tools for meeting such challenges in their future.
We encourage anthropology majors and minors to take courses with as many different professors in our program as possible. While we are committed to a general teaching philosophy, we each bring a unique perspective to the discipline, which will enrich students’ educational experience. All faculty teach differently and, like all the different people and organizations students will encounter, we have our individual preferences when it comes to writing styles, presentation formats and classroom participation.
On this web site, you will find general introductions to critical thinking, writing and oral presentation skills as well as a discussion of the anthropology program’s grading standards. These discussions are in no way exhaustive. If you need additional assistance, we strongly suggest and recommend that you consult one of the available handbooks in the library or bookstore and that you ask the faculty about these important matters. We strongly stress that we do not demand one particular writing or presentation style. However, when it comes to details, for instance, on how to write references or cite material, these suggestions are supported by disciplinary practices in anthropological journals and books; therefore, these things should be viewed as part of your professional development.
Regardless of the general format used, there are always two golden rules for any written or oral presentation: that you consistently implement the format you choose, and that the format helps the listener/reader to acquire and understand the knowledge and arguments you present. The easier it is to follow your presentation, the more weight your arguments carry.
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Virginia Commonwealth University
The anthropology program at Virginia Commonwealth University provides students with a rigorous foundation in the field of Anthropology, including its foci on cultures past and present, human development and tolerance of different worldviews. Anthropology classes stress the exchange of ideas and build students’ strengths in critical thinking, communication, and intellectual exploration. The anthropology faculty consists of active scholars in various areas of expertise and it brings to the classroom a commitment to making the results of its scholarship relevant and useful. Students are asked to engage in guided, independent studies in which they explore their own communities and venture into new academic and social situations. Anthropology is, by its nature, interdisciplinary and international in both theory and practice. The anthropology program at VCU offers students from many diverse backgrounds the opportunity to thoroughly and creatively explore the world and the peoples around them.
The Bachelor of Science curriculum in anthropology seeks to ensure that each student develops a solid foundation in the basic principles, theories and techniques of analysis within the discipline. Since students majoring in anthropology vary in their interests and career goals, the curriculum allows for flexibility in developing individual courses of study. The program provides opportunities for involvement in faculty research through its course offerings, which include independent study, internships, and honors research.