Why you should take an anthropology course

Craig Efrati, Staff Writer

I took a cultural anthropology class during my first term at Union, and it transformed the way I approached text and perspectives of the world. It was hands down a class I will never forget and even though I had my doubts going into it, I was very happy with everything that I gained from taking the class. The course focused on looking at culture and how anthropologists do what they do in the United States and Great Britain. It was fascinating to me because of how we read about the dead and learned about cultural practices in places all across the world such as Papua New Guinea and Africa. Through reading rich texts as well as watching intriguing films, we got an idea of how life operated in these places throughout history.

However, it was also the experiences of Professor Stephen Leavitt who made the course empowering; how he told us stories of his own archeological adventures, and taught us the importance of getting more out of the class than grades. It was truly in this class that I also began to learn what close reading meant and how to analyze a text in the most effective way. I gained a deep understanding of how anthropologists operate and the tools they use to conduct their research.

One of the reasons I believe everyone at Union should take an anthropology course is because of the meaningful way you learn to observe and write about others. One of the assignments for this course was to collect field notes on a given topic and write about them. This assignment was particularly important because of how field notes allow you to record and observe events around you so you don’t forget them. They also allow you to organize your thoughts and see the world better. Hands down, the most important skill I gained from this class was the ability to be a passive observer and write in a way that illustrated a particular view. And this was accomplished through the use of field notes.

Another important skill gained from Anthropology is the ability to have an open mind about other cultures and perspectives. Through being introduced to other ideas and cultures, the mind becomes open to taking in new information and learning about the world in a new and original way. This skill of being able to think differently has many applications to different careers and can allow a person to truly unpack the world around them.

A final skill I learned was how to make use of complex texts and read in a way that probed deeper thinking and questioning. I think the skill of reading critically can apply to everyone.

I sincerely believe that anthropology has the power to enrich everyone’s minds and make them think differently about the world around them.