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About the UO Anthropology Department

Dr. Frances White with undergraduate students in one of the department’s biological anthropology teaching labs

The Department of Anthropology is dedicated to better understanding human cultural and biological origins and diversity through education and research. The faculty is committed to excellence in teaching and to the advancement of knowledge through local, national, and international programs of research. As anthropologists, we are engaged in understanding recent and historical developments in the world at large, and we also seek to bring anthropological perspectives to bear on the problems of a modern global society. The department embraces a broad intellectual pluralism where different theoretical and methodological approaches are recognized and valued.

The Department of Anthropology is located in Condon Hall, which houses most laboratories, teaching facilities, and faculty and graduate student offices. The Department of Anthropology’s main office is located in 308 Condon Hall.

Dr. Josh Snodgrass at Fall Convocation with a student from his FIG course (Footprints We Leave)

Anthropology, the study of humans, includes archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. The department is distinctive in its integration of these subfields via five areas of expertise and focus: Evolution, ecology and environment; Sex, gender and sexuality; Indigenous and minoritized groups; Food, health, and society; Identity, heritage and globalization.

Research in the department and the topics we teach in our courses range in focus from local to global. Many research projects engaged in by faculty and graduate students are centered in Oregon, such as Dr. Sandra Morgen’s research on taxes and public policy and Dr. Josh Snodgrass’ work on psychological stress related to romantic relationships among couples from the Eugene-Springfield area. Other projects are international and range from work with subsistence-level groups, such as Dr. Larry Sugiyama’s research among the Shuar forager-horticulturalists of Ecuador, to residents of cosmopolitan societies, such as research in Bangladesh, Mexico, and Barbados by our faculty. Further, archaeologists and biological anthropologists in the department extend the work into the past, such as research by Dr. Gyoung-Ah Lee on the transition to agriculture in prehistoric East Asia and Dr. Stephen Frost’s research in East Africa on early human evolution. Other researchers in the department extend the scope of research in the department beyond humans, such as Dr. Frances White’s research with bonobos on the evolution of social behavior.

Professor and archaeologist Madonna Moss marches in the 2011 University of Oregon Parade of Champions. Photo: Rachelle Raia

The department is medium-sized with nineteen regular faculty members, some of whom share appointments with other units. Interdisciplinary ties are one of our strengths, and thus several faculty members are closely aligned with the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Center for the Study of Women and Society, the Institute for Cognitive and Decision Sciences, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, and the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Faculty within the department also play significant roles in interdisciplinary programs such as Ethnic Studies, Conflict and Dispute Resolution, International Studies, Folklore, and Women’s and Gender Studies; they are also involved in a range of area studies programs, such as Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, European Studies, Russian and East European Studies, African Studies, and Judaic Studies.

Most of the undergraduate teaching in Anthropology is done by the regular faculty, and undergraduates are often integrated into faculty research projects. The department has an established history of educating Native American students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The department attracts outstanding graduate students who find professional employment in a range of fields including academic teaching and research, public and applied anthropology, advocacy, and policy.

Our graduate program is extremely well-regarded and attracts outstanding students from across the nation and around the world. Anthropology is among four doctoral programs at the University of Oregon that were ranked among the nation’s top 15% according to the most recent study by the National Research Council. The NRC study used a variety of statistical metrics to measure “program quality” and then rated programs from the top 222 research institutions in the United States. Twenty-three doctoral programs at the University of Oregon were ranked in this comparison. Anthropology ranked as high as 11th in the nation among comparable anthropology programs (see figure). The other high ranking departments at UO were Psychology, Biology, and Geography.