Goals and Objectives

Bates College
June 2015

Goal 1:

Students will learn to see human cultures – whether in texts, religious rituals, or political or economic behavior from an anthropological perspective. These insights can be applied both to cultures separated from students’ own cultures by time or space as well as their own cultures.

An anthropological perspective entails:

  1. Recognizing that cultures exist in time and space and are unique to that time and that space. Cultures are distinctive and understanding them requires accepting and negotiating otherness.
  1. Appreciating that cultural forms – from rituals to class relations to one’s self-understanding ­– are socially or culturally constructed and enacted by symbolic process.
  1. Understanding that politics is intrinsically cultural and culture intrinsically political.
  1. Appreciating the influence of the environment in enabling and constraining social life.

Objectives for Goal 1:

  1. Students will be able to carry out ethnographic research beginning in Anthropology S10 or archeological fieldwork, informed by an anthropological perspective, in Anthropology S32. S10 will provide majors with direct exposure to the central role politics and economy play in shaping the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Lewiston.
  1. Exposure to class exercises in Anthropology 103 and 104 will give students an understanding of the role the environment and human biology have played in shaping human behavior over the course of human biological evolution.
  1. Most students have the opportunity to be immersed in another culture and to conduct an individual fieldwork project when they participate in a study-abroad program during their junior year.
  1. Having had a transformative cross-cultural experience either abroad or at home and in either an academic or service-learning context, most students will develop some aspect of that experience as a senior thesis. Others will take up a new project, building on objectives nos. 1 and 2.

Goal 2:

Students will learn that anthropology as a discipline has a strong commitment to issues of social justice.

Objectives for Goal 2:

  1. Students will demonstrate an ability to respect other cultures without abandoning their own points of view both in their coursework and, more specifically, in fieldwork encounters they have during their college careers.
  1. Students will be able to explain and apply ethnographic and archeological ethics in these encounters.
  1. In Anthropology S10 and courses that follow, students will recognize that fieldwork is both a human and an academic enterprise, entailing the need to reciprocate with their interlocutors. S10 serves as both an introduction to fieldwork and an occasion for students to realize that learning is possible through service, and that independent of that learning service is a value in itself.

Goal 3:

Students will understand the process of anthropological interpretation and representation.

Objectives for Goal 3:

  1. Students will acquire the ability to make sense of – that is, describe, interpret, and analyze – an anthropological account or an archaeological data set – while recognizing cultural contradictions, complexity, and ambiguity.
  1. Students will understand major anthropological theories and be able to use them effectively to interpret and analyze ethnographic or archaeological material.
  1. Students will learn to write according to disciplinary standards, the more so as they proceed through the major.
  1. Students will achieve high levels of clarity of thought, skepticism, and willingness to correct their own assumptions.
  1. In Anthropology 333, students will carry out a project that confronts the problems of interpreting and representing the lives of others. In Anthropology 339, students will construct a literature review for an anthropological issue, giving them some understanding of the way anthropological controversies take form and evolve.
  1. In Anthropology 441, students will write a proposal for a senior thesis as a capstone for the work that has gone before, reviewing the literature, laying out a theoretical perspective, and envisioning how that perspective clarifies the issue under analysis.
  1. The senior thesis itself will serve as a vehicle to bring all of these skills to bear on an anthropological/archaeological problem.