Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2022
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will practice cultural relativism and apply understandings of global diversity in a practical and applied form.
  • Students will critically analyze and interpret anthropology data so that it can be used to apply to real-world issues.
  • Students will apply anthropological principles for solving human problems on the local, regional and world scales.


Applied anthropology focuses on the use of anthropological theories, perspectives and methods in real world, contemporary contexts of practice or problem-solving. This course, an introduction to the "5th field" of anthropology, provides students with theories, perspectives and skills that will help them recognize, more deeply understand and solve problems affecting local communities in this country and abroad, which have arisen as a result of culture change, modernization and globalization. Major areas of study will include development anthropology, the use of technology in field settings, anthropology and health care, anthropology and advocacy, anthropology and law, tourism and cultural heritage, organizational and business anthropology, and land and cultural resource management.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Define the scope of anthropological inquiry, and discuss the different domains in which applied anthropologists work.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the process and value of applying a holistic analysis to contemporary social problems affecting local communities affected by modernization and globalization.
  3. Demonstrate a familiarity with the methods and theories of applied anthropology, and the phases of applied anthropological research.
  4. Recognize ethical issues related to applied work, and describe the ethical guidelines followed by anthropologists in the field.
  5. Apply anthropological theory, perspectives and methods to the analysis and problem-solving of ethnographic case studies in various domains of applied anthropology, such as development anthropology, applied archaeology and cultural resource management, legal and forensic anthropology, medical anthropology and international health, social work, environmental anthropology, urban anthropology, and business and corporate anthropology.
  6. Recognize and better comprehend issues affecting vulnerable populations at home and abroad.

Course Content

  1. Introduction to applied anthropology
    1. The four fields of anthropology
      1. Physical/biological anthropology
      2. Archaeology
      3. Sociocultural anthropology
      4. Linguistic anthropology
    2. Applied anthropology as a 5th field
      1. History of applied anthropology in the U.S. and abroad
      2. The emergence of the "new applied anthropology" of policy and practice
      3. Relationship of applied anthropology to academic anthropology
      4. Applied vs. practicing anthropology
      5. The role of the applied anthropologist
      6. Survey of the domains in which applied anthropologists work
    3. Anthropological concepts essential to applied research
      1. Concept and characteristics of culture
      2. Approaches to studying culture
      3. Holism and the holistic perspective
      4. Ethnocentrism and naive realism
      5. Cultural relativism
      6. Etic vs. emic perspectives
      7. Processes of culture change
      8. Globalization
      9. Colonialism, postcolonialism and neocolonialism
      10. Indigenous populations and cultural appropriation
  2. Method and theory in applied anthropology
    1. Basic strategies for applied research
    2. Integrating theory and praxis
    3. Underlying principles of applied research
      1. Collaborative research
      2. Community participation, local engagement, stakeholders
      3. Needs assessments
      4. Cultural compatibility
      5. Sustainability
      6. Equity
      7. Policy development
      8. Program evaluation
    4. Ethics of applied ethnography
      1. Protection of human subjects and internal review boards
      2. Intellectual property rights
      3. Public vs. private concerns
    5. Methods of applied cultural anthropology
      1. Qualitative vs. quantitative research methods
      2. Ethnographic fieldwork methods and participant observation
      3. The ethnographic interview
      4. Surveys and questionnaires
      5. Document analysis
      6. Focus groups
      7. Rapport with informants
  3. Domains and case studies of applied anthropology, such as:
    1. Development anthropology
      1. The anthropology-development connection
      2. International development
      3. Development theories and principles
      4. Development organizations
      5. Governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
      6. Women in development
      7. Postcolonial dynamics and development
    2. Applied archaeology
      1. Cultural resource management
      2. Ethnoarchaeology and archaeological ethnographies
      3. Heritage tourism and development
      4. Preservation and conservation
      5. Human/environment dynamics
      6. Public education
      7. Stewardship of archaeological remains
      8. Heritage Conservation, UNESCO and other institutional conservation entities
    3. Legal anthropology
      1. Legal systems and other systems of social control
      2. Dispute resolution
      3. Immigrants, labor laws, health and crime
      4. Refugees and resettlement
      5. Forensic anthropology
    4. Medical anthropology
      1. Biomedicine vs. ethnomedicine
      2. Cross-cultural theories of health, illness/disease and healing
      3. Healthcare systems
      4. Health and disease of indigenous/local populations
      5. Health policy and health education
      6. Regional/global health issues such as HIV in Africa
      7. Pandemics
    5. Social work contexts and policy
      1. Core concepts of contemporary social work
      2. Roles for social workers
      3. Corporate social work
    6. Environmental anthropology
      1. Cultural ecology and human adaptation to the environment
      2. Political ecology
      3. Deforestation and indigenous populations
      4. Multinational oil and mining companies
    7. Urban anthropology
      1. Urbanization
      2. Urban space and urban ecology
      3. Urban development policy
      4. Social stratification, poverty and health
      5. Urban social relations
      6. Effects of globalization
    8. Business and corporate anthropology
      1. Cross-cultural training and cultural brokers
      2. International business
      3. Organizational anthropology
      4. Social marketing
      5. Ethics of business anthropology
  4. Advocacy and activism
    1. Endangered cultures and salvage ethnography
    2. Loss of cultural identity/ loss of land or natural resources
    3. Human rights
    4. Disenfranchisement
    5. Growth of advocacy anthropology
  5. Careers in applied anthropology

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as an online distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous internet and email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Written assignments
1. Weekly reflections on readings
2. Field notes
3. Term paper on field research
4. In-class writing
Oral presentations
1. In-class discussion
2. Group and individual presentations
In-class exams
1. Mid-term exams
2. Final exam

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Guest presentations
Seminar-style discussion
Cooperative learning exercises
Guided field work

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Nolan, R.. Using Anthropology in the World: A Guide to Becoming An Anthropologist Practitioner. 2017.

Ehn, Billy, Orvar Löfgren, and Richard Wilk. Exploring Everyday Life: Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis. 2016.

Nolan, R.. A Handbook of Practicing Anthropology, 1st ed.. 2013.

Podolefsky, A., P. Brown, and S. Lacy. Applying Cultural Anthropology: An Introductory Reader, 8th ed.. 2008.

Gwynee, Margaret. Applied Anthropology: A Career Oriented Approach. 2003.

Ervin, Alexander. Applied Anthropology: Tools and Perspectives for Contemporary Practice, 2nd ed.. 2005.

Although some texts are older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, they remain seminal texts in this area of study.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

  1. Reading assigned texts, articles or handouts and studying class notes.
  2. Doing various homework, including writing reading response essays.
  3. Designing and conducting ethnographic fieldwork in a local setting.
  4. Carrying out secondary source research.
  5. Preparing written and oral presentations.