Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Fall 2020
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in ANTH 2A.
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 have tools to better understand and appreciate the diversity of human behavior in small-scale and more complex societies, including their own, through an ability to recognize and articulate the characteristics and elements of culture, and the ways in which anthropologists study and explain the diversity of human behavior around the world.
  • Students will expand their awareness of the peoples of the world, and the different ways of living and being in the world, through an exposure to a variety of ethnographic studies and cross-cultural explorations.
  • Students will have a new set of skills to better understand and address conflicts and social issues by learning to apply anthropological methods and principles, particularly holism, recognizing ethnocentric biases, and practicing cultural relativism, to solve human problems on the local, regional and world scales.


Introduction to the study of human culture and the concepts, theories, and methods used in the comparative study of sociocultural systems, with an emphasis on understanding and appreciating human diversity. Topics include a cross-cultural exploration of: subsistence strategies; social, political and economic organization; language and communication; marriage and kinship; religion; gender; ethnicity and race; social inequality; culture change; and the effects of colonialism and globalization. Focus is made on the application of anthropological perspectives to contemporary social issues. As an honors course, it is a full thematic seminar with advanced teaching methods focusing on major writing, reading, and research assignments, student class lectures, group discussions and interactions.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Define the scope of anthropology and discuss the role of cultural anthropology within the discipline.
B. Recognize the methods, theories and perspectives used to study and understand human cultures, and explain the importance of the ethnographic method in the study of culture.
C. Employ the relativist perspective while discussing cultural variation.
D. Demonstrate an understanding of anthropological concepts, including language and communication, economic systems, political organization, marriage and kinship, gender, race and ethnicity, and religion.
E. Explain the interconnectedness of the economic, political and sociocultural forces of globalization amongst diverse cultural groups.
F. Recognize the value of applying anthropological perspectives, methods and theories to solve contemporary social problems.

Course Content

A. Introduction to anthropology as a discipline and the sub disciplines within anthropology
B. In-depth understanding of cultural anthropology in a global age
1. Guiding principles of cultural anthropology
a. Holism
b. Avoiding ethnocentrism
c. Practicing cultural relativism
2. Etic vs. emic perspectives
3. Ethnology and ethnography
4. Cultural relativism dilemma
C. Concept and characteristics of culture
1. Evolution of the first human cultures
2. Characteristics of culture
a. Shared
b. Learned
c. Symbolic
d. Integrated
e. Adaptive
f. Dynamic
3. Cross-cultural mis-cues
4. Processes of culture change
5. Rights and issues concerning indigenous cultures
D. Theoretical approaches and methods used in cultural anthropology
1. Unilinear evolutionary approach (contributions and criticisms)
2. Historical particularism
3. Functionalism
4. Interpretive anthropology and postmodern approaches
5. Ethnography and ethnographic fieldwork methods
6. Ethics in anthropology
7. Applied anthropology
E. Language and communication
1. Descriptive linguistics
2. Historical linguistics
3. Sociolinguistics
4. Linguistic relativism and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
F. Making a living
1. Adaptation
2. Patterns of subsistence
3. Economic systems
a. Production
b. Forms of distribution and exchange
4. Globalization
G. Political systems
1. Types of power
a. Authority
b. Persuasion
c. Coercion
2. Types of political organization
a. Band
b. Tribe
c. Chiefdom
d. State
3. Social control
4. Maintaining order through law
5. Conflict and warfare
H. Marriage and kinship
1. Forms of marriage
2. Family and household
3. Kinship systems and terminologies
I. Sex, gender and human sexuality
1. Difference between sex and gender
2. Gender identities
3. Variation in gender roles
4. Human sexuality
J. Religion and the supernatural
1. Anthropological approaches to religion
2. Rituals and ceremonies
3. Rites of passage
4. Magic and witchcraft
5. Functions of religion
6. Religion and cultural change
K. Globalization challenges
1. Effects of colonialism
2. World systems
3. Role of global corporations
4. Pollution and climate change
5. Overpopulation
6. Role of applied anthropology

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. When taught as an online or hybrid 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:
A. Preparedness and participation in seminar style discussions on topics relevant to the lectures and primary source readings such as journal articles in American Anthropology or Current Anthropology.
B. Homework.
1. Weekly 2-3 page written reflections on assigned readings.
2. Completion of handouts applying concepts.
C. Group and/or individual oral presentations.
D. Midterm examination.
E. Final examination.
F. Field-based research project.
1. Students may be required to develop and carry out a field-based research project utilizing ethnographic fieldwork methods.
2. Students may be required to research a contemporary culture through ethnographic sources.

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of instruction may include but are not limited to: lecture, seminar-style discussions, active learning exercises, independent and group field work, oral presentations.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Haviland, William, Harald Prins, Dana Walrath and Bunny McBride. Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge. 14th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2014.

Schultz, Emily A. and Robert H. Lavenda. Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition. 9th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Angeloni, Elvio, ed. Anthropology Annual Editions 14/15. 37th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2014.

Although the following texts are older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, they remain seminal texts (ethnographies) in this area of study:

Chagnon, Napoleon. Yanomamo. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 1996.

Lee, Richard B. The Dobe Ju/'hoansi. 3rd ed. Toronto, Canada: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.


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

Students may be required to read longer, more complex journal articles in cultural anthropology and/or full-length ethnographies. Students may be required to write a paper of 12-20 pages in length based either on primary data collected through fieldwork, or an analysis of multiple secondary sources.