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 to investigations of current society.
  • Students will critically analyze and interpret ethnographic data acquired as part of in-depth field research.
  • Students will apply anthropological principles for solving human problems on the local, regional and world scales.


A cross-cultural, comparative and hands-on study of patterns in culture with a focus on recognizing, understanding and appreciating cultural diversity through ethnographic case studies. Introduces students to qualitative research methods in the social sciences in general, and more specifically to the concepts, theories and ethnographic methods used by cultural anthropologists in the study of human culture and societies. Students are provided with an opportunity to design and carry out original research through ethnographic field study.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Define the scope of anthropology and discuss the role of cultural anthropology within the discipline and more broadly within the social sciences.
  2. Understand the history, place and nature of ethnography as a process and a product within cultural anthropology and the social sciences, and the role of ethnography and ethnographic studies to reduce prejudice and bias.
  3. Recognize the characteristics of qualitative research methods and utilize ethnographic methods and approaches to collect, analyze and interpret cultural behavior.
  4. Demonstrate an appreciation for cultural diversity and employ a relativist perspective while observing and analyzing cultural variation.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of anthropological concepts including the concept and characteristics of culture, language and communication, ecology and economic systems, political organization, marriage and kinship, gender, race and ethnicity, religion and globalization.
  6. Recognize the value of utilizing ethnographic methods and applying anthropological approaches to solve contemporary social problems.

Course Content

  1. Introduction to anthropology and its 4 fields
  2. Guiding principles of cultural anthropology including the concept of culture
    1. Concept and characteristics of culture
    2. Approaches to studying culture
    3. Guiding principles of cultural anthropology
      1. Holism
      2. Avoiding ethnocentrism
      3. Cultural relativism
      4. Etic vs. emic perspectives
      5. Naive realism
  3. Introduction to qualitative research in the social sciences
    1. Quantitative vs. qualitative methods
    2. Survey of qualitative methods
  4. Introduction to ethnography and ethnographic fieldwork
    1. Historical context of ethnography
    2. Ethnography as a process and a product
    3. Ethnographic fieldwork methods and approaches
      1. Participant observation
      2. Structured and unstructured observation
      3. Structured and unstructured interviewing
      4. Surveys and questionnaires
    4. Data analysis and interpretation
    5. Ethics of ethnographic fieldwork
      1. Rapport with informants
      2. Informed consent
  5. Ethnographic exploration of cultural systems, patterns and variation
    1. Language and communication
    2. Ecology and subsistence
    3. Economic systems
    4. Kinship and family
    5. Identity, roles and groups
    6. Law and politics
    7. Religion, magic and world view
  6. Globalization and culture change
    1. Processes of culture change
    2. Effects and impacts of globalization on indigenous cultures
    3. Tourism and cultural heritage
  7. Role of ethnography and applied anthropology in contemporary settings
    1. Medical anthropology
    2. Corporate anthropology
    3. International development
    4. Education

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

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 the following:

Written assignments
1. Weekly reflections on readings and field work assignments
2. Term paper on field research
3. 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:

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

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Madden, Raymond. Being Ethnographic: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Ethnography. 2017.

Guest, K.. Essentials of Culture Anthropology: A toolkit for a Global Age, 3rd ed.. 2020.

Guest, K.. Cultural Anthropology Fieldwork Journal, 3rd ed.. 2020.

McCurdy, David, Diana Shandy, and James Spradley (late). Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology, 15th ed.. 2016.

Angrosino, Michael. Doing Cultural Anthropology, 2nd ed.. 2007.

McCurdy, David, Diana Shandy, and James Spradley (late). The Cultural Experience: Ethnography in Complex Society, 2nd ed.. 2005.

Although some texts are older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, they are still appropriate for undergraduate coursework 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.