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Gordon F.M. Rakita

ANT 2000
Introduction to Anthropology

This course is an introduction to the discipline of Anthropology. Anthropologists explore and try to understand humanity in all its biological and cultural diversity. To do that, anthropologists study people and their societies both in the present and from the past. They study other animals that can inform us about ourselves and how we may have lived in the past. They also study language and how humans use their capacity for symbolic speech to communicate with each other. Anthropologists examine all of these aspects of humankind from both scientific and humanistic perspectives. The goal of Anthropological research is a deep and rich understanding of who we are as humans, how we have changed, and why we are as we are.

Spring 2012 Syllabus

ANT 2100
Introduction to Archaeology

This course provides a background in how Archaeologists examine human societies from the past. In doing so, we will discuss the concepts, tools, and techniques used within the field of Archaeology. Topics covered will include how Archaeological sites are located and excavated, field and laboratory analysis of artifacts and other materials, how sites and artifacts are dated, and how all this information is put together to arrive at descriptions and explanations of the past. We will also discuss a variety of archaeological sites and excavations that provide real-world examples of archaeology in action.

Spring 2006 Syllabus

ANT 3312
North American Indians

This course examines selected Indian groups from a holistic perspective and compares different cultural complexes. Particular attention will be given to religion, world view, kinship, politics and economic subsistence patterns. A study of aboriginal Indian cultures will be used as a basis for comparison with current American cultures.

Summer 2009 Syllabus

ANT 3513
Principles of Physical Anthropology

This course examines the intellectual scope and methods of Physical Anthropology. In doing so it surveys the major fields of the discipline including evolutionary theory, genetics, primate biology and behavior, human biological diversity and evolution, bioarchaeology and forensic analysis. The key objective of the class is to provide students with an understanding of Physical Anthropology's place within and contributions to the study of humankind. A key component of this course involves student participation in laboratory exercises and activities that provide hands on experience with the materials and methods of Physical Anthropology.

Spring 2009 Syllabus

ANT 3740
Introduction to Forensic Sciences

This course is designed to introduce students to those scientific principles, techniques, methods, and technology that are regularly used to solve crimes or aid law enforcement agencies. The course will cover the latest in sophisticated evidence collection and analysis, including fingerprinting, ballistics, trace evidence, serology, DNA fingerprinting, toxicology, and forensic anthropology. The course will also explore methods of crime scene processing, autopsies and manner-of-death determination, processes of corpse decomposition, rules of evidence, and the concept of “chain of custody”. Throughout the course, students will engage in a variety of projects in which they will apply the techniques and methods that they learn to collect and interpret evidence. Students will also engage in the creation and processing of a simulated crime scene. The focus and purpose of these projects and simulated crime scene will be to engage students in active, participatory application of scientific techniques and concepts in the solving of crimes. When not engaged in forensic science, students will attend lectures, hear guest speakers, and go on field trips that will expose them to forensic sciences as they are currently practiced.

Fall 2007 Syllabus

ANT 3933
Seminar in Anthropology

This course will prepare anthropology students for advanced coursework in the anthropological discipline. The course provides an opportunity for students to reflect upon the nature of anthropological inquiry and the variety of data anthropologists use to aid that inquiry. Students will develop an understanding of the multitude of methodologies and techniques employed by anthropologists and how anthropological theories and models articulate with research questions. They will also be exposed to examples of applications of anthropology to concrete social problems. The course will help anthropology majors/minors develop those skills and dispositions necessary to succeed as anthropology students and to begin planning their future careers.

Fall 2008 Syllabus

ANT 4083
Quantitative Methods in Anthropology

This course is structured to provide students with the analytic background necessary to conduct and evaluate quantitative research in Anthropology. The major foci of the class will be on; unit construction and data collection protocols, the statistical tools necessary to conduct analysis of data sets; the design of scientifically valid research projects, and the graphical display of quantitative data. Examples from all four fields of anthropology will be presented in order to provide a broad empirical perspective.  Additionally, this course will cover issues relating to research design, sampling, and ethics.

In this course, students will receive hands-on training in the collection, use, analysis, and display of quantitative data.  Student will be required to complete assignments with numerous example datasets.  In some cases, students will be required to work problems the old-fashioned way; that is, with paper and pencil.  However, students will also be instructed in the various computer software packages currently available for data manipulation (including popular database, spreadsheet, and statistical programs).  Students will learn to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software system for computations involving larger datasets, simple univariate and bivariate comparisons, parametric and non-parametric techniques, more complex multivariate approaches, hypothesis testing, regression and correlation, diversity statistics, resampling and Monte Carlo modeling, and appropriate graphical displays of quantitative data.

Spring 2009 Syllabus

ANT 4192
Archaeological Research Strategy

This course provides a review of the history of modern archaeological thought and practices. In doing so, it provides a background in the theoretical, methodological, and technical developments within the field. Each historical period within the discipline is examined and theoretical paradigms are placed within their social and historical context. Theoretical frameworks to be discussed will include; early 20th century culture-history, the development of scientific archaeology, Symbolic and Structural approaches, Marxism, Gendered and Indigenous archaeologies, Evolutionary approaches, and the development of contemporary Cultural Resource Management. In doing so, the course will examine how the goals and strategies of archaeological research have changed through time.

Spring 2006 Syllabus

ANT 4241
Anthropology of Religion

This course is designed to provide an overview of the Anthropological approach to religion, ritual, myths, and symbolic behavior. We will begin by examining the nature and structure of religious systems and their associated ritual or ceremonial forms. This will be followed by a study of the historical development of theoretical frameworks utilized within Anthropology to understand religion (generally) and ritual (specifically). These frameworks will be briefly contrasted to Sociological and Psychological approaches. Finally, we will discuss in detail a number of current or ethnohistorically documented religious structures, ritual specialists, and ceremonies. These concrete examples will allow us to explore the assumptions, insights, and blind spots of the various frameworks utilized by Anthropologists.

Fall 2008 Syllabus

ANT 4931
Anthropology of Death

As Benjamin Franklin noted, nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes.  The primary goal of this course is to explore the social, cultural, and biological nature of human death and dying.  Examples of topics that will be cover include: mortuary rituals and funerary behavior, the cultural construction of death, the effects of death on the social fabric, morning and bereavement, hospice and end-of-life issues, and medical and ethical issues relating to death.  Throughout the course, students will examine the fascinating variety of social and cultural responses to the biological fact of death.  In doing so, they will be exposed to the Anthropological and Sociological literature that seeks to explain or interpret that tremendous variety.  The course will be cross-cultural, holistic, and bio-cultural in its outlook and will require students to make conceptual connections between theoretical literature and empirical observations.

Spring 2008 Syllabus