Gordon F.M. Rakita
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Fall 2008 Syllabus
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