To better reflect changes in anthropology and enable students to be more specialized, the Anthropology Department at Cal State Fullerton has proposed restructuring the major into three divisions.
Anthropology, the study of humankind, constitutes many divisions, and the department has suggested three subfields: cultural anthropology, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, to provide students with a focal point for their studies.
The proposal will also restore the graduate anthropology program, which has been closed for the past three years, starting in the fall 2014 semester.
Carl Wendt, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology, helped write the proposal, including the series of bylaws and the revised graduate program.
Three anthropology professors, Wendt, John Bock, Ph.D., and Barbra Erickson, Ph.D., will each represent a proposed anthropology subdivision.
Wendt will be in charge of the archaeology program.
The three will all act as coordinators and work with Mitchell Avila, Ph.D., the associate dean for academic programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The process has been ongoing for about a year before the proposal went to Sheryl Fontaine, Ph.D., the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
It then went up to Provost Jose Cruz, Ph.D., who approved it, and proceeded to an ad hoc committee that made recommendations and held an open forum on March 5.
Kristi Kanel, Ph.D., a professor of human services, was appointed by the Academic Senate to be the chair of the ad hoc committee to handle the proposal of creating a division of anthropology.
Kanel sent a report to Sean Walker, Ph.D, the chair of the senate, and recommended that the senate support the proposal. The senate scheduled a vote on the proposal for March 20.
The proposal was envisioned with the goal of developing the department’s own chair and administration.
“Back in 2010, there were issues and we had an external chair from sociology, and he retired, so the dean’s office decided to take over the administration of our department,” Wendt said.
At that time, anthropology professors at CSUF had a department and faculty to teach all of the classes, and students could still receive anthropology degrees, but they did not have a chair. Additionally, the dean’s office in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences handled administrative duties for the department on a temporary basis.
Wendt said the department’s goal is to develop the three concentrations to allow students to focus on an aspect they are most interested in.
“We want the administrative structure to mimic those concentrations, so we found it was beneficial first to get our self-governance back … and then move the concentrations through,” Wendt said.
That is also the case with the field of anthropology itself, which Wendt said was “moving toward more specialization.”
“I think it’s going to give us a good reputation, because now for people wanting to come and major in anthropology, students are going to know that these are programs that really specialize, and have expertise in these areas,” Kanel said.
For students to become more prepared for the job market and for graduate school, this new proposal will be very beneficial to them.
“Say you want to be (the character) Bones from that TV show Bones, you know you’re going to go to the archaeology program and you know you’re going have a better sense of things,” Kanel said. “You’ll get an exposure to all of it, of course, but now students will be able to have better advisement, have an understanding.”
Teaching anthropology is important because it is about human value and human diversity, which fosters a greater understanding of others, Wendt said.
“It’s a need for anthropology, (a need) for an anthropological perspective on the world, one that looks at all the different aspects of what it is to be human: in the past, in the present, in different cultures, in all places, all times.”
The new proposed plan will also consist of the three coordinators acting as advisors of their particular subfields for the students.
“It gives the students that much more of a direct person to go to who could really help them, because the field is really broad. We study humans in all places at all times … so you almost have to specialize a little bit,” Wendt said.
The anthropology department has 15 tenured and tenure-track faculty, who have all expressed support for the proposal.
Wendt said across the board, the department has received strong support from others, because everybody sees this change will be a move forward for the university, for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and for the students.
“All of the people in anthropology support it; when you have that much support from administration and faculty, I think it’s always better for students,” Kanel said.
When everyone agrees and supports a proposal or plan, it frees up the faculty members’ time to give students the best education possible, Kanel said.