Welcome to Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University.

Over the last 10 years, the Department of Anthropology has changed in several important ways that will enable us to reach new and higher levels of excellence. We have added a number of new faculty, we more actively engage both undergraduates and graduate students in research, and we have focused our programs on our considerable strengths.

Anthropology faculty represent all four traditional subfields of the discipline (sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, and archaeology). We have particular geographic expertise in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America. Across these geographic areas, the department has programmatic emphases in the study of culture, resources, and power; medical anthropology; forensic anthropology and skeletal biology; and archaeology. The Department is also known for its emphasis on Great Lakes anthropology and archaeology. The faculty’s interests span traditional boundaries within the discipline to include the study of:

  • agriculture and the environment, including issues such as agricultural development and sustainable agriculture; the social, political, and health impacts of industrial agriculture; and the interactions between culture and the environment, as well as how such interactions have changed over time
  • social inequality and social institutions, including those inequalities associated with hierarchies in gender, race, ethnicity, age, and class, as well as corresponding differences in health status, the operation of international businesses, and how organizations develop and communicate a common culture. Increasingly, faculty and students are studying how these inequalities translate into human rights issues.
  • public policy and cultural impact assessment, including cultural resource management in archaeology, ethics and anthropology, and studies of the impact of public policies on living people. This obviously relates to the above topic in important ways.
  • systems of communication and meaning, including the study of how people create, transmit, and sustain a common culture, and the meaning that it has for them
  • health and legal issues, involving anthropological perspectives on health, medical systems, and their interactions with social and environmental changes. The intersection of anthropology with legal issues also involves study of business and public policy, and includes forensic anthropology.

Many of the Department’s faculty focus on policy-relevant research addressing a variety of social problems. Faculty work collaboratively with communities wherever they conduct research, and we train our students to understand the importance of such collaborative efforts. MSU Anthropology alumni work not only in academia and museums, but also for local and national governments, non-governmental organizations, and international businesses.