Anthropology program to move, offer new learning opportunities

The anthropology department’s move to Scharbauer Hall next academic year is one of several changes to the department, which is looking to expand after a year of setbacks, professors in the department said.

Miguel Leatham, lecturer and department director, said the department hired professor Dave Aftandilian from the University of Chicago in August, expanding a faculty team that was depleted in 2006 when three anthropology professors left in the span of a year.

Now with a full team of professors, the anthropology program is looking to expand, Leatham said.

“Our problem is our lack of visibility,” Leatham said. “We are an expanding program, and I only see growth for us. I don’t think we will have a lack of interest among students.”

Leatham said the department enables students to be involved in other ethnographic and archeological field work in various places such as New Mexico, Greece and Rome through campus programs.

However, the anthropology program no longer operates a field school, but in the long run the department hopes to operate its own program again, Leatham said.

When the AddRan College moves to Scharbauer Hall, the anthropology department will have a new lab with microscopes, skulls and artifacts for students to work with, Aftandilian said.

One of the main studies in the anthropology and archaeology labs will be human osteology, the study of bones, to determine age, sex growth and development, Aftandilian said. Although the bones are not real, the reproductions will be useful to students, he said.

Three new courses will be offered in the spring: Environmental Justice, Human Rights and Agriculture; Anthropological Approaches to Nature; and the Sacred and Transnational Processes, Leatham said. Each year more courses will be added to the curriculum, he said.

In addition, the TCU Anthropological Society, which was on hiatus, is making a comeback, Leatham said. The society did not have officers last academic year, but officers have been named this year, and the group is now planning field trips and service activities as well as starting a film series in the spring, he said.

Leatham said that the department hopes to start the chapter of Lambda Alpha, the national collegiate honors society for anthropology students, by next school year.

Anthropology is about how people interact with each other, Aftandilian said, and anthropology majors can help people in the corporate world work better together, because they will have an increased understanding of people, he said.

“Teaching students how to appreciate the similarities and differences of people provide for a richer experience of the world,” Aftandilian said.

Leatham said anthropology’s connection with other departments, such as history, religion and English, allow students to combine different viewpoints about the subject.

“The programs dove-tail off each other and work nicely together when applying real world work,” he said.