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Press Release



April 30, 2009

Cowley College Social Science Department Offers Anthropology Degree


At the Social Science Department’s recent annual advisory meeting and dinner, faculty member Chris Mayer introduced the new Associate of Arts degree in anthropology.

“I’m very excited to present this degree” said Mayer.  “Cowley is now one of only three community colleges in Kansas that offer a fully-fledged anthropology degree.” 

Mayer added that there are several Cowley students who could graduate with the new degree as soon as the 2009 fall semester, with only a few additional courses.

Anthropology is a multidisciplinary, scientific study of the human condition. Through the traditional four fields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological/physical anthropology and linguistics, anthropologists examine every aspect of humanity in a holistic, comparative and evolutionary way. As a science, anthropology seeks to uncover and understand what makes groups of people different from each other, and what they all share in common.

With an Associate of Arts degree in anthropology from Cowley, students will be able to transfer into a Bachelor’s degree program from a 4-year college or university. Depending on specialization, anthropology majors can pursue careers in human resources, museums, government, forensic, military, advocacy and non-profit sectors, as well as research and teaching.

The Associate of Arts degree in anthropology is intended to provide graduates with a strong foundation in the traditional four-field approach of anthropology, with courses in cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological/physical anthropology and linguistics. Currently, introductory courses in all of these areas are offered at Cowley, except for the linguistics course, which is under development. Mayer intends to have that course on the schedule for the spring semester of 2010.

Cultural anthropology is concerned with the systems of human cultures. Archaeology seeks to understand cultures of the past, usually those with few or no written records, through material remains. Biological/physical anthropology focuses on humans as a biological species, studying origins, development and variations within the species. Linguistic anthropology studies human communication systems, which preserve and transmit cultures across generations.

Each anthropology course at Cowley College incorporates a basic fieldwork component, such as ethnographic interviews, archaeological surveys and digs, and primate behavior studies at area zoos. Anthropology majors at Cowley will also have the opportunity to intern at the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum.

Mayer plans to expand the program with a public archaeology program, also in cooperation with the museum.

“This would give anthropology students a direct connection with the community, and give them a chance to apply their studies in a way that would really benefit the public and support local cultural resources,” Mayer said.

Tentative plans call for the first meeting to be held in September, inviting everyone in the area who is interested in local history, archaeology and the work of the museum. Mayer also plans to offer travel and field school opportunities to anthropology majors. Long-term plans include a wider variety of specialty courses that might include such diverse topics such as Kansas archaeology, world music and primate behavior.

Anyone interested in the Associate of Arts degree in anthropology, and for more information about the program, should contact Chris Mayer in the Social Science Department at Cowley College, at 620-441-5229.