About Our Department
How, when, and where did human life arise, how have environmental conditions and social institutions shaped human society, what is the role of learned versus innate behavior, and how are humans adapting to rapidly changing contexts? These, among many, are the sorts of questions anthropologists ask. Anthropology, the appreciation of and commitment to understanding all aspects of human diversity past and present, is devoted to the proposition that the diversity among humankind is comprehensible and enriching. In today’s global era, Anthropology is increasingly relevant as we seek to explore and explain differences and similarities among the world's cultures. Research, teaching, and service are the foundations of anthropology at Washington University.
Excellence in teaching and attention to undergraduates is a hallmark of the Anthropology Department. The department offers a major and minor in anthropology, as well as optional global health and environment tracks. Our department enjoys a strong sense of community among students and faculty. We provide a diverse array of vibrant, intellectually challenging courses for undergraduates and graduates and hands-on advising. Students find that our program provides one of the most flexible and well-rounded undergraduate majors in the liberal arts, and that it is an unrivaled preparation for professional study (law, business, medicine) and a springboard to careers in wide ranging fields.
Lois Beck Quoted in June 2021 Issue of Smithsonian Magazine
“Most nomads and former nomads in Iran are deeply attached to their traditional territories,” says Lois Beck, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert on Iran’s nomadic tribes. “Each of these groups has an intense sense of solidarity, and they are aware that they are a minority in Iran, and are often marginalized and repressed. And so they’re interested in keeping who they are and passing what they are to the next generation, and the seasonal migration is part of that. If you asked a Bakhtiari at random, what’s the most important thing about his culture? He would probably say: ‘Migration.’”Read more
2021 Anthropology Graduation Ceremony
Washington University's Department of Anthropology has a strong reputation for scholarly excellence. Faculty and students conduct research around the world, and we reach across time from the Oligocene to the present. Our research strengths are enhanced by the department’s commitment to training students in the history and foundations of anthropological theory.Find out more about our research