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Whether you are a graduate or you are simply curious there has never been a better time to think of doing an undergraduate degree in anthropology! Despite popular misconceptions that anthropologists work primarily with dinosaur bones- which is in fact what Palaeontologists do - they are in fact beginning to make way into the 21st century as leading contributors in various fields. Anthropology is in fact broken into five sub-categories. They are: Linguistics, Archaeology, Medical Anthropology, Physical Anthropology and Social & Cultural Anthropology. Each section has branched off into its own discipline over the course of the last century allowing for individuals to specialise in either field. Each field is quite specific and depending on whether your career aspirations involve forensics, medicine and nursing, media, social work, social/special care, tourism, business, management, museums, law or education an undergraduate degree in sociology and 3anthropology can provide you with the skills necessary to make any career a successful one.
Tools of the Trade
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Tried and tested, many of the skills that are developed within an academic career in anthropology are often familiar to the novice. Here are just some of the skills that are useful when deciding to enter any of the above mentioned disciplines.
- Social Agility - Observing, planning and successfully navigating social situations to allow for productive and meaningful interchange between individuals or groups.
- Observation - Learning how to interview and observe as a participant within any given culture. Keep in mind that the term culture itself encompasses many different notions such as corporate culture, societal culture, sports culture, etc...
- Social Sensitivity - Understanding and learning appropriate ways of preparing and caring for service users.
- Simplification of Information - Speaking in layman's terms to help service users feel adequately prepared to work on a problem as opposed to feeling alienated due to technical jargon.
- Problem Solving - Learning to approach problems from a culturally sensitive stance to ensure maximum effectiveness when communicating with service users.
- Persuasive Writing - Representing one group to another in such a way that allows for understanding of each other to occur. Acting as an interpreter or mediator through written argument is an effective means to help bridge cultural misunderstandings.
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Anthropology has enjoyed wider recognition over the course of the last decade. This can be attributed to globalization and the rise of multiculturalism in nearly every part of the world. Whatever your career aspirations a degree in sociology and anthropology to supplement your existing qualifications or perhaps even just a course or two will help you understand and navigate within a continuously growing complex web of different nationalities, religions, beliefs and values.
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There are several books available to many of you who are thinking of pursuing a course or degree in anthropology. Many of them are available at your local libraries or book stores. Check with your academic advisors or guidance counselors about meeting with department faculty at a university close to you. The world is becoming smaller each day and with it a need to understanding one another has never been greater. So the next time someone, be it a friend, family member or even college professor tells you that a degree in sociology and anthropology is useless, take it with a grain of salt and be happy that you know better!
Omohundro, John T. (1998) Careers in Anthropology. Mayfield Publishing Company. CA, U.S.A.
Nota Bene: The above article was originally published in 2007 through Suite 101.com now known as Suite.io.
Corbin, M.R.J. (May 24, 2007), Why Choose Anthropology? Skills and Attributes for the 21st Century. In Anthropology. Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd. Suite101.com. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.