Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ATH 103
Course Title:
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Credit Hours:
4
Lecture Hours:
40
Lecture/Lab Hours:
0
Lab Hours:
0
Special Fee:
 

Course Description

Examines modern human cultures. Analyzes a variety of ethnographic examples from various world societies to understand the diverse aspects of language, technology, economy, social structure, governance, religion, world views and expressive aspects of life. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

In exploring differing cultures found around the globe this course focuses closely upon at least two unique cultures, with extended discussion of additional cultures and societies as appropriate.  Greater understanding of particular cultures will be achieved through an application of the comparative method.  Students, additionally, will be expected to read and write at the college level.

Intended Outcomes for the course

1.  Master basic concepts in cultural anthropology in order to prepare for more advanced course work.

2. Reflect on how personal and social values are shaped by culture.

3. Examine the role ethnocentrism plays in promoting cultural misunderstanding and intolerance at the local and global level.

Aspirational Goals

Over the past one hundred years anthropology has moved beyond the colonialist tendency to "study" other cultures, and seeks a deeper understanding of the patterns of behavior associated with differing cultural contexts.  At times the aim of this inquiry transcends "understanding" itself, striving for enhanced appreciation of differing human attitudes, perceptions, and modes of being.  The latter implies an attempt not only to understand, but also to comprehend and learn; in this task we hope to embrace the range of human potential immanent in cultures around the globe. 

Course Activities and Design

This course is offered both on campus and as a DL class. Course activities may include any of the following:

  • lecture
  • class demonstrations
  • small group work
  • viewing films or videos
  • guest speakers
  • group discussions (either formalized "in-class" discussion topics, impromptu "in-class" discussions, or D2L "discussion forums")

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any of the following, determined by the Instructor:

  • exams
  • quizzes
  • student presentation
  • experiential exercises
  • term papers
  • short papers or reports

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Course content will be based upon a combination of different themes, issues, concepts, and skills relevant to cultural anthropology and based on the following topical lists.

Themes:

  • engage in cross cultural comparison
  • learn about fieldwork methods
  • compare different cultural ideologies (values, norms, world view, cosmology)
  • compare different cultural institutions (politics, marriage, kinship, gender roles)
  • compare different cultural economic and technological systems
  • recognize ethnocentrism
  • recognize "naïve realism"
  • examine the process of culture change
  • compare patterns of enculturation

Issues:

  • cultural relativism
  • ethnocentrism
  • naïve realism
  • globalization

Concepts:

  • cultural adaptation  (the ways in which culture, or cultural systems, confer survivability)
  • cultural institutions  (routinely-practiced behavior systems, or modes of sociocultural interaction)
  • world view  (one's culturally-defined way of seeing things, or "cultural ethos")
  • kinship  (one's culture-specific method of classifying "kin"--both "blood kin" as well as "marital kin")
  • marriage  (one's culturally-acceptable method of establishing formalized spousal bonds)
  • politics  (the culturally-established negotiation of power through decision-making, whether through formal governmental institutions and statuses, or informally, through day-to-day social interactions)
  • economics  (the mechanism of social exchange, undertaken either between individuals or groups of individuals, and for a variety of culturally-designated goals or rationales)
  • technology  (the instrumental tools, methods, or practices by means of which specific aspirational goals--e.g., subsistence, or shelter--are achieved)

Skills:

  • read and write at the college level
  • research anthropological topics
  • identify the basic components of culture
  • understand the concept of culture
  • reflect on one's own cultural values and compare them to others