Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ATH 207
Course Title:
Cultural Anthropology: Culture Concepts
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Examines different schools of anthropological thought and the concept of culture from a historical perspective. Emphasis placed upon the importance of culture in explaining similarities and differences in our evolving world system. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course will examine the lives, field work experiences and anthropological theories of pioneering anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Julian Steward, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Marvin Harris and Clifford Geertz, Major theories examined include cultural evolution, historical anthropology, culture and personality, cultural ecology, interpretive anthropology, post-modernism and globalism.. To be successful, students should be able to read and write at the college level.

Intended Outcomes for the course

1. Trace the history and development of anthropological thought and theory.

2. Master more advanced concepts in cultural anathropology.

3. Critically analyze the roles ideology, social organization, technology and ecnomics  play in c ultural desvelopment and change at the local or global level.

4. Reflect on how culture shapes personal and social values at the local and global level.

Aspirational Goals

  • Prepare students for upper division course work in anthropology
  • Increase cultural awareness and appreciation of other societies
  • Contribute to internationalization efforts across the curriculum

Course Activities and Design

This course is taught online as well in a traditional classroom setting.  Course activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • small group discussions or exercises
  • lectures
  • speed culturing or other events
  • online discussion forums
  • participant-observation exercises
  • collection of life histories
  • ethnographic film viewing and analysis

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include  but are not limited to any of the following:

  • exams
  • quizzes
  • student presentations
  • short papers
  • term papers
  • research projects

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • culture as a concept that changes over time
  • the history and development of different anthropological theories
  • highlight the lives and ethnographic research of pioneering anthropologist


  • controversies within anthropology
  • effect of enculturation on personality development
  • analysis of anthropological methods
  • ethical issues in ethnography


  • cultural evolution
  • cultural relativism
  • cultural ecology
  • culture and personality


  • read and write at the college level
  • participate in class discussion and group work
  • discuss various anthropological theories
  • understand the concept of culture

Instructional Goals and Objectives:
The instructor will teach in accordance with the goals and objectives listed in this Course Content Guide. The Course Content Guides are developed by college-wide subject area faculty and are approved by the administration.
Instructional Goal:
The study of culture as a historical concept in anthropology gives students an opportunity to understand how the discipline developed as a science.  It also highlights the various debates that have occurred or are still occurring among scholars. This process challenges students to develop their critical reasoning and problem solving skills by evaluating the merits and pitfalls of various theories.
1. Define and understand the concept of culture from a historical perspective.

2. Compare and contrast several anthropological theories and concepts such as:
    19th century evolution
    historical anthropology
    diffusion, cultural relativism
    culture and personality
    functionalism and structural functionalism
    cultural ecology, postmodernism, globalism
    symbolic and interpretive anthropology

3. Develop critical reasoning skills and cultural awareness in students.

Text::  Anthropological Theory 5th edition by McGee and Warms or another comparable text which may include a collection of original articles written by a variety of important anthropologists and or biographical and other background data.