CCOG for ATH 103 archive revision 202004

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Effective Term:
Fall 2020

Course Number:
ATH 103
Course Title:
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Considers contemporary human cultures from an anthropological perspective. Covers fieldwork, language, race, gender, sex and marriage, kinship, politics, world view, religion, economics, and globalization from a cross-cultural perspective. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe and compare basic concepts, methods, and theories associated with cultural anthropology.
  2. Identify and compare values, beliefs, norms, economic systems, and social organization or institutions in a variety of societies in different world regions from an anthropological perspective.
  3. Discuss systems of power and social justice issues related to U.S. society and other cultures from an anthropological perspective.
  4. Demonstrate basic fieldwork methods and explore ethical considerations of doing anthropological fieldwork.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

General education philosophy statement

This course is a survey course that provides a broad and general introduction to the sub-field of cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology focuses on comparing and contrasting the cultural values, beliefs and norms, social institutions and economic and technological systems of different cultures around the world. Cultural anthropologists utilize fieldwork methods such as participant observation and employ concepts such as cultural relativism or ethnocentrism in order to describe and analyze cultural patterns and behaviors. This course covers topics such as language, marriage and sexuality, kinship, gender roles,spirituality and artistic expression, and culture change and globalization from a cross-cultural perspective. The course also examines systems of power such as colonialism, racism or patriarchy and explores ethical issues related to fieldwork.

By taking this course, students will develop critical and analytical skills by engaging in cross-cultural comparisons and analysis. They will also gain experience in intellectual problem solving by doing a brief field observation and expand their knowledge of anthropological concepts, theories and methods. Another important aspect of the course is the study of cultural relativism and ethnocentrism from an anthropological perspective. Students will also examine systems of power or ethical issues related to race, gender, and economic class and develop more cultural awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience.

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

 Course activities may include any of the following:

  • lecture
  • class demonstrations
  • small group work
  • viewing films or videos
  • guest speakers
  • community based learning
  • field observations and other projects
  • 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:

  • exams
  • quizzes
  • student presentations
  • 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.


  • 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
  • examine systems of power and social justice issues


  • cultural relativism
  • ethnocentrism
  • social justice
  • cross-cultural analysis
  • comparative method
  • globalization


  • 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  goals--e.g., subsistence, or shelter--are achieved)


  • read and write at the college level