CCOG for ATH 160 Spring 2024

Course Number:
ATH 160
Course Title:
Comparative Cultures
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Compares cultures from different ethnographic areas such as Asia, Africa, India, Australia, Europe or the Americas. Introduces anthropological theories and methods of inquiry for comparative cultural analysis, including gender, political, historical, ethnographic and indigenous narratives and cross-cultural perspectives. Explores the characteristics of different cultures in major world areas and their development over time. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe and compare the cultures of different world regions.
  2. Examine systems of power and social justice issues in different societies in the world from a cross-cultural and anthropological perspective.
  3. Apply anthropological concepts to understand the formation of social values and personal or cultural identity.
  4. Identify and compare one or more cultural topics, such as values, norms, world views, gender, race and ethnicity, music, mythology, folklore, religion, marriage, kinship, politics and economics among various cultures around the world.

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 complements information taught in introductory anthropology classes and focuses on comparing cultural features of three or more societies from an anthropological perspective. Topics discussed may include comparisons of world views and values, art, folklore and storytelling, spirituality, social organization or social institutions, gender roles political systems, economic practices or the use of technology. By taking this course, students will develop critical and analytical skills by engaging in cross-cultural analysis. They will also gain experience utilizing anthropological concepts, theories and methods. Another important aspect of the course is studying and comparing aspects of the ideology, social organization, economic systems and technology of societies from different world regions. Students will also examine systems of power or ethical issues related to race, gender, and identity and develop more cultural awareness and appreciation for the diversity of human thought and experience.

Aspirational Goals

Students will critically reflect on their own cutlural values and experiences and compare them with those of individuals in other cultures and communities in order to gain greater cultural sensitivity and appreciation for cultural diversity in their daily lives.  Students will engage in community-based learning,  participant-observation, narrative construction and deconstruction, cultural systems analysis, interviewing, surveying or other educational activities or assignments as part of doing cross-cultural analysis. Students will utilize scientific, primary, legislative and other sources of information and anthropological theories and methods of inquiry to compare different cultures.

Course Activities and Design

Course Activities may include all or any of the following:

  • community-based learning
  • class discussion
  • small group discussion
  • group projects
  • interdisciplinary collaboration
  • peer review
  • lectures
  • presentations
  • online discussion forums and posts
  • guest speakers
  • participant-observation or other anthropological field methods
  • guest speakers
  • events

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any or all of the following:

  • quizzes
  • exams
  • short papers
  • field project papers
  • presentations
  • research papers

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Course Content: Compares the ideological, historical, economic and political systems of cultures in different world regions.


  • cross-cultural analysis
  • comparison of cultures in different world regions in social context
  • examine social issues and power structures influencing the origin, development or maintenance of social institutions influencing the formation of group, gender or personal and cultural identity


  • culture
  • enculturation
  • ethnocentrism
  • ideology
  • social organization
  • economic systems
  • technology