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Anthropology and Museum Studies

College of the Sciences
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Dean Hall
Phone: (509) 963-3201

Welcome to Anthropology and Museum Studies

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human based on an integrated approach to  biological, cultural, material and linguistic capacities.  Anthropologists study culture and cultural diversity in all of its past and present manifestations.

Students may pursue classroom, laboratory, and field studies in sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.  Students are not expected to concentrate in a particular sub-field, but may decide to do so as their interests develop.  The Anthropology major is designed to prepare students for entry level work in areas that require understanding of cultural difference and diversity and for graduate study at the Master's level.

The Museum Studies program is a minor within the Anthropology Department that is open to all students and includes internship opportunities at the Museum of Culture and Environment and elsewhere. 

Central Washington Anthropological Survey (CWAS) is a service and research facility associated with the Department, conducts archaeological research in the central counties of the state and the greater Northwest, and promotes public involvement in the protection of local archaeological resources.  It provides students with opportunities for hands-on experience in contract archaeology.

Anthropology Student Association sponsors academic and social events generated by students' interests, such as conference participation, preparation for graduate school, professional presentations, and visits to museum exhibitions, archaeological sites and film screenings.

Classes at the 100 level within Anthropology include a general survey of the field (107) and major sub-fields. 300-level classes focus on selected sub-fields in Anthropology; upper division standing or relevant lower division anthropology courses are desirable.  400-level classes are directed to students with previous background in Anthropology.  With the exception of variable-credit classes (490, 491, 496, 498), other 400-level classes assume completion of at least three introductory level classes (ANTH 110, 120, 130 or 180), plus 15 credits in Anthropology or permission of the instructor.

Regular advisement is important for Anthropology majors.  Consultation with an assigned advisor is especially important for transfer students and those wishing to integrate intensive experiences such as study abroad, field schools, and special projects (e.g., honors) into their major program.  All majors must fill out a major application form (available in the Department office) and meet with the department chair, who will consult with the student to assign an appropriate advisor.  The student should meet at least quarterly with his or her advisor to design an effective and efficient program based on the student's interests and goals.

Departmental Honors

The honors program is designed to facilitate individualized research and study in a sub-area of Anthropology.  It is open to junior and senior students; honors students are eligible to graduate "with honors in Anthropology."  Programs of study must be developed in consultation with an advisor and approved by Department faculty.  Normally such programs include at least 10 credits of directed individual study for the honors thesis, as well as focused research in connection with regular departmental coursework.  Further information on the program is available from the Department Chair.

Mission Statement


We educate people about cultural and biological diversity of humans in all places and at all times. We do this as a department by:

  • developing a holistic understanding of human issues through the theories and methods of cultural, linguistic, archaeological and biological anthropology;
  • fostering student learning in small-scale and individualized settings with respect for different points of view; providing opportunities for student-faculty interaction in research, fieldwork, and teaching assistant experience;
  • building interdisciplinary relationships that express the multidisciplinary scope of anthropology;
  • engaging in research and scholarly activities and sharing results with peers, students and the public;
  • offering public services that link research and teaching with the needs and interests of local, state and regional communities.

Message of Solidarity: All Black Lives Matter

The Anthropology Committee of the Whole stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and reaffirms its commitments to Black students, faculty, staff, communities of color, diverse genders, and sexual orientations more broadly. We are deeply saddened and angered by the ongoing practices of police brutality and anti-Black racism in the US and around the world. We strongly and unequivocally condemn the murders of Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Joshua Brown, Justin Howell, Sean Monterrosa, Jamel Floyd, Collins Khosa, Eden Armando Babari, Ronny Wandikand and so many sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. We mourn with their families and join the multiplicity of voices calling for justice, freedom, and equality. 

Our support for the Black Lives Matter movement aligns with the first principle of our discipline, to do no harm. On the one hand, upholding this means acknowledging the complicity and complacency of anthropology in the production of racial typologies and global systems of social, political, and economic exploitation and oppression. On the other hand, it also means recognizing the contributions of Black, Indigenous, and anthropologists of color. It means building on this work and the work of allies to decolonize knowledge production and transform anthropology and the academy. 

This work begins at our own university, which sits on Native American lands. We acknowledge the academy is a hierarchical institution where anti-Blackness and discrimination can and do arise. We know that we must do better as a community of scholars to contextualize these inequities and facilitate sustained commitment, thoughtful collaboration, and purposeful actions. As anthropologists we take responsibility for applying the methods and approaches of the discipline to expose and challenge deeply embedded, global systems of white supremacy and racism. 

Now is a time to come together to plan a path forward. As faculty and staff, we are committed to working with our students and colleagues to develop a collaborative plan of action on campus and beyond. We stand firm in our resolve that all lives cannot matter until all Black lives matter. 

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