Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Broaden your horizons with anthropology

Samantha Ratner

Going into my first semester of college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study. One of the courses I took was Intro to Cultural Anthropology — a topic I had never been exposed to before. From that course, I gained a new perspective on cultural subjects like social class, race and human relationships. 

By examining culture and society from an anthropological context, students can apply the critical thinking skills from anthropology courses to any degree.

Students in anthropology gain an understanding of human relationships using cultural and scientific lenses. For communities to progress, we need more people who understand how societies are structured so change can be efficient and effective. Without this understanding, science and technology become difficult to implement in spite of new advances. 

The ability to observe social systems and recognize improvements is vital for students to create impact with their degrees.

Anthropology professor Ward Keeler explained that anthropology can help address social issues.

“There’s plenty of food, the problem is distribution,” Keeler said. “Why is distribution such a problem? Because we don’t know how to make an equitable distribution. So, we need to look at human affairs and social relations to see where the obstacles are and where the road bumps are.”

Social sciences like anthropology are vital to a well-rounded education because they allow undergraduates to apply their studies to a wider variety of situations and fields. Being too focused on one field of study can limit students’ abilities to implement what they learn into the context of society. Expanding one’s level of exposure to new cultures and ways of thought through anthropology can impart a new way to approach their studies.

Some students, especially those pursuing pre-professional studies, may feel that liberal arts courses like anthropology will not benefit them in the short-term. Although students may choose to only pursue degrees and classes that they think benefit themselves right out of college, social sciences can equip students with the tools to succeed in any field.

Advertising senior Bradley Martin said that taking an anthropology class has given him insight into anthropology’s connections to his major. 

“When you’re making an advertisement, specifically, if you make one talk just from your point of view and your opinion, you’re neglecting a number of other cultures and other people who could connect with that ad or that brand that you’re being paid to make an advertisement for,” Martin said. “I think it’s really valuable to have multiple perspectives.”

Neglecting any aspect of education leads to gaps in knowledge, and anthropology is no exception. Preserving and improving society cannot purely be achieved through hard sciences. By broadening their horizons with anthropology, students can take the knowledge they acquire and better integrate it into society. 

Henneke is an anthropology sophomore from Austin, Texas.

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