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  • About Anthropology & Earth Science

Anthropology & Earth Science

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  • About Anthropology & Earth Science

    The Department of Anthropology and Earth Science offers two major programs, Anthropology and Geosciences. These programs integrate the studies of humans and the earth.

    Anthropologists study people from all around the world and from different time periods.  Their studies encompass such a vast range of human variety and societies that anthropologists typically divide their field into subfields, such as cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology, and archaeology. MSUM’s Anthropology program stresses a broad background in the field. Students move from introductory courses to more advanced study in one of the two subfields: cultural anthropology and archaeology.

    Geosciences study the processes that shape the Earth and other planets, Earth’s ancient past, natural resources and environment, and the nature of human cultures and how those cultures vary with place and time. We also examine what earth materials reveal about past human occupation. Geosciences offer a Bachelor of Science degree with four emphases: Geology; Geoarchaeology; Geographical Science; and Earth Science Teaching.


    Anthropology is the study of humans. It is the global study of people today and of people in the past. The Anthropology Program at MSUM offers courses in all subfields of anthropology with emphasis in archaeology and cultural anthropology.

    Archaeology is the study of past cultures through the examination of material remains left in the ground. It involves the excavation of archaeological sites and analysis of artifacts, ecofacts, and features, and provides a “deep history” for humanity extending back through 2.5 million years of time.

    Cultural Anthropology is concerned with the study of human culture—the learned, shared ways of life of people. Cultural anthropologists are interested in the study of culture in both western and non-western, industrialized and non-industrialized  societies, and in the interrelationships among environmental adaptations, sociopolitical organizations, and belief systems.


    The Geosciences Major provides students with an opportunity to understand the Earth, including processes that have shaped its past and those that will shape its future, and the relationships among place, landscape, climate, culture, economy, and people.  Students can choose one of three emphases:  Geology, Geoarchaeology, or Geographical Science. A minor in Geosciences is also offered.

    Geology is for those students interested in understanding how the Earth works presently and what has happened in Earth's ancient past.    Students who choose this track will learn especially about our environment and its processes, stories of Earth's past, and the formation and extraction of natural resources of the Earth.

    Geoarchaeology is for those students interested in understanding what geological evidence and reasoning reveal about past human cultures and activities on Earth.  Students who choose this track will learn especially about the geological, chemical, biological, and physical methods for interpreting artifacts, sediments, and environments important in understanding our human past.

    Geographical Science is for those students interested in understanding the relationships among place, people, and environment.  Students who choose this track will learn especially about the distribution of climate, cultures, and landscapes on Earth, the reason for those distributions, and the way that these interact and effect humans and our economies.

    The Earth Science Teaching major is for those students interested in teaching earth science in grades 9-12, and meets the requirements for licensure in Science (grades 5-8).  Our Earth Science teaching program is particularly strong in providing in-depth coverage of the wide range of Earth Science subjects needed for Minnesota licensure, including Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy and Planetary Science, Oceanography, and Interaction of People with the Land.