Anthropology

History of the U of A Department of Anthropology

Anthropology Department History

The teaching of anthropology was introduced to the U of A in the late 1950s within the Department of Philosophy and Psychology. In 1963 the joint Department of Sociology and Anthropology was established with 3 anthropologists; Charles Brandt, Alan Bryan and Ruth Gruhn.

The Department of Anthropology was constituted as a separate entity when it became independent from the Department of Sociology on August 1st, 1966. At the time, it was the only department between BC and Ontario that offered a program based on the four branches of the discipline as traditionally defined on this continent. Since its opening in November, 1966, the H M Tory Building has been the permanent home to the department. See more facilities history. The department has always supported various collections and labs to facilitate its teaching and research.  From the beginning the department has offered unique educational opportunities off campus in the summer, many in the form of Fieldschools.

In 1966 the Department consisted of 7 Faculty, 1 Staff, 6 honours students and 14 in the MA program. A PhD program was started a year later. In 1966-67 there were 17 courses taught with a total enrollment of 748. Today there are 16 full-time Faculty with a total of 42 academics associated with the department. There are 6 administrative and 2 technical Staff. The PhD program had 31 PhD's and MA students numbered 18 in the 2014-15 academic year. Anthropology undergraduate majors and minors total 293 with 8 in honours. In 2014-15 there were 83 courses taught for a total enrollment of 2166 students.  Our people (students, staff, faculty, and friends) are the heart of our department.

The department has continued to base their research and teaching programs on the four anthropology subfields: Bio-Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistic Anthropology. This approach gives students a chance to not only specialize in their own area of interest but to look at all dimensions of the human experience, and provides researchers exceptional and unique collaboration opportunities across subdisciplinary fields. We tell the “story of the human story” within a supportive and integrated unit with enthusiasm that transcends subfield boundaries.