Happy World Anthropology Day!!!!!

Today is a day to celebrate one amazing discipline that brings us all together: anthropology! Many of you reading this are likely involved with anthropology in some way, and we are connected through our appreciation (or, in cases like my own, deep profound love) for social sciences. Most of us can also bond over our shared experiences of being asked “Why the heck would you study that?” or “What on earth can you do with a degree/minor/significant interest in anthropology?” The answers are not always obvious even to us as anthropologists or anthro-enthusiasts; but allow me to give an attempt:

  • I am studying anthropology because it is awesome, applicable, interdisciplinary, and overall so important. One of the many reasons I love anthropology is because it makes the world safe for cultural differences and allows us to explore the human condition. If you want to study the history of culture and people, anthropology can give you that. If you want to examine current cultural spaces, anthropology can also give you that. If you want to understand how we became the way we are, whether you are more interested in why we walk on two legs or how we perceive the origins of the universe, anthropology can give you that as well. In short, anthropology can give you anything as long as you put in the effort it deserves.
  • Honestly, a degree in anthropology can take you anywhere! Broadly, anthropology gives you the skill set to think critically, keep an open mind, search for the truth but question everything, engage in quantitative and qualitative research, speak another language, and so much more. You do not have to go into a career with “anthropology” or “anthropologist” in the title for your anthropology degree to be useful and relevant. This article highlights a couple dozen well-known people who studied anthropology. On the list you’ll see actors, tv show hosts, authors, CEOs, senators and congresspeople, and computer scientists! Anthropology is the best major for changing your life and changing the world [even if it can be (incorrectly) viewed by some as “the worst major for your career”]!

However, anthropology is not perfect — nothing is. This field has taken as much criticism as the day is long, some may be warranted and some may not. But we accept this criticism with open arms as we seek to always improve and get better. Finding and addressing our weak points makes us stronger.

If you want to participate in something anthropological today or this weekend, the American Association of Anthropologists has listings of events and activities here. You can also take a more individual, personal approach by writing your very own anthropology love letter. But no matter what you decide to do, I implore you to at least take a moment and reflect on what anthropology means to you. Why are you drawn to it (other than its general overarching awesomeness)? How much of an affect has it had on your life? How has anthropology changed the way you view and interact with the world?