Message from our Chair and Vice Chairs

Professors Bigham, Throop, and Debenport

Professors Abigail Bigham (Undergraduate Vice Chair),
Jason Throop (Department Chair),
Erin Debenport (Graduate Vice Chair)

There has never been a better time to study anthropology — nor a better place to study it than UCLA. Examining the complexity of the human experience, past and present, our discipline encompasses the full sweep of the world’s cultures across time.

Anthropologists investigate such challenging questions as how humans evolved and came to adapt to diverse environments, what led to the rise of urban life, what causes disease and death, how people imbue their lives with meaning, and how language reflects and shapes social life. Anthropology seeks to draw back the curtain on humankind’s most vexing problems from intractable political conflicts to the human consequences of globalization. Anthropologists also study such contemporary issues as how the new media influences the ways we experience the world and how individuals and families balance the increasingly diverse demands in their lives.

UCLA’s Department of Anthropology honors the full breadth of the discipline. Our faculty and students conduct research in all parts of the globe including the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Many also work locally in Los Angeles, throughout California, and across the U.S.

Our undergraduate major offers tracks toward the B.A. and B.S. degree; a minor is also available. We also offer undergraduates a wide range of research opportunities including assisting with faculty and graduate student projects and developing research of their own design. In addition, we’re delighted to announce new undergraduate research opportunities through a generous gift from Professor Robert B. Lemelson for the establishment of the Lemelson Undergraduate Honors Program.

We are very proud of our doctoral program, recently ranked 6th in the nation by the National Council on Research. Graduate training involves coursework in all four subfields followed by specialization. Consistent with our aim to maintain active conversations across the subfields, the department supports weekly interdepartmental interest groups: Behavior, Evolution and Culture (BEC), Culture, Power, and Social Change (CPSC), the Discourse Lab (Ling Lab), and Mind, Medicine, and Culture (MMAC). Faculty and students are also active members of many of the interdisciplinary centers and programs across campus, notably the regional centers that make up the International Institute, including as Directors of the Center for Chinese Studies, the Center for India and South Asia (CISA), and the Center for Near East Studies (CNES), and the ethnic studies programs that comprise the Institute of American Cultures; the Cotsen Institute of Archeology; the Center for Society and Genetics; and the Center for the Study of Women. I’m also pleased to announce that the Department is now home to the newly expanded UCLA FPR-Center for Culture, Brain, Development and Mental Health.

Our faculty has earned international recognition including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Their work is supported by grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the W.T. Grant Foundation, among others. They have been honored with fellowships from all of the major foundations that support social science research including the MacArthur Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Max Planck Institute, as well as with a multitude of book prizes. Their teaching and mentoring have been rewarded with UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, many other campus teaching awards, and a host of national prizes.

For myself and my colleagues, I cordially invite you to discover the excellence of anthropological studies here at UCLA.

Jason Throop, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department