Anthropology Added to Alma's List of Majors
Due to strong interest from students, Alma College has added anthropology to its expanding list of majors.
Mary Theresa Bonhage-Freund, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, says anthropology has long been a popular "program of emphasis" (POE), which is an academic option for students who choose to create an interdisciplinary focused concentration beyond traditional majors. She wasn’t surprised when a student signed up to major in anthropology on the first day that students could do so.
“This term, we had to add another section of the introductory anthropology course because there was a waiting list for it,” she says. “With this kind of student demand, adding anthropology to Alma’s majors makes a lot of sense.”
Mary Theresa Bonhage-Freund
Bonhage-Freund says the skill set that students develop as a result of studying anthropology is in high demand, ensuring that they can explore career possibilities in a wide variety of fields.
“From archaeology to linguistics, anthropology is a discipline that touches on everything in the liberal arts,” she says. “Students are exposed to tools that help them become lifelong learners. They see connections where other people might not. I think that’s what is so appealing about anthropology.”
Clinton Township sophomore Shalyn Stack, one of the first anthropology majors, chose to major in it because it’s “the combination of many majors in one.” She says she is able to study ancient cultures without having to major in history.
“Anthropology has helped shape me into an open-minded observer,” she says. “It also has made me understand how special the world is for having such a variety of cultures and ways of life in it. It’s a great major.”
The option to major in anthropology also gives Alma students like Stack more flexibility in their academic studies. The anthropology POE, which Bonhage-Freund says students sometimes see as an intimidating process, requires 56 credits while the major requires only 36.
“I have more time and space in my schedule, making it so I can not only obtain my major in anthropology, but also possibly have an emphasis in it,” says Stack. “I’m really interested in ethnobotany. Now, I can pursue it.”
In addition to giving students the opportunity to insert their personal interests into their studies, Bonhage-Freund says the new anthropology major allows for peer review. Rather than students completing an independent study, a required research seminar will bring them together to apply what they’ve learned.
“I’m very pleased with this development,“ she says. “An anthropology major is a good service to the students, as it allows them to graduate on time. It’s also recognition of the good work of everyone in the sociology and anthropology department, especially Catherine Fobes, who worked closely with me on this.”
Alma College now offers 34 academic majors. In addition to anthropology, the College has added biotechnology, environmental studies, health care administration, and new media studies as new majors over the last two years.
Posted: Wed, January 18th, 2012 at 5:13PM