UO Teaching Philosophy

As an anthropologist, my primary educational goal is to help students develop a critical understanding of the past and present diversity of the cultural world.  With the twin objectives of building general intellectual skills and conveying disciplinary knowledge, I find it important to not only teach what we know as scholars, but also how we learned that information.


Current Courses

Syllabi available at the UO Anthropology Department website.

ANTH 150: World Archaeology
This course is an introduction to archaeology and the study of world prehistory. The primary objectives of archaeology are to 1) study cultural history, 2) reconstruct past human lifeways, 3) explore prehistoric human behavioral variability, and 4) explain the cultural developments evident in the archaeological record. The course covers the fundamental principles of archaeology and provides an overview of human prehistory from the earliest times up to the development of literate civilizations. The approach will be problem oriented as we will explore key archaeological questions under debate. What were early hunter-gatherer lifeways like? Why did humans in certain parts of the world adopt agriculture? What were the first cities like and why did they develop? What ultimately lead to the development of complex “state-level” societies? Explaining why cultural developments occurred is often hotly debated among archaeologists and different perspectives will be explored critically throughout this course.
Satisfies Social Science Group and International Cultures General Education Requirements

ANTH 260: Archaeology of Domestic Animals
The domestication of animals transformed human relationships with their environment. The individual trajectories and timing of domestication for specific animals were diverse, as were the purposes, whether for food production, clothing, transportation, prestige, and friendship. The effects of these animals on economy, politics, religion, and social organization have been far-reaching. In anthropology, we recognize that the inclusion of domestic animals into human societies was a cultural process based upon a variety of potentials, needs, or desires from place to place and time to time. The roots of this process lie in the diverse and innovative human economic strategies of the late Pleistocene. An exploration of the archaeological, linguistic, ethnological and biological evidence for variability in animal uses over time, space, and species will provide a baseline understanding from which to discuss larger anthropological issues.
Satisfies Science Group General Education Requirement

ANTH 342: Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East
The archaeological sequences of Near Eastern and Egyptian civilizations are some of the best known in the world, and their study has contributed heavily to the development of both the methods and theory of archaeology as a discipline. In this course, we will explore the roots of both developmental trajectories, from the origins of agriculture and emergence of village communities, to the rise of states and empires. In so doing, we will study topics such as the origins of writing, elaboration of temple complexes, the history and use of pyramids and beliefs of the afterlife, and the development of ancient cities. Students will gain a basic understanding of the life of ordinary people and elites in these two regions over the past 12,000 years.
Satisfies Social Science Group and International Cultures General Education Requirements

ANTH 453/553: African Archaeology
Modern Africa is home to an extraordinary diversity of peoples and cultures. In this class, we explore the foundations, development, and fluorescence of African societies, with a primary focus on the last 15,000 years. We will cover topics including the adoption of agricultural lifeways; the origins of village communities; Saharan and Indian Ocean trading networks; the unique political structures of African states and empires; the development of prehistoric democracies; and the impacts of the slave trade on African societies.

ANTH 410/510: Social Contracts
Western political philosophy has long debated whether rulers lead by consent of the populace, or rather take power from them. During the enlightenment, a variety of theories were advanced regarding the nature and practice of social contracts, primarily concerning state-level societies, but also addressing issues of egalitarianism and the origins of institutionalized inequalities. This course explores social contract theory within anthropological research, and how it has influenced analyses of the domestic group, communities, and polities in western and non-western societies.

ANTH 471/571: Zooarchaeology
Zooarchaeology is the study of animal remains for the purpose of reconstructing myriad elements of past societies, including subsistence, environments, rituals and religion, and human effects on/effects by the animal world. In so doing, zooarchaeologists must be able to identify and quantify diverse animal remains, and also understand the archaeological contexts from which they are derived. In this class we will obtain a basic understanding of the theory and methods of zooarchaeology including hands-on experience in the identification of major classes of animal life.
Prerequisite: ANTH 145 or ANTH 150

ANTH 606: Seminar in Political Anthropology
This seminar examines past and current approaches to political anthropology, drawing from multiple subfields and covering a wide range of topics.

ANTH 610: Space, Time, and Belonging
Recent research in archaeology and cultural anthropology has increasingly examined philosophies of being (ontologies) to understand the ways in which people categorize and experience the world. In so doing, scholars have made advances in our knowledge of the complexities of human-human, human-time, human-thing, human-place, and human-living entity relations. With the inherent focus of archaeology on temporalities and the growing interest of cultural anthropology in history, scholars have developed new approaches to examine short and long-term histories and/or to understand how histories shape present events. This course examines the recent theoretical literature, emphasizing how it can be employed in or applied to research topics in archaeology and cultural anthropology.

ANTH 681: Archaeology and Anthropology
This course provides a general graduate level introduction to anthropological archaeology. Focusing on the complex nature of interpreting the past through the archaeological record, our discussions and readings will span diverse theoretical frameworks, methodological practices and innovations and changing concerns. In so doing, students will obtain a general framework for understanding archaeological research in different eras and parts of the world, and learn about the complex and dynamic relationships between archaeology and the other anthropological subfields.
Core requirement for graduate program in Anthropology.