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Lyon College adds anthropology major

Lyon College recently approved the addition of an anthropology major, joining a small handful of Arkansas universities that offer the degree.

Provost Melissa Taverner said this move confirms that anthropology, the study of humanity and culture, is central to the College’s liberal arts mission.

“By moving this program of study to a full major, Lyon will provide a clear pathway for students interested in the discipline,” she said, “and will prepare them for numerous postgraduate opportunities in academe and in a variety of businesses and industries.”

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Matthew Lebrato said students with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology will be well-prepared for a host of careers. 

“The top five most common career fields for anthropology undergraduates are education, management, law, medicine and research,” Lebrato said.

Anthropology is distinctive among the liberal arts and social sciences for producing a much higher percentage of researchers and social scientists, museum curators and archivists and librarians.

Lebrato said numerous sources have noted an increased desire of corporations to hire anthropologists, such as Business Insider’s article “Here's Why Companies Are Desperate To Hire Anthropologists.”

“The training that anthropology undergraduates receive prepares them to analyze and present complex information to a host of audiences in the education, government, nonprofit and industry sectors,” Lebrato said.

The College’s curriculum currently provides an introductory overview of the four subfields of anthropology: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, biological anthropology and archaeology. Advanced courses introduce students to how anthropologists study contemporary phenomena, such as globalization, social justice, migration and more.

Lyon will hire a second anthropology faculty member to expand upper-level offerings to include biological anthropology and archaeology.

“The new faculty member will most likely start in fall 2022,” Lebrato said. “The ideal candidate will be an anthropologist who focuses on biological anthropology and archaeology.”

Future anthropology majors at Lyon can expect a strong foundation in the four-field approach, he said, coupled with the ability to work closely with faculty and specialize in their own interests. They will get hands-on training in ethnographic methods such as interviewing, surveying, participant observation and linguistic analysis through designing, carrying out and analyzing their own ethnographic research project

“We expect to offer similar training opportunities in archaeological excavation and analysis and biological and laboratory analysis,” Lebrato said.

Sophomore Vanessa Mohlke was drawn to the anthropology major because it gives her a greater understanding of the way humans act as a whole.

“From language, biology, archeology and culture, I have learned to appreciate how beautiful the world’s diversity is,” she said.

She was thrilled to hear that students can now major in anthropology at Lyon without designing their own major plan.

“I think there are a bunch of students at Lyon who would consider becoming an anthropology major if it were offered,” Mohlke said. “Next semester, I will be taking primarily anthro classes, and I’m excited to see what Dr. Lebrato will be doing with the major classes in the future!”