Spring 2019 Introduction to Anthropology Syllabus

Intro to Anthropology (ANTH 1101-001)

UNC Charlotte, Spring 2019

Mon/Wed/Fri (10:10-11:00am) in Rowe 161

Instructor: Adam Johnson Office Hours: M/W 12:30-1:30pm
ajohn344@uncc.edu by appointment in Barnard 244A

This syllabus contains policies and expectations I have established for this course. Please read the entire syllabus carefully and refer to it regularly throughout the semester.

Course Description

 Anthropology is the integrative study of who we are and where we come from. Anthropologists study all aspects of humans—including our evolution, our cultures, our languages, our histories, our entanglements with other living organisms, our health, our genetics, and so on. Since it is such a broad field of knowledge, this course will provide students with a survey of the (anti)-disciple.

This section of Introduction to Anthropology (ANTH1101-001) is designed to teach you to think anthropologically, that is, to think about humanity non-reductively. Thinking like an anthropologist is regarded as a tool for deciphering everyday experience and what it means to be human. Essentially, we are interested in who we are, where we come from, and what it means. Regardless of your major, understanding cultural and biological diversity, thinking critically and non-reductively, and culturally relative will be essential skills in whatever field and profession you’re passionate about!

Beyond the general course material, you will have the opportunity to practice your creativity, collaboration, communication, and most importantly, your critical thinking.

Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to anthropology as a discipline and its methodologies.
  • Help students develop analytical, communicative, and critical thinking skills through using anthropological knowledge.
  • Emphasize learning how to ask important and interesting anthropological questions.
  • Help students understand how we construct our worlds.
  • Think critically about social issues and articulate diverse perspectives.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • To apply anthropology to understand and solve human problems.

 Required Materials

How to Think Like and Anthropologist (ISBN: 9780691178783) by Matthew Engelke

Additional required readings include articles, book chapters, and other readings. These will be posted on Canvas.

Grade Components 

Grade Components Percentage
Attendance and Participation 10
Individual Summary/Reflection 30
Big Questions 20
Final Exam 15
Team Project 15
Misc. Individual Assignments 10
Total 100
Letter Grade Calculation
A = 100 to 90
B = 89.9 to 80
C = 79.9 to 70
D = 69.9 to 60
F = Below 60

 Course Format

 This class is organized in an active learning style called Team-Based Learning. This shifts the course away from a fully traditional lecture-style class and into a more engaging format. You will have weekly readings that engaged in anthropological themes (which you will complete before class each week) and class will be dedicated to lectures supplementing the readings, team and class discussions, and team activities.

In order to best engage with the material, it is important to touch it in various ways. This means that it is not enough to sit and listen to lecture and then stare at the material in a stressful and unproductive cram-session before and exam. Instead we will engage with the themes covered in the course through discourse, critique, reflection, and problem-solving.

We will accomplish this by being placed into permanent teams for the duration of the semester. Many of the in-class activities and a semester project will be completed in these teams.

 Course Information

Attendance and Decorum:

You must attend class to do well in this course. This class uses a team-based learning approach that requires you to be present during scheduled classes to work with your team. If you must miss a class, please realize that you are disadvantaging your team. As such, your team members get to decide whether to award you credit for work that is completed if you are not present. If you are receiving financial aid and fail to attend class regularly, you put yourself at risk of losing your aid.

If you must miss class, it is your responsibility to get notes from another student—not from me. I expect you to know when assignments are due, when exams are schedule, and what readings are required.

As adults, I expect you to be respectful regarding your conduct during class, including the use of cell phones, etc., in the classroom.  I would prefer that you not use laptops or tablets during class, except to take notes or participate in class activities. If you are distracting to me or to others during the class, I will ask you to modify your behavior or leave the room.  UNCC Policy Statement 104 10.s states “Disruptive conduct also includes use of cell phones or other electronic devices for voice or text communication in class.”

Controversial Subject Matter:

 Student participation and class discussion are highly valued and encouraged. As such, we will be exploring several potentially sensitive topics such as prejudice, discrimination, racism, and so forth. Mutual respect is key is this class. I will not tolerate disrespect under any circumstance. I ask that everyone is respectful of other people’s comments and questions even if you disagree. In the event that you find a comment another student makes to be insensitive or disrespectful, please speak up and explain your thoughts or feelings in a civil manner or discuss the issue with me outside of class.

That being said, I expect everyone to come to class with an open mind.  You will be asked to challenge your current world view and your classmates’ but let us do this in a respectful manner.  Active engagement is highly encouraged and rewarded.  I will exercise my responsibility to manage the discussions so that ideas and argument can proceed in an orderly fashion.  If you are having difficulty with participating or feel intimidated in any way, please come and see me and we can work together to find a solution.

Disability Services: 

UNC Charlotte is committed to access to education. If you have a disability and need academic accommodations, please provide a letter of accommodation from Disability Services early in the semester. For more information on accommodations, contact the Office of Disability Services at 704-687-0040 or visit their office in Fretwell 230.

Academic Integrity:

All students are required to read and abide by the UNC Charlotte Code of Student Academic Integrity available online at http://legal.uncc.edu/policies/up-407. Violations of the Code, including plagiarism, will result in disciplinary action.  The following violations of academic integrity are described in more detail online:

  1. CHEATING. Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices in any academic exercise. This definition includes unauthorized communication of information during an academic exercise.
  2. FABRICATION AND FALSIFICATION. Intentional and unauthorized alteration or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Falsification is a matter of altering information, while fabrication is a matter of inventing or counterfeiting information for use in any academic exercise
  3. MULTIPLE SUBMISSION. The submission of substantial portions of the same academic work (including oral reports) for credit more than once without authorization.
  4. PLAGIARISM. Intentionally or knowingly presenting the work of another as one’s own (i.e., without proper acknowledgement of the source). The sole exception to the requirement of acknowledging sources is when the ideas, information, etc., are common knowledge.
  5. ABUSE OF ACADEMIC MATERIALS. Intentionally or knowingly destroying, stealing, or making inaccessible library or other academic resource material.
  6. COMPLICITY IN ACADEMIC DISHONESTY. Intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
  7. GROUP WORK.  For group work, responsibility for insuring that academic integrity standards are followed is shared by all members of the group.  In cases where an individual student is able to demonstrate that he/she neither knew of nor participated in the academic dishonesty, that individual student is not guilty of academic dishonesty.

Students must assume that all graded assignments and tests are to be completed individually unless otherwise noted in writing in this syllabus.  Lack of knowledge on how and when to cite will NOT be acceptable as an excuse for cheating. I reserve the right to report any cases of suspected plagiarism or cheating.


It is necessary that you read BEFORE CLASS EACH WEEK. In order to effectively engage with the material in your teams, you will need to have an understanding of the material covered.

Class Cancellation:

Although I don’t foresee cancelling class, in a case where I must, I will communicate with you through Canvas Announcements. University-wide cancellations will be received through the university system.

Religious Accommodations: 

UNC Charlotte provides reasonable accommodations, including a minimum of two excused absences each academic year, for religious observances required by a student’s religious practice or belief. In cases where class will be missed due to religious observations, please communicate with me ahead of time.

Other Expectations:

I expect you to regularly check both Canvas and your UNC Charlotte email. This is how I will get in touch with you and it is the best way to get in touch with me.

I also expect that you will use Canvas to access required readings and to submit your assignments. You are responsible for doing so and should contact me in a timely manner (and before assignments are due!) should you have any difficulty.

It is your responsibility to get in touch with me early in the semester if you are struggling in the course or have questions.  I am more than happy to work with you, but I cannot do so unless you communicate with me.  I expect students to take advantage of my office hours, especially if the material or assignments seem difficult.

The University policy on withdrawal allows students only a limited number of opportunities available to withdraw from courses.  It is important for you to understand the financial and academic consequences that may result from course withdrawal.

Grading Policy

Attendance and Participation

You are expected to attend every session of class, but I understand that things happen. You can miss TWO CLASS PERIODS with no penalty to your grade. Your attendance and participation grade will be determined by your actual attendance each week in class plus peer-reviews of your team engagement.

This constitutes 10% of your total grade.

Individual Summary/Reflections

You will submit a reflection to Canvas on the reading that is due that week before class on Monday. These reflections are meant to help you think about the key ideas and main themes of the readings. They also allow you to show that you are engaging with the reading material. First, identify the main points of the reading(s) in a paragraph (6-8 sentences) and second, reflect on what you have read (you need to do more than merely summarize the reading) in another paragraph. Demonstrate that you have thought about the week’s topic. There are not right and wrong answers, but you must show that you have done the reading. You should include question(s) that the reading raised for you that you would like answers to.

Reflections should be between 200-450 words and must be at least 200 words to receive credit.

You will then respond to TWO of your team members’ posts (either their summary/reflection or response to yours) by Saturday at 11:59pm. You should respond in a substantive way. This can be accomplished by contributing to their post, critiquing their position, asking questions for clarification or to help them think about their position, etc. You SHOULD NOT merely post that “you agree” or “that’s interesting”.

These will constitute 30% of your total grade.

Big Questions:

You are expected to engage with “big questions” throughout the semester. These will cover material from the readings, in-class, and discussion. They are structured to assess your understanding of the material and ability to apply it. Students who complete all the assigned reading and take thorough reading notes perform much better on activities and assignments than students who do not read carefully.

The prompt will be posted on Canvas and you will have one week to complete the assignment. I will not accept late work as you have a full week to complete it at your leisure.

Big Questions will constitute 20% of your total grade.

Final Exam: 

The final exam is cumulative and will consist of 5 short answer questions that you are expected to answer in 15-20 sentences each. They will test your ability to think anthropologically by asking you to apply anthropological knowledge that you have attained throughout the semester in new ways. You will be expected to reference material from the readings and in-class lectures/discussions to support your answers.

The Final Exam is worth 15 % of your final grade.

Team-Based Challenges:

Throughout the semester, you will complete in-class team activities. These will vary in nature.

TBCs are worth 5% of your total grade.

Team Project:

Over the course of the semester you will work on a collaborative project with your team. It will be broken into four parts: 1) Picking a topic and developing an action plan for how you expect to tackle the task. 2) Compiling and annotated bibliography of peer-reviewed primary literature. 3) Developing a thesis (central argument) and defending it. 4) Presenting your project.

The first three parts are worth 10 points each and the final presentation is worth 100. Your individual final presentation grade is determined by the grade your team earns for the final presentation and the peer reviews that you receive from your team. It looks like this:

Your team project will constitute 15% of your total grade.

Miscellaneous Individual Assignments:

Several times throughout the semester, I will ask you to complete an assignment that is unrelated to the other categories (see: Goals This Semester reflection).

These will constitute 10% of your total grade.


Please do not try to negotiate your grade at the end of the semester. I will not offer late semester extra credit opportunities, re-assess your previous assignments, or arbitrarily bump up your grade. I will work with you throughout the semester to make sure you get the most out of the class.

While grades are necessary in order to hold you all accountable and to ensure that you are taking the time to engage in the material, I hate that they have become the center of students’ psyche. If you really focus on the material and its application and less so on doing the bare minimum to get your intended grade, you’ll find that you will actually do quite well in the course; better than you may have expected. In short, take the class seriously and it will greatly benefit you.

Syllabus Amendments:

I reserve the right to alter the syllabus as necessary.

Course Readings:

  • Week 1
    • Peregrine, Moses, Goodman, Lamphere, and Peacock- “What is Science in Anthropology?”
  • Week 2
    • Poleykett- “Ethnohistory and the Dead Cultures of Colonial Epidemiology”
    • Swift et al.- “Stable isotope analysis of Pacific rat Rattus exulans from archaeological sites in Mangareva French Polynesia The use of commensal species for understanding human activity and ecosystem change”
  • Week 3
    • Gregory- “Evolution as Fact, Theory, and Path”
    • Gregory- “Understanding Natural Selection”
    • Laland and Wray- “Does Evolutionary Theroy Need a Rethink?”
  • Week 4
    • Kamilar and Beaudrot- “Effects of Environmental Stress on Primate Populations”
    • Malone et al.- “Ethnoprimatology- Critical interdisciplinary and multispecies approaches in anthropology”
  • Week 5
    • Marks- The biological myth of human evolution
    • Fuentes- Human niche, human behaviour, human nature
  • Weeks 6-14
    • Engelke- How to Think Like an Anthropologist




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