ANTHROPOLOGY 003: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Section 31910: T/Th 3:30 to 4:55 pm

Spring 2014

Instructor:  David Homa


Contact Information:




Office Location: Room 302   Los Gatos High School


Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:10 am or by appointment


Course Description:

This course introduces the student to the basic principles of Cultural Anthropology. It presents some of the diversity in the ways that humans have organized their social institutions and cultural systems. It explores what produces that diversity and how societies change; how a society’s beliefs, institutions and ways of making a living are related to one another; and how individuals are both creatures of their culture and agents of their own lives. It addresses the issue of what constitutes a culture in the contemporary world and explores patterns of global variability.

Anthropologists study all kinds of cultures, from cities of the United States to Arctic and desert foraging cultures; from peasant villages to transnational corporations. This course will study a variety of cultures from small-scale and technologically simple societies to what happens in your cultural environment.  Direct participation and observation of a group’s daily life, is an important way that anthropologists generate new knowledge. You will read a variety of field studies, or ethnographies, and view several associated films. This will be supplemented by a textbook, additional readings and anthropological films and videos.


Required Text:

Lavenda, Robert H. and Emily A. Schultz (2007).  Core Concepts in Cultural Anthropology, 5th Edition.  New York:McGraw-Hill.

ISBN: 978007803493


Additional Text: 

Spardley, James and David W. McCrudy (2006).  Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology, 12th Edition. Boston:Pearson.




·         By the end of the class, students who satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements of this course should be able to

·         Understand and appreciate cultural and social difference, and how human diversity is produced and shaped by local and global patterns.

·         Articulate a critical understanding of anthropology and its history, its object of study, and its various approaches to the study of people, culture, and social dynamics.

·         Become critically aware of ethnocentrism, its manifestations, and consequences in a world that is progressively interconnected.

·         Use anthropological concepts and ways of asking questions to understand contemporary social, economic, and political issues.

·         Identify and critically assess ethical issues that arise in the practice of anthropology and ethnography.


Core Learning Objectives:

·         Understand the bases & development of human and societal endeavors across time and place.

·         Explain and be able to assess the relationship among assumptions, method, evidence, arguments, and theory from an anthropological perspective in particular.

·         Understand different theories about human culture, social identity, economic entities, political systems, and other forms of social organization.



The students’ mastery of these objectives will be assessed through the exercises outlined below.


3 Response Paper (50 points each – 15%)            150 points

4 Quizzes (50 points each – 20%)                          200 points

1 Midterm (250 points – 25%)                                250 points

Final Exam (Comprehensive – 30 %)                    300 points

Section Grade (10%)                                                 100 points


Base total: 1000 points


A: 900-1000 • B+: 880-899 • B: 800-879 • C+: 780-799 • C: 700-779 • D: 600-699 • F: 0-599

The grade is points based and as such I will not round up points.




Response Papers (15%): Select one of the handouts from class and write a 500 to 750 word response (about 2 pages of double-spaced text in 12-point font and with 1” margins). You must succinctly summarize the author’s point first, and then articulate an effective response, critique or commentary that conveys to your readers (i.e., your instructor) your increasing capacity to think within the terms of the discipline and what you have learned in the course. If you need help consider the following: How did the reading surprise you? Did it make you think differently about anything? Yes/no? How? Some of these essays come from a different time, how do you think the author(s) would respond to the world/the discipline/our society today? Is a concept or idea proposed by an author useful to think with? How so? These are just few suggestions. 

You will still be responsible for the readings the day your response paper is due.


Quizzes (20%): There will be 3 quizzes throughout the semester, which may be given at any time during the lecture. Each quiz is worth 50 points and will be based on the material covered in readings and the lectures of that week (but only up that day). Formats include multiple choice, short answer, and a brief write-in exercises. These quizzes are intended to encourage you to keep up with the readings, come to class on time, and stay for the duration of the period.


Exams (55%): There will be a midterm exam and one comprehensive final. Question formats may include multiple choice, short answer, and short essay. If you cannot make one of the exam dates for a justifiable reason, you must take it in advance. No make ups will be allowed.


Section Grade (10%): You should expect to be assessed in terms of your attendance, participation, and your contributions to the discussions.


Academic Honesty: There is a zero-tolerance policy on violations of academic honesty standards in this course. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing you will automatically receive 0 points for the assignment, quiz or exam in question. For a description of academic honesty definitions and further consequences, please refer to the college catalog.


Study Groups: You are encouraged to get to know your fellow students and to assist each other in understanding the course topics, provide information from missed classes, and to study for exams.


Dropping This Class: If you choose to withdraw from this course during the semester, it is your responsibility to drop the course by submitting a drop slip to Admissions and Records. If you fail to do so and your name appears on the final roster you will receive a grade for the class. Check the academic calendar for the last day to drop the class without penalties.


Credit/No Credit Option: It is the responsibility of the student to notify the instructor in writing by the end of the sixth week of instruction if the credit/no credit option is exercised.


Students with Disabilities: West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Please contact the Disability and Educational Support Program at (408) 741-2010 (voice) or (408) 741-2658 (TTY) for assistance.

Technology. The use of technology and gadgets during the lecture IS PROHIBITED. Any device that distracts you and/or others is considered disruptive and disrespectful behavior, and will be treated as such. The operation of laptops, tablets (including iPads), audio/video recorders or any other technological equipment or devices is allowed only with prior approval. Cell phones must be silenced and put away. If you must make or take a call, answer or write a text, or use your phone in any way, you must leave the classroom for the day. If you decide to use your phone, laptop or any other gadget without authorization during class, you will ask to leave for the remainder of the session. Any student who leaves or is asked to leave class on two occasions or more because of technology usage will be penalized with a 5% grade drop (50 points). A third offense will result in an additional 50-point penalty (for a total 10% drop since 3 sessions account for 10% of our total meetings, and 15 percent of the lectures).