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Anthropology and Heritage Studies


Anthropology is dedicated to understanding humankind’s diversity as well as what makes us uniquely human. Through the specific perspectives and methods of socio-cultural, archaeological, and biological anthropology, students learn how the human experience (past and present) is constituted through the interaction of social, cultural, political, material, historical, environmental, and biological factors. Anthropology strives for a holistic understanding of humankind and, depending on the questions asked and the means used to discover answers, anthropological knowledge can straddle the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

The undergraduate major in Anthropology emphasizes how topics and issues central to the human experience such as migration, gender, power, health, kinship, race and identity are examined and understood through diverse anthropological methodologies. In upper division courses, students explore particular socio-cultural, archaeological and biological perspectives on such issues in greater depth, and these courses may specifically engage perspectives from two or more subfields. Other courses may consider a range of topics within a specific geographical area, while acknowledging certain limitations to the area studies configuration of knowledge.

Undergraduate majors in Anthropology develop critical skills in thought, written and oral expression and the application of knowledge, as well as a valuable understanding of human cultural diversity. In an increasingly globalized world in which interaction with people of diverse cultures is becoming the norm, developing a cross cultural understanding about complexities of human societies past and present is what makes Anthropology an ideal education for the 21st century. A bachelor’s degree in Anthropology is valuable preparation for a career in law, medicine, education, business, government, museums and various areas of nonprofit, public and international service, including public policy and cultural resource management.

For additional information on the Anthropology major at UC Merced, please visit the Anthropology & Heritage Studies website.

For Anthropology major requirements, please consult your catalog.


World Heritage

World Heritage focuses on the natural heritage and cultural legacy of the human past, and how it is reflected today in places, landscapes, and intangible aspects of our cultures. Through the perspective of heritage studies, the World Heritage minor stimulates students to develop a critical understanding of heritage, to investigate the conservation, protection, and management of natural and cultural resources, and to analyze both institutional and multi-vocal approaches to the study of past and present cultures.

The World Heritage minor offers coursework and applied labs related to the study and mapping of monuments, buildings, cultural and natural sites and to the preservation and management of natural and cultural resources using methods and tools from Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, 3D mapping, digital data curation, and interactive visualization technologies. Skills and methods in these fields are very high-demand, employable talents in government, business, and academic sectors.

Currently, only UC Merced runs a set of courses in World Heritage, making our campus a pioneer in this field of study within the University of California system.

Program Learning Outcomes

The main task is to study the evolving methodologies and techniques of documentation, analysis, visualization, and management of heritage sites (natural and cultural), and to evaluate their potential to enrich contemporary societies in the light of the interpretation of the past and of the preservation and conservation of natural and cultural resources. Students will be able to:

1. Explain and illustrate heritage as a cultural process and the role of World Heritage in contemporary society.

2. Use field methods and digital technologies to investigate and document heritage case studies

3. Dialogue with different disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art, art history, cognitive science, computer science, cultural and natural resource management, earth science, geography, global policies, and history to interpret how various academic disciplines and methodologies contribute to World Heritage.

4. Explain key principles and policies of natural and cultural heritage protection and management by mastering international policies, theoretical approaches, best practices, and operating procedures.

5. Analyze monuments, cultural landscapes, museums, and historic sites and explain their value for local communities and humanity at large.

For additional information on the World Heritage minor at UC Merced, please visit the Anthropology & Heritage Studies website.

For World Heritage minor requirements, please consult your catalog.


Community Research and Service Minor

UC Merced's purposeful location in the San Joaquin Valley and nearby Sierra Nevada, a region characterized by disadvantages in the environment, economics, education, health, and civic engagement, invites this academic program that focuses on ways to transform poverty into prosperity. Addressing the complexity of local, regional and global poverty requires the knowledge and problem-solving strategies from diverse academic fields. This minor highlights the role of community-engaged research (CEnR), an approach to problem solving based on academic-community collaboration. Problem solving through CEnR leads to both scholarly and community benefits.

CEnR skills developed in the Community Research and Service (CRS) minor complement training provided in all academic majors. Students can apply the concepts and research methods they have learned in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, or arts to improving the quality of life locally, regionally, and more broadly. The following three themes define the minor.

  1. Analytics of Prosperity: understanding data and using scientific measures to ensure that our activities actually improve quality of life
  2. Sustainability: taking environmentally, economically, and socially sound approaches to growing prosperity, and
  3. Community-engaged innovation: identifying new problems and solving old problems in new ways via collaboration that values local knowledge.

CRS coursework and field experiences engage students in these themes while working with non-profit, government, and industry partners on real-life problems in the San Joaquin Valley and nearby Sierra Nevada. Problems within these regions often have analogues in other national and international emerging economies, which may facilitate collaboration and training opportunities outside UC Merced's region. Central to the CRS minor is an experience that provides students with practical research and collaborative problem solving that is intended to enhance professional development including skills that are sought out by professional and community leaders.

For additional information on the Community Research and Service minor at UC Merced, please visit the Anthropology & Heritage Studies website.

For Community Research and Service minor requirements, please consult your catalog.