The anthropology major will look different in the coming years, owing to the restructuring of major requirements and the retiring of two long-time faculty in the department.
Ann Hill, professor of anthropology, and Kjell Enge, associate professor of anthropology, will both be retiring at the end of this academic year. They have taught at Dickinson for 33 years and 35 years, respectively.
According to Maria Bruno, associate professor of anthropology and archaeology and chair of the anthropology department, the changes to the major were needed regardless of the two retirements.
“We had been thinking about these changes before,” she said.
“In years past, most retiring professors would be replaced, but because of some of the financial problems that the college is facing at the moment, they did not renew our request to replace Professor Hill,” Bruno stated. “It is sort of on the table so if things get better in a couple of years, then down the road, we might eventually get to do that, but that is difficult for us, because it gives us less people to work with.”
Hill echoed these sentiments of budgetary concerns, adding that “The college experience is every so often [in] budget crunches, and we’re in one of them, so…we can’t all have the same expectation about replacing the number of people we are losing, let alone replacing them in their particular specialty. So, having two professors retire the same year, I think under those circumstances, one is fine, to get any is better than none.”
Bruno called the new major requirements “streamlined.”
“It’s still the same number of courses… We made a few changes to make it a little less hierarchical that gives students a little more flexibility in what courses they could take and it offers professors a little more flexibility too.”
The main changes to the major is the elimination of a mandatory thesis and the restructure of the introductory and research methods requirements so that methods, theory and introduction courses do not all have to be offered each semester.
“It became kind of constraining for us,” stated Bruno, referring to the faculty of the department.
“The big change is: we actually did away with the thesis, so instead of doing the anthropology 400 [class] as the final part of the thesis for the senior year, it has been moved to the fall and it is more of a senior seminar, so students will do a research paper-type thing but it won’t carry back over to the thesis for everyone to do,” Bruno said.
Seniors will still have the option to complete a thesis if they have at least a 3.6 GPA and their thesis is approved.
Caroline Snyder ’19, who is a senior anthropology major, commented that she “love[s] the thesis.”
“Yes, it’s a lot of work but it is also very cumulative of the past four years and combining all of my anthropology classes and helps to bring everything together and put into perspective what I have learned. It can be a lot on top of other classes though so I can see why it could be optional for honors. I like it though again [be]cause it allows me to have conversations with other seniors in other majors about their topics and have conversations about things we might have not thought about before,” she said.
“I think both of those [changes] are very positive,” stated Hill. “and I think they’re in line with what students in this generation at Dickinson are more comfortable with and what we are more comfortable with as a department that wants to attract good students who will thrive in our curriculum.”
The anthropology major currently has about 15 students. However, according to Bruno, there is a “new wave” of first-years students interested in the major, which led to the creation of the Anthropology Club.
“I felt that th[ere] should be a more accessible place for both majors and non-majors to explore anthropology that did not necessarily involve taking a class,” stated Charlotte Page ’22, president of the Anthropology Club. “I became interested in the anthropology major through the intro to cultural anthropology [course] which perfectly combined my interested in history and the study of humanity.”
“In the beginning of the year, things felt a little rough,” said Bruno, “just because we had all these changes going, but we’re excited for all the new students who have taken courses in anthropology and have seen how interesting it is and are motivated.”
Hill spoke to the abilities of the faculty in the anthropology department, calling her colleagues “confidence-building, reassuring, inspiring.”
“When I routinely review my colleagues, I am routinely inspired,” Hill said.
“Professors Enge and Hill have contributed to our department for so long and so we will be sad to see them go,” Bruno said, “but we are excited to see what the future holds and to see what new faculty members join and what they bring to the department.”