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Sioux Falls Atheists endorse Anthropology and the Study of Humanity for
showing how we came from being primates to become modern humans.

Anthropology and the Study of Humanity
Find out what makes us human by learning where we came from
Lectures by Professor Scott M. Lacy

Anthropology and the Study of Humanity (2017) - 24 lectures, 12 hours
Anthropology and the Study of Humanity at

What does it mean to be human? Where did we come from? And what unites us in our diversity today? As the world population continues to explode, these big questions about humanity become increasingly important, and anthropology is the field of study that tackles them. From our tree-dwelling primate ancestors 63 million years ago through today’s globally connected citizens, anthropology looks at Homo sapiens to find out why we are the way we are.

Because anthropology is such an interdisciplinary field, many Great Courses have touched on it from different angles. Now for the first time, we are pleased to offer a comprehensive survey of this fascinating topic. Anthropology and the Study of Humanity is your chance to gain a complete understanding of one of the world’s most engaging—and human—sciences. Taught by acclaimed professor and field researcher Scott M. Lacy of Fairfield University, these 24 wide-ranging lectures are the ideal guide through the world of anthropology.

“Put simply, anthropology is the study of humankind over time and space,” Professor Lacy says in the course introduction. “And I promise, if I were to get any more specific than that, we’d be chopping off specialized branches of our disciplinary tree.”

As a field of study, anthropology covers a lot of ground, from the language of primates to bones found in a desert to modern-day war zones. A survey of the field encompasses elements of history, biology, archaeology, linguistics, sociology, and cultural studies. It also involves data analyses, population modeling, urban development, economics, medicine, forensics, sexuality, art, and much, much more. Anything and everything that relates to humanity, anthropology approaches, demonstrating the common threads across world cultures and revealing the underlying connections that unite us all.

In Anthropology and the Study of Humanity, Professor Lacy gives you an elegant blend of theory and application to help you understand this extraordinarily interdisciplinary field as a whole. You will examine how humans evolved and built civilizations, review humanity’s changing attitudes about our relationship to the cosmos, and consider the many ways we express ourselves. In the end, what you’ll discover is that while our species is rich with diversity, we are much more similar than we are different.

Explore the 7-Million-Year History of Walking Apes

To anchor this course, Professor Lacy gives you a historical overview of Homo sapiens, starting at the very root of our family tree, when proto-humans split away from other primates in the animal kingdom. As he wends his way across time and around the world, he grounds you in an array of theories and models, making them accessible and relevant to the world around us. He also introduces the field’s four major academic sub-disciplines:

  • Biological Anthropology:
      Uncover the physical makeup of humans, our evolutionary history, and biological variations from one individual to another. Start with the research of primatologists and trace the evolution of Homo sapiens and find out how they might have spread around the world. See how scientists have shifted from a Social Darwinist model to Cultural Relativity.
  • Archaeological Anthropology:
      Take on the role of a historical detective and dive into the reality of fieldwork. You’ll learn what the archaeological record shows about the development of tools, the transition to agriculture, and the development of ancient cities. And, you’ll be surprised to discover ways that archaeology reveals counterintuitive truths about our history, such as the origins of money and debt.
  • Linguistic Anthropology:
      Language has changed human evolution by increasing our capacity for information exchange, thus speeding up the development of new technologies. Survey this fascinating sub-discipline and consider how language shapes how we observe and perceive daily life. Revisit primatology to see what talking chimpanzees can teach us about humanity.
  • Cultural Anthropology:
      One of the biggest lessons from this course is that our behavior is relative to cultural context. Western thinkers used to classify humans as savages or civilized, but as you will discover in this course, such classification is not only wrong-headed, it also shuts down discovery about the richness of our world’s cultures. Examine humanity through the lens of art, religion, cultural constructs, and more.

Scott M. Lacy is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Fairfield University. He is also the founder and executive director of African Sky, a nonprofit organization that serves hardworking farm families in rural Mali, West Africa. Dr. Lacy earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His nonprofit and academic work has been featured in two major documentaries, Sustaining Life and Nyogonfe: Together, and he is a coauthor of two popular textbooks, Applying Anthropology and Applying Cultural Anthropology.

24 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Why Anthropology Matters 13: Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity
2: Science, Darwin, and Anthropology 14: Field Research in Cultural Anthropology
3: Our Primate Family Tree 15: Kinship, Family, and Marriage
4: Paleoanthropology and the Hominin Family 16: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
5: Tracing the Spread of Humankind 17: Religion and Spirituality
6: Anthropology and the Question of Race 18: Art and Visual Anthropology
7: Archaeology and Human Tools 19: Conflict and Reconciliation across Cultures
8: Agricultural Roots of Civilization 20: Forensics and Legal Anthropology
9: Rise of Urban Centers 21: Medical Anthropology
10: Anthropological Perspectives on Money 22: Anthropology and Economic Development
11: Anthropological Perspectives on Language 23: Cultural Ecology
12: Apocalyptic Anthropology 24: The Anthropology of Happiness


Anthropology and the Study of Humanity
Find out what makes us human by learning where we came from
Lectures by Professor Scott M. Lacy

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse Anthropology and the Study of Humanity for
showing how we came from being primates to become modern humans.