At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
Anthropology challenges us to ask what it means to be human, and opens us to the diversity and dynamics of humankind. At Bennington, we bring this lens to a range of topics, from economics and politics, to culture and worldviews, to connections in social dynamics. We encourage students to take a critical look at their assumptions about culture, relativism, ethnocentrism, universalism, integration; about capitalism, democracy, globalization, colonialism, and human-environmental interactions. In this sense, anthropology aims to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.
In their coursework, students are introduced to basic anthropological skills and tools, which they are able to practice in research they undertake on campus or during their annual off-campus Field Work Term. Students whose academic plans include anthropology are encouraged to do advanced work in the field. Theses provide students the opportunity to improve their skills in data collection, critical thinking, and communication. Just as interests and academic plans range widely, so do research topics: recent examples include China’s one-child policy to community arts in Philadelphia to spoken language and group identity in a Lebanese village.
Bennington alumni have gone on to top graduate programs and pursued professional training and careers in human rights work, public art, public policy, think tanks, education, educational policy, museum studies, law school, journalism, and health care.
Noah Coburn is a political anthropologist who focuses on Afghanistan and South Asia, studying violence, governance, and how people negotiate the overlap of politics, power, and culture.
Prazak teaches anthropology and African studies, specializing in economic development and cultural change in East Africa, using multidisciplinary research strategies to address globalization, inequality, culturally-based ways of knowing, gender-based violence, and politics of the body.