Anthropology: Environmental Anthropology, BA

Anthropology is the global social science. It is the study of the human condition everywhere; its cultural, linguistic, and biological diversity; and how it evolved and developed from the prehistoric past into the globalizing present. Anthropology is an interdisciplinary 14 credit major that intersects with programs and departments across the University. Students may major in anthropology as a whole (General Anthropology), or choose to concentrate in Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, or specialize in two thematic concentrations: Medical Anthropology and Environmental Anthropology.

Environmental Anthropology is a thematic concentration that investigates how human societies create and change geologies and climates up to a planetary scale, and the ways that anthropologists have questioned the division between cultures and nature.  Students may choose to study topics from contemporary society to the impact of environmental change over long spans of time. Students have the opportunity to do original fieldwork, engage in research with the collections of the Penn Museum and the resources of the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) and study abroad. After they fulfill the foundational course requirements in anthropology, students take three distribution electives from the four themes of Political Ecology, Science Technology and the Environment, Material Worlds, Landscapes and Archaeology; and Biology, Environment and Health.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 34. Double majors may entail more course units.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.


College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Block I: Introductory courses
ANTH 0020Anthropology, Race, and the Making of the Modern World1
or ANTH 0040 The Modern World and Its Cultural Background
ANTH 0050Great Transformations1
or ANTH 1480 Food and Fire: Archaeology in the Laboratory
ANTH 0030Human Origins, Evolution and Diversity1
Block II
Select 3 Foundation courses: 23
Attribute AAPE - Political Ecology
Attribute AAST - Science, Technology, and Environment
Attribute AAMW - Material Worlds, Landscapes, Archaeology
Attribute AABE - Biology, Environment, Health
Block III
Select 2 courses from the approved list: 32
Attribute AAEA - Environmental Anthropology
Select 2 course units in Anthropology: 2
Attribute AAAR - Archeology; Attribute AACL - Cultural and Linguistic; Attribute AABI - Biological Anthropology; Attribute AAEA - Environmental; AAMA - Medical Anthropology
Select 3 Anthropology or Anthropology-related courses in another department 33
Capstone Seminar
ANTH 4000Research Seminar in Anthropology1
Total Course Units34

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


Foundation courses are drawn from at least 3 of the 4 elective groups:

  • Political Ecology
  • Science, Technology, Environment
  • Material Worlds, Landscapes, Archaeology
  • Biology, Environment, and Health

Up to 3 of these, non-ANTH courses with anthropological content may be requested.  All non-ANTH courses must be approved by the Undergraduate Program coordinator.


Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the Major and write a senior thesis.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.