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Anthropology in the real world

Public Issues Anthropology is a 16-month master’s program (four terms: fall, winter, spring, fall) of full-time study in which students are trained to identify the relevance of anthropological findings and approaches to topics within public discourse. Students apply anthropology in their examination of pressing current issues that impact diverse publics, and conjoin anthropological theory and data where possible.

Take a look into some of what we do.

Video Transcript

Archaeological | Biological | Cultural

The Public Issues Anthropology program represents a unique approach to graduate studies in anthropology, and is based on two principles:

  • There are themes and issues that are fundamentally anthropological and which therefore cross-cut and integrate the traditional subdisciplines of anthropology—cultural, biological, archaeological (as well as applied and linguistic)—even at the level of advanced research.
  • Anthropological findings, theory, practices, experiences, and methodologies have relevance for many topics that show up today in the public sphere.

Some students in our Masters program choose to focus on traditional research topics and methods within their chosen subdiscipline, emphasizing in their thesis the public implications of their findings. Other students use the opportunities afforded by our program to explore topics that span multiple subdisciplines, or to explore innovative or non-traditional anthropological research topics and methodologies. Some of the students attracted to our program are interested in using the methods and findings of Anthropology as a way to explore issues of social justice, although doing so is not a requirement of the program. If you are wondering whether our program might be right for you, you are welcome to contact any of our professors whose research expertise includes your area of interest, or the Anthropology Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Adrienne Lo.

Careers for our graduates

Public Issues Anthropology graduates have expertise in both anthropological knowledge and applied skills that have proven useful in pursuing studies at the doctoral level in Anthropology and in other disciplines, and to a range of employers. Graduates of this program who have decided to pursue doctoral studies in Anthropology have done so at the University of Arizona, University College London, Western University, University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University, York University, and Memorial University. Graduates of this program have also gone on to pursue doctoral studies in Sociology here at the University of Waterloo. Employers who have hired our Public Issues Anthropology graduates include Communitech, Desire2Learn, Hamilton Police Services, Scribendi, Statistics Canada, Trillium Gift of Life Network, and Woodland Heritage Services.