What is Applied Anthropology?

What is Anthro header?

What is anthropology?

Learn more about the basics of the four fields in anthropology.

Putting anthropology to good use

Anthropology has been put to practical use throughout its history, but the field of applied anthropology dates to 1941 with the formation of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Applied anthropology, also known as “practicing anthropology,” is defined as the practical application of anthropological method and theory to the needs of society. It is, quite simply, anthropology put to good use. This fifth field of anthropology has increased dramatically in the past three decades. 

Today, most anthropology graduates pursue applied rather than academic careers. According to the Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance, “most new jobs [in anthropology] arising in the near future will be in non-teaching positions in consulting firms, research institutes, corporations, and federal, state, and local government agencies. Among the factors contributing to this growth is increased environmental, historic, and cultural preservation legislation.”

A list of applied areas in anthropology is included on the Careers and Outcomes page.

Using anthropology to impact communities

Anthropologists not only study communities; we actively collaborate with communities for their benefit. At Missouri State, this has included:

  • Establishing a language preservation project with the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma
  • Designing a museum exhibit in collaboration with the Osage nation
  • Advocating for the health care needs of Marshallese immigrants
  • Creating a diabetes prevention program for the Latino immigrant community
  • Exploring frontier slavery through archaeology in conjunction with a state park, a local African American history museum and the descendant community
  • Advocating for the Native American Code Talkers Recognition  Act of 2008
  • Sponsoring a campus powwow
  • Starting an artisanal fisher’s organization in Jamaica
  • Developing a public archaeology and historic preservation project in Jamaica
  • Offering workshops for homeschool students