Rock Art Dig Site Yanomamo Girl

Anthropology is the study of human biology, behavior, and culture, both past and present. Where other disciplines focus on a single aspect of what it is to be human, anthropology embraces an holistic perspective that comprehends the human condition from the interconnectedness of biology, behavior, and society and the legacies and distant echos of each of these. Anthropology therefore relies on the synthesis of knowledge and approaches from the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities. Its strength emanates from the interaction among its traditional subdisciplines of archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology.

The Department of Anthropology offers BA, BS, and MA degrees, with a focus in integrated applied anthropology. Through coursework, laboratory and field work, we train students to identify, understand, and address problems, with inter-meshed social, biological, material, and environmental dimensions.

Our students intern at and are employed by our community partners, including in heritage management and cultural mentoring (e.g., the Indian Center and area museums).

We have strong institutional ties with many UNL programs such as:

  • the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities,
  • Classics and Religious Studies,
  • the Institute for Ethnic Studies,
  • Environmental Studies,
  • the Center for Great Plains Studies, and
  • Global Studies.

We also have enduring relationships with local agencies and companies as well as state (Nebraska State Historical Society) and federal (National Park Service Midwest Archeological Center) agencies. We offer specialized masters programs in Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies, Great Plains Studies, Professional Archaeology and Women and Gender's Studies.

Our faculty is strong in the area of Heritage, with expertise in digital heritage, heritage management, and language conservation. Heritage has multiple facets, focusing as it does on the valuation, interpretation, and conservation of tangibles (artifacts, buildings) and intangibles (languages, traidtions) from the past. Our focus in Heritage is bolstered by expertise and research in Resiliency (the health and well-being of individuals and societies, both past and present) and how individuals and groups use their identity and heritage to enhance their resilience. Biological aspects of identity are a subject of study within Forensic Anthropology, where we also have strength.

The UNL Department of Anthropology is the only Anthropology program in the state of Nebraska. We also offer instruction in the Omaha language, being the only CIC institution to provide any indigenous language.


Congratulations to Dr. Mark Awakuni-Swetland, who received a 2014 UNL Parent's Association Award in recognition of his service to students.

Congratulations to Erik Skov, who was awarded the 2014 Folsom Award for Distinguished MA Thesis for his thesis: EXPERIMENTATION IN SLING WEAPONRY: EFFECTIVENESS OF AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR A WORLD-WIDE PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY.

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