‘I love the mindset anthropology gives you’

NDSU anthropology students gain an greater appreciation of the world and its diverse cultures. 

Alyssa Baker first became interested in anthropology during a freshman introductory course. It was an immediate fit. 

“My professor was so enthusiastic about anthropology,” said the recent graduate from Belle Plaine, Minnesota. “You could tell he was super passionate about it. It drew me in.”

Anthropology studies humans and human culture in the past and present. Classes in the program are designed to develop critical thinking skills and cross-cultural understanding with in-class discussions and research experience both in and out of the classroom. 

“I love the mindset anthropology gives you,” Baker said. “It’s always about looking for a different perspective and looking for different ways to solve problems. You experience the world through yourself. It’s hard to imagine it from other people’s perspectives. Anthropology pushes you.” 

The program encourages students to get involved in hands-on opportunities at field schools across the world. These experiences develop student’s understanding of past cultures while gaining knowledge of archaeological best practices. 

Last summer, Baker completed a field school through the Center for American Archaeology at their headquarter site in Kampsville, Illinois. Baker worked on excavating a heritage site that was once a small settlement. 

“It’s one thing to learn in class, but then to actually get to go and apply those to an actual excavation site was pretty cool,” she said. 

At NDSU, Baker has analyzed artifacts from sites like the one in Kampsville in the department’s skills lab. Students work in the lab alongside faculty to process, analyze and catalogue materials from various field sites. 

Baker said the best part of the program has been working with faculty. 

“My professors have been super supportive,” she said. “They’re also all very passionate. They love talking about their subjects. It’s made me be very interested and passionate about it, too.”

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