Introduction to Culture

Anthropology is a global, historical and holistic study of human diversity. Thus, the evolution of human culture and social organization lie at the core of anthropology. This course offers a general survey of anthropological theoretical paradigms, methods, and key research areas. Specific cases exemplifying cultural and social dynamics of human behavior are taken from both traditional and contemporary societies with the goal of developing an intellectual platform for understanding world cultures and providing tools for cultural introspection.

The course will emphasize the origins and reasons for cultural diversity and the role of culture in the past, present, and future survival of our species. Stress will be placed on the interaction of culture with the physical and social environment and the exploration of the forces which direct the evolution of cultures.

Jay Silverstein:

Jay Silverstein is an anthropological archaeologist (PhD Penn State) with extensive international experience who joined the faculty of the SAS in 2019. In support of his international and multidisciplinary work, he also holds affiliate positions with the University of Hawaii and Cranfield College and is an Explorer with the National Geographic Society. Prior to coming to the SAS, Jay worked with the US military searching for missing soldiers from past wars. In the search for the missing, Jay developed a nationally recognized Enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS) to track the investigation and recovery of 80,000 missing persons. Jay currently co-directs an archaeological project and field school in at the Graeco-Roman city of Thmouis (Tell Timai) in the Egyptian Nile Delta. The well-preserved city offers a unique opportunity to analyze the cultural transformations associated with Greek and Roman imperialism and the evolution of religions from the indigenous Egyptian pantheon through Christianity. His theoretical interests focus on the Rise and Fall of Complex Societies, Imperialism, Archaeological Manifestations of Social Power, Evolutionary Theory, Ancient Hydraulic/Ecological Adaptations, Warfare, GIS, and Urban Development. He has directed research projects in Mexico, Guatemala, Southeast Asia, North and South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Austria. He is currently developing new projects in Egypt and Russia that support the integration of 3D data collection that will generate content in support of the pedagogical and communication revolution of augmented and virtual reality experiential learning and analytical methods. Jay’s evolutionary studies focus on the failure of the current Neo-Darwinian paradigm to address several phenomena related to the development and progress of life on earth that are inexplicable in Darwinian terms.