January 2022

Anthropological Perspectives on Building a Better World

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-117


Vanessa L. Fong (Section 01J)


How can anthropological perspectives help us understand the intended and unintended consequences of our efforts to build a better world? This course will address this question by looking at anthropological studies of the implementation and consequences of large-scale, deeply transformative policies and practices intended to improve people’s lives, solve current problems, and prevent future catastrophes. We will focus especially on comparisons between China and the United States, which have two of the world’s largest and most influential economies and face many similar problems, but have developed very different approaches to trying to build a better world. We will evaluate current proposals for transformative new policies and practices, and consider how efforts to build a better world might benefit from anthropologists’ ability to look holistically at relationships between personal experiences, psychology, cultural norms, social structures, philosophy, laws, history, politics, economics, biology, technology, environmental issues, global systems, and international relations. Students will learn to draw on anthropological perspectives as they develop and write about their own ideas for building a better world and about consequences those ideas might have.

Limited to 19 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. January term. Professor Fong.

If Overenrolled: Priority goes to Anthropology majors and students who contribute to balance between different graduation years, majors, and academic backgrounds. First priority to first-year students during fall orientation.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Speaking, Online Only, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022