Department of History, Philosophy, and Anthropology

Department of History, Philosophy, and Anthropology

Programs / Courses

Learn about the majors and minors of the Department of History, Philosophy, and Anthropology. Our faculty value close interaction with students and their academic work.


Anthropology is a comprehensive science of humankind, concerned with a comparative and holistic approach to the study of human society and culture across time and space. The Anthropology program emphasizes an applied anthropological approach to enable students to skillfully use theories and methods to address the pressing issues of our contemporary era. The Anthropology program draws upon theoretical and methodological approaches in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. 

The Anthropology major and minors present basic concepts in Cultural Anthropology, ethnographic methods, statistical research skills, and higher- level content courses. The program also gives students knowledge in the four subfields of Anthropology (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology). The Anthropology minors provide solid methodological training that students can use in conjunction with work in various fields such as psychology, education, law, global economics, human rights, business, or health.

The Anthropology program aims to provide students with methodological, conceptual, and professional skills that will help them work in other fields with an ability to respect other cultures learned through coursework and experience in fieldwork encounters.

The Anthropology program goals include preparing students for graduate studies in cultural Anthropology and social justice.  As a discipline, Anthropology is uniquely equipped to educate students on agency and the power of social movements, therefore we aim to foster an understanding of human structures of power and societal inequalities, by offering ways to identify and analyze the causes, manifestations, and effects of social injustice globally and locally. 

The courses that make up the Anthropology major and minors present basic concepts in cultural Anthropology, ethnographic methods, statistical research skills, along with higher-level content courses. The core of the Anthropology minor provides solid methodological training that students can use in conjunction with work in various fields.

Students will also learn that Anthropology as a discipline has a strong commitment to issues of social justice and human rights.

Black Studies

The mission of the Black Studies program is to provide an interdisciplinary intellectual arena in which students learn to critically examine, analyze, and interpret the history, literature, and cultures of the African continent, and its Diaspora throughout the Americas.

The goal of the program is to offer a broad selection of courses addressing historical, cultural, sociological, political, economic, and psychological factors that affect the lives of African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean peoples.  The curriculum stresses the skills necessary to think critically, write clearly, argue persuasively, and problem-solve effectively.  Students are exposed to theory and research in a variety of subject matters and are encouraged to engage in active service and research beyond the classroom.


The History faculty seeks to impart knowledge of the societies and cultures of the past both to inform students and help them better understand present-day events. History courses and programs of study are designed to develop an appreciation of the study of history as one of the major modes of humanity’s search for knowledge of itself as well as familiarity with the methods historians employ. In addition, a goal of the program is to enhance student skills in analysis, oral/written communication, and critical thinking. Given our presence in the Pathways Core curriculum and the popularity of our instructors, we serve nearly all students at York. As a result, our curriculum should prepare students for lives as engaged citizens and for a plethora of careers from professional historians, lawyers, diplomats, financiers, health practitioners, to researchers, archivists, teachers, public policy makers, or entrepreneurs.

For more information about the scholarship, careers, and professional issues in history, please visit the website of the American Historical Association.

Interdisciplinary Studies

The Interdisciplinary Studies major aims to develop the multidisciplinary knowledge and skills required to explore relations among the Arts and Sciences and, therefore, the significance of higher education as a whole

The Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) major was designed to help students explore the relations among the Arts and Sciences and, therefore, the significance of higher education as a whole.  The major has been instrumental for students who later apply to the Interdisciplinary Studies-Teacher Education (IS-TE) 1-6 Major. It has also played a supportive role for students who are undecided about a major or unable to pursue their plans of going into a professional program. The department aims for the major to provide the flexibility, knowledge, and skills to pursue a variety of careers. Through exposure to various disciplines, students are empowered to decide on and pursue their own program of study based on interests and plans.


The Philosophy major and minor programs engage ideals of democracy and justice by preparing students to evaluate critically the assumptions and arguments supporting claims about the nature of the world and the meaning of our experience in it

The Philosophy program has been an integral part of the department since its founding. Due to its nature, Philosophy can serve a useful role not just for students majoring or minoring in the discipline but for all students.

Philosophy courses train students to identify the assumptions behind claims about the world and our experience in it, critically evaluating the arguments supporting and refuting such claims. As such, students may explore basic ideas in all arts and sciences and subject matters. Among the assumptions examined are ideas about the good, the beautiful, the meaning of lived experience, the responsibility of the individual, and the nature of just communities. Through Philosophy courses, students can be better prepared to robustly engage the people and institutions around them in a manner that furthers the ideals of democracy and justice.

Philosophy courses can also serve a deeply personal role, initiating students to the possibilities of being in the world, encouraging them to think for themselves, helping them to discover their strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them to formulate their own values and definitions of the “good life” as well as to recognize the value and good in all nature (human nature included).

Finally, Philosophy courses in the department tend to follow an open, dialogical, and more democratic pedagogy. Instructors, in Socratic style, endeavor to bring out the knowledge students have within.  Students are invited to take part in a mutually enhancing on-going conversation that challenges the mind and awakens the search for more knowledge. The model of the Platonic academy is still alive and relevant in the third millennium.

For more information about the academic field of philosophy, visit the website of the American Philosophical Society