School of Anthropology and Conservation recognised as top-ten place to study Anthropology in the UK

First-year students in front of the Eiffel Tower
  "Students in front of the Eiffel Tower on an Anthropology field trip to Paris" by University of Kent.

It is always important to celebrate one’s successes, so we are delighted to announce that the School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) has been ranked within the top ten universities in the UK to study Anthropology according to The Guardian. We are proud that the School, with its excellent academic and support staff, is being appreciated for all the hard work undertaken within it. SAC is unique in mixing together Anthropology, both Biological and Social, with Human Geography and Conservation, allowing students to explore wider, complementary themes than if they were limited to just a single subject.

Our academic staff are all active researchers, with their work being at the cutting edge of major debates in areas such as evolutionary anthropology. Recent research investigating human evolution, such as the function and cell biology of human deciduous teeth, nestles alongside the study of primates, a recent project identifying the social and cultural influences that shape chimpanzee tool-use. From a social anthropology perspective, recent research topics include, but are not limited to, corruption, workplace environments, indigenous urbanisation and human rights, with fieldwork taking place worldwide. With all programmes taught by active researchers, this allows students to interact with, and learn from, a constantly evolving curriculum, ensuring they are at the forefront of their topics.

In hearing the news, Dr Judith Bovensiepen, Senior Lecturer and Academic Head of Social Anthropology, said, “It’s wonderful news that we are in the top ten of Anthropology departments in the UK. I was especially happy to see that almost 90% of our students are satisfied with our teaching!

“I think Kent is a great place to study anthropology, not just because you learn about the whole breadth of the human experience, from a biological and a social angle, but also because it’s one of the only places where there are specialisms in both political and environmental crises. I think we can see more and more that the core challenges that face our world today cannot be understood by looking at just a single dimension. To make the world a better place, we really need to have a holistic understanding of how social and environmental problems are intertwined.”

The School boasts a wide range of facilities, including six laboratories dedicated to different specialisms within anthropology. We were also recently awarded a £250k grant from the Wolfson Foundation to equip a new Imaging Centre for the Life Sciences in the School. This will be housed within our walls, but also benefit research across the university, raising the esteem of the School and Kent nationwide. Both undergraduate and postgraduate students will be able to work in this new centre under the guidance of Kent’s internationally renowned researchers.

Professor of Biological Anthropology, Tracy Kivell, Head of School commented, “As Head of School and a biological anthropologist myself, I’m absolutely delighted that our School has been recognised by The Guardian as being in the top ten for Anthropology.  Anthropology is a diverse discipline broadly focused on better understanding what it means to be human. We are distinct within the UK in having experts in numerous areas of this discipline, ranging from the study of living human populations from local Canterbury to East Timor and Panama, to the complexities of political and humanitarian crises, and in forensic anthropology, primatology and the study of our fossil ancestors.

“We are also unique in sharing our School with Human Geography and the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE), allowing our students to explore environmental anthropology from a variety of different perspectives. All of our lecturers take pride in providing the best, innovative, research-lead teaching to our students and I’m delighted that this has now been recognised with our top ten ranking.”

Furthermore, the School prides itself on its community and welcomes everyone to be a part of it. With events being held to allows students to socialise with their peers and academics, and to learn from an even wider range of speakers, SAC is dedicated to every student’s university experience. A recent highlight was the visit from renowned anthropologist Dame Jane Goodall, who brought most of the audience to tears with her lecture, ‘Gombe and Beyond: Chimpanzees, conservation and change’.

The School also ensures that students are able to go on many field trips, which help them both achieve hands-on experience and forge deeper friendships with their coursemates. Undergraduates who recently went on a field trip to a forest reserve in Uganda described it as an “experience that will stay with us forever”, one shared by many alumni who have come to study Anthropology at Kent since the university was founded in 1965.

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