The University of Iowa

In the news: UI Anthropology Department celebrates 50 years of education, research

February 21st, 2020

Mary Hartel, The Daily Iowan

As the University of Iowa Anthropology Department prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, a series of guest speakers and faculty are reflecting on the program’s evolution and looking toward the future.

When department leaders realized it was approaching an anniversary a year ago, UI Anthropology Professor and Department Chair Katina Lillios made it her mission to honor the landmark achievement after she assumed leadership in August 2019. The series of events will kick off soon on Feb. 28.

With globalization and a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, an understanding of people and culture remains critical, she said.

“Anthropology is kind of a holistic study of human cultures and behaviors of the past and the present,” Lillios said.

Lillios added that many different people were involved with the founding of the UI department, which used to be joint with sociology. A primary force in its foundation, she said, was former UI Professor June Helm, president of the American Anthropological Association.

Since then, the department has evolved rapidly to include all four disciplines of anthropology — cultural, biological, linguistic, and archeological.

UI anthropology Professor Emeritus Michael Chibnik focuses on cultural anthropology and began at the UI in 1978.

“Over time, the department has had different specialties depending on who’s here,” Chibnik said.