Social and Cultural Anthropology has always aimed to explore the diversity of human cultures and social formations through ethnographic research that takes a comparative approach towards creating knowledge.
While this overall aim remains, both the means and the focus have changed in recent years, for the worlds that anthropologists study have changed radically, as have the relations between those worlds. The research conducted in our discipline focuses, for example, on politics of borders, global migration, natural resource politics, religious change and new meanings in music and communications technologies.
The fundamental goal of anthropological research is to examine micro-level social life as well as global-level phenomena from a comparative point of view, thereby continuously expanding the boundaries of the researcher’s previous competence.
In the teaching of anthropology at the University of Helsinki, a strong emphasis is placed on the tradition of fieldwork research through which modern anthropology is connected to the central questions and issues of sciences concerned with culture, society and human behaviour. Anthropological studies cover an extensive range of research traditions and the philosophical and theoretical questions which have been asked throughout the history of the discipline. The purpose of the programme is to ensure that every student becomes acquainted with the research fields of modern anthropology, its research methods and ethnographic studies across the globe.
A major part of the expertise accruing from anthropological studies is the competence to work in a wide range of different fields and professional environments, along with the ability to come up with solutions to unpredictable problems in any situation. In addition to finding positions in diverse research initiatives, anthropologists are employed in international organizations and government administration and as cultural experts in the corporate world, and they have found niches in fields such as journalism and other communication media. Anthropologists are required as teachers both in universities and other educational institutions, and they are in particular demand in non-government organizations, museums, and welfare bodies.