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 topics such as: the politics of border areas; state formation, climate change, and migration; the development of social cognition in culturally different contexts; and religious movements, secularism and the ethical and moral questions connected to them.
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.
The teaching of anthropology at the University of Helsinki emphasizes the tradition of field research as a means to address central questions and issues regarding culture, society and human behaviour. Anthropological studies cover an extensive range of research traditions and engage the philosophical and theoretical questions which have defined 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.
Anthropological studies prepare students to work in a wide range of fields and professional environments, and anthropological training helps students to excel at problem-solving in unpredictable situations. In addition to careers in research, anthropologists are employed in international organizations, government administration and as cultural experts in the corporate world. They have found niches in fields such as journalism and other communication media. Anthropologists are also required as teachers in universities and other educational institutions, and they are in particular demand in non-government organizations, museums, and welfare bodies.