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Since its inception in the late 1960s, anthropology instruction at Purdue has taken a four-field approach to the discipline. This approach provides instruction in each of the standard fields of anthropology in the United States:

Instruction emphasizes the connections and overlaps among these fields, with faculty regularly teaching material outside of their own specialty areas. The program aims to outfit students with a sense of the integration of culture and biology, of diversity and assimilation, of past and present, and of continuity and change in the making of the human experience.