Anthropology's central aims are to describe and interpret human behavior both in the present and the past. Through a combination of classroom instruction and field work, BYU’s Anthropology Program has a long history of training students in current methods and theory and teaching them the critical analysis skills necessary for many careers. Department faculty research spans time and the globe, which provides a variety of opportunities for students to participate in mentored research in subjects and regions of their interest.
On July 1, 1945, Howard S. McDonald became the fifth president of Brigham Young University. One of his first official acts was the founding of a permanent chair of archaeology, and M. Wells Jakeman received the first appointment. Archaeology as a regular academic department came into being late in 1946.
The conceptual framework upon which the Department’s program was built is further brought out in a statement appearing on October 28, 1960 (Christensen 1960, SEHA Newsletter, 69.1).
"Archaeology is as comprehensive as the total history of all ancient civilization. What BYU should do, therefore, is to incorporate within its program all the main archaeological areas of the world. The principles and methods of the science should also be emphasized. In a word, this university should devote itself to the whole science of archaeology. These concepts have, in fact, been those which have guided the development of the BYU Department of Archaeology from the beginning."