Anthropology Club brings awareness to humans’ impact on Earth

By Anastasia Landeros

Anthropology Club President Jonathan Salas wants his club to be the biggest one on campus.

“The reason I want us to be one of the biggest clubs is because I think, with the members we have at the moment, and especially with the amazing advisers we have, I think we can truly make an impact on the student body,” he said.

Professor Christine Sepulveda, the club’s co-adviser, says that that impact can translate to any discipline and lifestyle.

“Everything that we do matters,” she said. “And I think Anthropology helps people realize that. … We’re all citizens of the world and we need to work together for our survival, now more so than ever.”

The club’s mission statement, “ELAC Anthropology Club seeks to apply the diversity and knowledge of Anthropology to empower students to build a more humane, equitable, and united world,” cements its leaders’ sentiments.

As part of the need to make students aware of Anthropology’s connection to all aspects of life, its activity list includes lectures and trips aimed at educating members on the world around them.

One of the first activities club members participated in was an interdisciplinary camping trip to the Santa Monica mountains that included students from the Anthropology, Geography and Geology departments.

Only those Anthropology students who were members of the club were permitted to attend.

Professor Randall “Randy” Adsit of the Geology Department provided the group with a full itinerary of key locations to explore.

The club also took a trip to the Natural History Museum, which led to the discovery that their early-man exhibit was incomplete.

Sepulveda said she is currently looking into the possibility of the club sponsoring an update to the exhibit.

Events that the club has sponsored since its inception include guest-speaker lectures that touch on important topics surrounding anthropology.

Its first event, Salas said, focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how the most affected areas are still dealing with complications 12 years later.

The lecture “Post-Katrina New Orleans: Stories and Lessons” was presented by Sean Mallin, a junior fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine and managing editor of the American Anthropology Association’s journal “American Anthropology.”

The second club-sponsored lecture, “Animal, Commodity, Environment: Civets in the History of Indonesian Coffee,” will take place Friday and will be followed by a kopi luwak tasting.

Kopi luwak is coffee made from a bean that is digested, then expelled, by a civet, a cat-like mammal that lives in the tropical forests of Asia and Africa.

It will be presented by University of California, Irvine graduate student Colin Cahil.

These activities, said Salas, are organized to help educate students about anthropology, the study of human beings and a discipline that is partly considered a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major, depending on the chosen education route.

There are four main categories of Anthropology: linguistic, cultural, biological and archeological. Archeology and Biology are part of the STEM major, while linguistics and culture are part of the cultural major.

Salas said that the club also acts as an exploratory avenue for students interested in any of the Anthropology categories, but doesn’t know where to start.

Because the club aims to connect all aspects of the campus, vice president and Anthropology major Anthony Nieto encourages any student from any major to join.

“I don’t want people to be intimidated by us. You see ‘Anthropology Club’ and don’t even know what that is. I didn’t know what it was until I had to take the (Anthropology) class for my general education. … Everyone should feel welcome,” he said.

Sepulveda also encourages students from other disciplines to join because she believes taking students out of their typical environment helps them see the impact that their choices have on the natural order of the world around us.

“Helping people understand the importance of everything that happens on the planet is going to affect us one way or another.

“And Anthropology brings that to everyone, that understanding. So taking students out of the city and bringing them into a natural environment, showing them the connection we have with nature, they can actually see the impacts we have.

“They see the impacts of drought, of pollution. … What we’ve done to the planet itself and the effects on other living beings,” she said.

For more information on joining the Anthropology Club, email

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