FHSS student wins BYU’s 3MT Competition!

In 2008, Queensland University started hosting a competition titled 3MT (Three Minute Thesis). “An 80,000-word PhD thesis would take nine hours to present. Their time limit…three minutes,” reads the inaugural university’s website for the event.  The program has since spread to several universities worldwide and last year was BYU’s inaugural event for graduate students.

This year, a student from FHSS won BYU’s campus-wide competition!

Psychology PhD student Elizabeth Passey took 1st place for her research on why teenagers binge drink and was awarded $5,000. Passey also took 1st place in the college-level competition.

why do teenagers binge drink

Jessica Simpson, an Anthropology Master’s student, took second place at the college level. She studied how wear patterns can determine the function of ceramic vessels.

ceramic vessel function

Social Work student Candi Child-Illum took third place at the college level with her research on human trafficking.

human traffikingCongratulations to Candi, Jessica, and Elizabeth! Visit BYU’s Three Minute Thesis website for more information on the competition.

Halloween Costumes Based on Your Majors and Minors

It’s that time of year again, where we get to dress up as our favorite characters, monsters, or people. There are so many options that it can be hard to pick your costume. To remedy that, here are costume ideas based on your FHSS major or minor.

History or Women’s Studies

Last year, History professor Ed Stratford hosted two “dead debates,” which were fun events in which various professors acted as “resuscitated” dead U.S. presidents and queens and debated modern political and gender issues. Watch this “Between Two Ferns” parody trailers for the Dead Queens Debate for costume ideas:



Embrace your inner explorer and dress up as Christopher Columbus! To dress like him, you would need:

  • baggy pants, tucked into
  • white knee socks
  • floppy hat
  • long sleeved shirt
  • Long, plain vest

For some ideas on how to create simple spyglasses out of paper cups, check out this post. To see some of the maps the geography department has made of the nation, click here.

Adobe Spark (16)


Dressing up like an anthropology major would be very easy, if this post is any indication.

Political Science

Abraham Lincoln or any current or past American president are just a few of the options available for political science students. Here are instructions for creating President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat.

For updates on the political science department, check out their blog.

Halloween doesn’t have to be hard; there are a plethora of people you can dress up as. So why not show some academic pride and dress up as someone from your major or minor?

Photo credits: Christopher Columbus.

Students: Five Ways to Stay Sharp This Summer

Summer may be for lazy days and having fun with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning! Here are 5 ways to stay sharp and have fun this summer!

Find Your Club!

Even though clubs aren’t very active during the Spring and Summer, you can still sort through them at BYU’s clubs’ website and pick which one you want to join in Fall/Winter! Here are some quick links to more information about clubs within our college:

Courtesy of BYU Refugee Empowerment Club’s Facebook page

Visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures!

Learn all about ancient and more modern civilizations at this museum. Current exhibits include Piecing Together Paquimé, which features the remnants of the city from A.D. 1200-1450, and Steps in Style, which features shoes from a plethora of cultures and time periods.

Courtesy of the MPC Facebook page

Hit up the Library!

Here at BYU, we have one of the best libraries ever! It’s full of cool rooms and exhibits and awesome movies and books. So take time this summer to explore the HBLL and find some great books! Highlights of the HBLL include:

Courtesy of the HBLL Facebook page

Brush up on your Writing Skills

Whether you’re taking classes this summer or not, you can always improve your writing. FHSS’ Writing Lab offers many tools both on-campus and online to help you with that. Take a few moments to brush up on these skills, so you don’t have to do it in the middle of trying to meet a million assignment deadlines:

  • Formatting a paper Turabian style
  • Structuring your paper
  • Writing a conclusion
  • Citing APA style


Watch YouTube Videos!

Did you know that FHSS has two YouTube channels? Every other week, we post videos about the intricacies of daily life and how to live within them.

What are your summer plans?

Museum of Peoples and Cultures Ranked Among Top 50 College Museums

BYU is known around the world for it sports and top notch law and business school. But, did you know it’s also renowned for its museums? College Values Online recently ranked BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures on their list of the “50 Most Impressive College Museums 2017-2018.” 

Courtesy of the MPC Facebook Page

BYU’s museum specializes in artifacts of the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic varieties,” said the online college ranking company, who selected those top 50 out of hundreds of college museums in the US based on the breadth of their permanent collections and whether or not they included recognizable artifacts that could successfully appeal to a variety of audiences . “Highlights include shell necklaces from Polynesia and pottery from the American Southwest, though hundreds of countries and cultures are represented here. The museum also offers dozens of programs and classes offered each month for museum visitors of all ages.”

Current exhibits at the MPC include Steps in Style, featuring shoes from various countries and eras, and Piecing Together Paquime, which takes visitors on an archaeological journey through an ancient Paquime city. The museum will also be hosting upcoming summer camps, as well as these activities:

  • Date nights
  • Merit Badge Blitz
  • Museum camps
  • FHS nights
  • Mommy Meet Up
  • Utah Lake Festival

The museum also lends out culture cases containing educational materials to classes in order to further anthropological learning. 

steps in style
Courtesy of the MPC website

 The Mission

 The mission of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is: “to serve the academic mission of BYU and care for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic collections in the custody of the University. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is BYU’s Teaching Museum, inspiring students to life-long learning and service and mentoring them in collections-focused activities that reinforce BYU ideals of education as spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building. These activities concurrently serve the scholarly community, the LDS community, and/or the general public and aspire to the highest standards of stewardship and public trust.”  The museum fulfills their mission in the following ways:

  • Gathering and maintaining artifacts
  • Providing an educational setting for BYU students
  • “Facilitating teaching and research on peoples and cultures by BYU faculty, staff, students, and by members of the scholarly community in peer institutions”
  • Utilizing research, exhibitions, and activities to formulate new knowledge
  • Teaching people about cultures and peoples


mpc 2
Courtesy of the MPC website

 The museum was formed shortly after the Archaeology Department was instituted in 1946. It has been housed in numerous buildings over the years, including the Maesar Building, the Eyring Science Center, and the Academy Building. (Currently, the Provo library.) Aside from its inclusion in College Values Online’s list, the museum has the been the recipient of a plethora of awards and grants including a State Certificate Award for Excellence in All Areas of Museum Operations and the 2011 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Since 2000, the MPC has received over $250,000 in federal and state grants for various research projects. In the same time period, $1.5 million in object and cash donations have significantly increased the quality of the collections.

With its rich events and creative exhibitions, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is truly an educational and anthropological treasure that all BYU staff, alumni, and students can be proud of, and that the public can enjoy.

Have you been to the MPC?

BYU Museum Day Camp for Teenagers Offers Unique Perspective

For the first time ever, BYU will offer a summer day camp for teenagers who want to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of its museums. Youth ages 13 to 15 who are interested in museums, museum careers, art, paleontology, anthropology, or biology will enjoy this camp. During either of two four-day sessions the second or third full weeks of June 2017, they will have a number of opportunities to expand their skills in

  • Critical thinking
  • Design thinking
  • Writing and english
  • Science
  • Creativity and art

The camps will involve the Museums of Art, Paleontology, Peoples and Cultures, and the Bean Life Science Museum.

museum camp
Courtesy of MPC’s Facebook event page

Kari Ross Nelson, Curator of Education at BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures, says: “We’ve been cultivating the idea of a Museum Camp for a while, so we’re excited to see it happening.  We’re excited to have all the Museums on BYU Campus working together for great variety throughout the week.” Instead of screen time, participants will have immersive, hands-on time seeing live animal shows, creating their own exhibits, tie-dying their camp shirts, and replicating fossils. The camp costs $139 which covers lunch, snacks, classroom supplies, a T-shirt, field trips, and teaching.

Jessica Simpson, a graduate student studying Archaeology and one of the camp’s staff members, provides her perspective on this unique opportunity: “Campers will have fun seeing what no one else sees from the perspective of museum professionals.” Go to museum.ce.byu.edu for more information and registration.

What’s your favorite on-campus museum?



Fulton Anthropology 1st Place Winner: Telisha Pantelakis Researches Hmong People

There is a group of people, the Hmong, originally from southeast Asia and China, that found themselves somewhat like the Syrian refugees of today, spread all over the world. Persecution, cultural traditions, shifting agricultural practices, and political strife drove them to migrate to America, China, French Guiana, Laos, Australia, Vietnam, France, Thailand, Argentina, and Canada, in what is called the Hmong Diaspora. Those few Hmong that stayed in China were classified for years as “miao,” a vague census category used to classify all strange and backward looking non-Han people in southern China.” Today, Hmong in countries other than their own “see double,” as American-born Hmong Mai Der Vang said in a 2011 Washington Post editorial: “Somewhere in my American identity, in my fluent

Picture courtesy of Luis Mata on Flickr.

English and Western clothing, in my reliance on technology and my college degree, the exile lives in me, too.  Writer Andre Aciman says, ‘Exiles see double, feel double, are double. When exiles see one place, they’re also seeing – or looking for – another behind it.’” Brigham Young University Anthropology student Telisha Pantelakis presented anthropological research she had completed about the Hmong population in France, and the ways in which they “saw double” medically speaking, at our recent Fulton Conference. Her poster won first place at the conference in the Anthropology category.

Medicine and the Hmong

“Current U.S. literature has attributed Hmong difficulties adapting to Western culture, specifically health care from shamanic practices,” said Pantelakis and her co-author Madison Harmer. “[That literature] claims that traditional and western healing practices are incompatible. While living in a small town in central France, we conducted an ethnographic study observing Hmong refugees and their interactions and beliefs between traditional healing practices and Western medicine to explore this claim.” Why did Pantelakis and Harmer choose this topic? She says: “…It was interesting to me how a South East Asian migration group ended up in France. I did some research, and was captivated by Hmong history. They are a people without a country, yet have been able to keep their culture thriving wherever they go. I wanted to learn more, especially about their traditional healing methods and shamanism.”

Her Research

Telisha got her wish. Through her research she discovered that there was no disparity between the traditional and modern medicines. Hmong healer and shaman VanMeej Thoj said: “You must take medicine first. You must be somewhat well, then you can go see a shaman and he can see why you’re sick.” This attitude is in direct contrast to previous reports on the Asian clan’s culture.  Before beginning her study, she had to read a plethora of research on the Hmong people and their relationship with contemporary medical practices. She says, “I went to France and saw that not only were Hmong ‘model minorities’, but that they utilized the medical system without issues.”

Her poster was titled “Collision or Cohesion? Hmong Shamanism and Ontological Holism in France.” Mentored by Professor Jacob Hickman, she, along with her co-author Madison Harmer studied how the Hmong culture meshed their traditional medicinal practices with modern ones.

anthro 1st place


When asked what she hoped would happen as a result of her research, Telisha replied: “I really think it is a unique opportunity to add to the literature pool on a [lesser]-known population. Dr. Hickman is hoping eventually to compile all his research into a website of sorts in order to make information available to Hmong individuals as well. To Hmong individuals whom I lived with last summer, it would be exciting for them to see that their history is being recorded through academic articles as well. They were so willing to share their stories with us, because in their French community they had never had people come to study their culture before. They want to share their culture with everyone.”

What’s Next?

What’s next for Telisha and her research? She and Harmer presented their research at a national conference in New Mexico in March of 2017, and are preparing to present again at the American Anthropological Association national conference in Washington D.C. this Fall. Currently, she and professor Jacob Hickman are writing a paper based on her findings which they hope to have in the process of publication by the year’s end.

The Fulton Conference

The Fulton Conference was an invaluable experience for the Anthropology student. She described her experience in the following words: “I loved it! I’m so glad our professors let us know of the opportunity. It gave us a chance to gain some experience with poster presentations, as I have only ever given oral presentations at conferences previously. I am grateful to the Fultons for providing this opportunity for students to share their research while getting to network with students from other majors and enjoying a delicious meal. I will definitely do it again next year.”

Did you or will you participate in the Fulton Conference?

Shallit Lecture: Medieval Castles and Political Ecology

Though we live in what we consider “modern” times, we don’t have to look much farther past a Google search of wars today or the evening news to read about the armed, systemic conflicts that still grip our societies. Wars and political unrest may be thought of just the purview of the Middle Ages, with their iconic castles, wars, and disease, but they are still a part of modern life. Could an analysis of medieval castles, then, shed light on the politics of today? Dr. Matthew Johnson of Northwestern University says that they “controlled, delimited, and defined flows—flows of things, of animals, and of people—circulating in and around the castle and its context,” so it’s possible that they could.


The Event

On March 21 at 3pm in room 1060 in the HBLL, Dr. Johnson, who is from Northwestern University, will give a presentation titled: “Towards a Political Ecology of the Medieval Castle.” Of this topic, he says, “Traditional, culture-historical approaches have stressed [the castle’s] military role and function.  More recently, influenced by theoretical trends, scholars have discussed the castle’s social and symbolic role, the castle as a stage setting for elite identities and practices.” This is precisely what Dr. Johnson will be centering his remarks on: “I focus on how the castle and its surrounding landscape work to control, delimit and define flows — flows of things, of animals, and of people, circulating in and around the castle and its context.”

According to BYU Anthropology, who will sponsor the event, the intended audience are those affiliated with the department and anyone else who is interested in the topic. They “hope the audience enjoys the event and learns something new about the subject!”

Why Study the Middle Ages?

alnwick-castle-castle-alnwick-northumberland-68683But why is studying the Middle Ages- medieval times- important? Weren’t they a barbaric time where everyone died from disease and warfare? Absolutely not! The Bonnie Wheeler Fund website characterizes the era as one of change: “The late period [of the Middle Ages] included the rise of the university system of education and an explosion of artistic expression and architectural innovation, particularly in the construction of cathedrals and castles. It is in this period as well that we see the rise of urban life and the development of a middle class.” All of these innovations are directly affecting us today.

One can argue that we need the Middle Ages to fully understand our own political situation. “In this time of geo-political unrest, we have powerful lessons to learn from events of the Middle Ages,” according to the Bonnie Wheeler Fund website. Understanding the dynamics Middle Ages can help us understand our current position.

pexels-photo-208562 Dr. Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is a professor and graduate advisor in the Anthropology Department of Northwestern University. His research is directed to theory and British and European societies from AD 1200-AD 1800. The archaeologist recently completed a field study at places in southern England, including Bodiam Castle. Johnson has also written a plethora of books:  Behind the Castle Gate:  From Medieval to Renaissance and  Archaeological Theory:  An Introduction to name only a few.

What’s your favorite era of history?


How to Dress Like an Anthropology Major

Ah! Fall 2016! Back to school means new classes, roommates, and of course a new wardrobe. Walk into all of your courses ready to learn and looking good! A few days ago, we shared tips for History majors on how to dress. Now, for our anthropology majors, who are preparing to do ethnographic research and field studies and write papers, here are a few tips:

Wear Comfortable Shoes

What better way to start off your new wardrobe than with a new pair of shoes? You’ll be doing a lot of walking around campus and at dig sites. Make sure your shoes are sturdy and comfortable.

Get Sun Protection


Don’t forget your sunscreen, flannel, baseball cap, and even long pants, to keep the sun out of your eyes, off your extremities, and leave you burn free.

Recorder and Camera

Instead of trying to write down every word and missing the experience, invest in recorders and a camera! Snap quick pictures during your ethnographic journeys. And record your conversations, thoughts, and other interactions so you can remember and write them up later!


trail mix.jpg

What more could you possibly need? Snacks are life savers during long team meetings and keep you full of energy on late nights writing papers! Keep a stash with you and your stomach and peers will thank you.


Backpack, backpack! Keep all of your notebooks, pens, recorders, camera, sunscreen,  and of course snacks in a backpack! It’ll keep your hands free and you’ll always be ready to go!


Good luck Anthropology Majors! And don’t forget your “I ❤ Anthropology” t-shirt!


5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Anthropology

Our world is shrinking, so to speak. It’s now possible to send communication to the other side of the world in an instant, and perhaps even more impressive, to physically travel to the other side of the world in a matter of hours. Our ancestors could have never imagined the heights to which humanity would soar. With interaction between societies becoming ever more frequent, it becomes ever more important to study human society in all its forms—past and present. That’s why anthropology, the study of human cultures and civilizations, is more important now than ever before. Last week, we ran a detailed article about why children should be interested about anthropology. This week, with the help of BYU’s Department of Anthropology, we’ll share some tips for how to actually get our kids excited.

Field Dig.JPG

Tip #1: Take Your Kids to a Local Dig

You can take your kids to a local field school dig. Your older kids can even volunteer! There’s nothing like seeing an actual dig, helping to sift out the relics, and relating it to people who were here long ago. Contact the department (801.422.3058) to find out when the next local one is, and to arrange a guide!

All of BYU’s Anthropology majors are required to attend a faculty-supervised field school. They conduct digs to learn more about ancient civilizations, sometimes right here in our own backyard! There are digs in Goshen and on the shores of Utah Lake.

Tip #2: Visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures


The Museum of Peoples and Cultures, on the campus of Brigham Young University, cares for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic artifacts in the school’s possession. There may be no better way to inspire a child than to take him or her to this vast collection of exhibits.

Currently, the museum has a couple of special exhibits, including one focused on the archaeology of the historic Provo Tabernacle (now the Provo City Center Temple), and a detailed exploration of the fine textiles of the ancient Andes.

The museum holds plenty of exciting programs for younger kids, and some of the older kids might not mind taking a date!

Tip #3: Arrange for an Anthropologist to Visit Your Child’s School

SearcyIf you have a child going into fourth grade this year, contact their school principal or teacher! They can put in a request to BYU’s Anthropology department for a school visit by faculty member Mike Searcy, who brings a unique and exciting perspective on anthropology, as well as several actual relics, to classrooms. Your kids will love it!



Tip #4: Check out a Culture Case

For only a small fee (which is waived for educators), you can borrow a Culture Case from BYU’s Department of Anthropology. These cases include artifacts, replicas, CDs, books, and other teaching tools to help children learn more about various cultures.

Culture Case Web Banner
Culture Case Web Banner

These detailed and informative cases are available for regions such as the Great Basin, the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Polynesia, Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, and many more!

Tip #5: Go to the Utah Lake Festival

The annual Utah Lake Festival in Provo is a great place to take children who are excited about anthropology. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures will have a booth and various activities available for children and families. Contact Utah Lake Commission Executive Assistant Noelia Deaton (801.851.2900, ndeaton@utahlakecommission.org) for more information!


Why Anthropology?



In a day and age when our exposure to and ability to interact with other cultures is unprecedented, where the world is shrinking, it can be easily argued that understanding and compassion are more important than ever. It is here that anthropology comes into play; to develop compassion towards other cultures, one starts by studying them, their pasts and presents. There is perhaps no better time to begin that study than when we are young. The younger a child is, the less they understand stereotypes. Exposing and teaching children to anthropology when they are little, will help them carry that lack of bias with them into adulthood.

“Anthropologists study every facet of the human experience and behavior, both past and present,” in BYU’s Department of Anthropology. Classified as a social science, it covers a wide range of geographical areas and time periods. Kari Nelson, Curator of Education at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, an anthropological resource for the community, says: “Being compassionate and kind are wonderful, but they are abstract. By applying the skills learned within the discipline, you can research your own family, your ancestors, and where you came from. This is a literal turning of the hearts.”countries-1295969_960_720

While taking children on a tour of the museum recently, Nelson stopped at a display of masks from another culture. Immediately, the children deemed them weird. She wondered: if they believed that about the masks, what would they think of the people who made them? It is to prevent experiences like these that children and youth need to study Anthropology. They need that understanding in order to live happily and to positively contribute in this world.

Skills Learned

Beyond developing understanding of other cultures, though, the study of anthropology can help kids develop a number of skills and traits that will be useful to them in all of their studies, and in their lives. These include:

  • analytical skills
  • detail orientation
  • self-motivation
  • good communication skills
  • good physical condition
  • patience

In addition, O*Net, an online database of occupational information, reports that these additional skills are acquired as one studies to become a professional anthropologist:

  • public speaking
  • active listening
  • critical thinking
  • reading comprehension
  • scientific understanding
  • writing
  • active learning
  • complex problem solving
  • judgment and decision making
  • social perceptiveness
  • systems analysis
  • time management

ScienceBuddies.org, an online resource for parents and teachers of anthropology and other sciences, reports that the median salary of an anthropologist is over $59,000 annually.


All of this being said, parents and students may struggle to know about all of the resources available to them to build interest in and understanding of anthropology. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is an excellent starting point. Watch our site for another post in the near future about specific resources and strategies available to them.