In April 2016, the Iowa Board of Regents approved the merger of our Department with the Department of Anthropology. We sat down with Dr. Chad M. Gasta and Dr. Maximilian Viatori III to learn about this exciting event and where the new department will be heading in the future.
GASTA: This positive vote by the Regents – and before that the ISU Faculty Senate – is great news for us. We’ve been working on the merger for over two years now, and it’s exciting to be able to move on to the next stage of integrating Anthropology into the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
VIATORI: Combining the two departments was so logical because we already have a great deal in common – in what we research and teach. Anthropology is concerned with what it means to be human through the study of culture and society, the biology and evolution of humans and other primates, and through the study of human communities and material culture. And WLC already works in many of these same areas, although from different angles.
GASTA: So we are aligned really well in this focus on the interpretation and mediation of culture in diverse historical, social, and (trans-)national contexts. And I think we are lucky to include the biological sciences – our new biological anthropology colleagues expand our department in an exciting new direction. I think this makes us unique in that we are the only department at ISU that combines the social sciences, humanities, and the biological sciences under one roof. This combination positions us really well for a future that is increasingly interdisciplinary.
VIATORI: For our part, the Anthropology section feels like the merger already is (and will more so in the future) creating a stronger department. We look forward to creating interesting connections in our undergraduate and graduate instruction and collaborating on innovative research.
GASTA: Exactly, there are so many possibilities here. A lot of WLC faculty research is in cultural studies, so work in cultural anthropology feels very familiar. Anthropological, linguistic, and classical archeology have clear connections and, of course, world languages are an important component to almost all of our work. We also work with many interdisciplinary areas of study from American Indian Studies to International Studies to Classical studies and h U.S. Latino/a Studies. So the merger just seemed to be a natural progression of sorts.
VIATORI: In the end, this is a win for faculty, students, and the University. The new WLC will be the hub for the study of humankind at ISU.