Connor Griffiths '21 is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and minoring in Anthropology. He is interested in Medical Anthropology and hopes to think like an anthropologist in any and all spaces he occupies. He shares his experiences and advice as he prepares for graduation.
What is your major?
I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a focus on Public Health.
What inspired you to minor in Anthropology? Do you have a specific area of interest?
Before coming to Cornell, I did not know much about Anthropology. In all of my classes (including those in Agriculture, Sociology, and even Animal Science!) I realized there was one united thing that excited me: the people I was learning about in each of these disciplines. This inspired me to try out a few Anthropology courses in my sophomore year, and I’ve been taking classes in the department since. What has inspired me most to pursue the minor is the interdisciplinary nature of Anthropology at Cornell and its applicability to every other field I’ve studied here. While I am particularly interested in Medical Anthropology, I’ve taken classes in other areas as well. This semester, I am taking Anthropology of Climate Change, which has opened my eyes to an entirely new view of our natural world and the crises it faces.
Do you have any favorite classes or have there been professors who have influenced your studies?
One of my favorite classes has been Medicine, Culture, and Society with Professor Saida Hodžić. This was my formal introduction to Anthropology at Cornell, and it has continued to inform much of my academic and professional development throughout my time here. I am grateful to Professor Hodžić for providing me and fellow students with a lens through which to read and critically evaluate medicine and medical intervention in the US and abroad. In my final semester, I have been fortunate to take Anthropology of Climate Change with a new professor, Dr. Chloe Ahmann, who has offered us new ways to understand and grapple with environmental issues and environmental justice. The cross-disciplinary nature of the Anthropology department at Cornell has given me an opportunity to explore my interests, new and old, and examine the places where these might overlap and complement one another.
Do you have any advice for students considering a minor in Anthropology?
Do it! Anthropology will challenge you to think in new ways, and will provide you an opportunity to explore whatever academic program you are pursuing in a fresh light. The Department of Anthropology offers courses for everyone, no matter your interest— try one out if you can! A professor recently told me that, in Anthropology, your goal does not have to be to become an anthropologist. Instead, your goal should be to “think like an anthropologist” in whatever you end up pursuing. The minor will give you not only the skills to do so, but the space to practice those skills.
In the foreseeable future, I plan to advance my academic and/or professional development in the field of public health by either pursuing a graduate degree or working in public health programming or research. In whichever path I choose, I hope to draw on my experiences in the Cornell Anthropology program, take anthropology classes if I can, and continue to think like an anthropologist in any and all spaces I occupy.
What do you think you'll miss most about Cornell/Ithaca after graduation?
I will definitely miss the sunsets on the slope and walks around Beebe lake (especially in the early-fall and late-spring). I, too, will miss the stories that my professors and peers have shared pertaining to their respective journeys to where they are today. I’ve learned so many wonderful things beyond what I’ve been taught in classes, and I will forever be grateful to my Cornell experience for that.