Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Karen Weinstein




This thesis examines how higher academia is moving to becoming more diverse and inclusive through a case study of the institutional changes of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA). As higher academia reacts to and with the greater social climate of the culture it exists in, an association like this can give insight into how groups can progress and be more supportive of their current members while bringing in people from different backgrounds to better themselves and their science. After the preliminary vote of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists to change its name, I began looking into the greater issues at hand within the association. As the AAPA studies humans, it is understandable that they are more aware of the concerns in the field of biological anthropology, but what does that mean in the greater context of higher academia? In my thesis, I explore the central reasons for the name change and how they relate to the country’s social climate. I different sources of literature over the importance of the word biological versus physical and work to answer the question, “what’s in a name?.” I also conducted interviews with current biological anthropology graduate students in order to get a feel for the direction the AAPA could be moving towards. At the heart of the thesis is my time at the 88th Annual AAPA Conference in Cleveland where I got a better understanding of the culture of biological anthropology. From there, I analyze the importance of mentorship and provide suggestions through three different lenses. These lenses are mentorship for undergraduate students, mentorship for graduate students, and mentorship and allies in cases of sexual harassment and assault. Finally, I look at the next steps that will be taken towards the final name change vote in 2020 where the association will hopefully become the American Association of Biological Anthropologists.