What does it mean to be human? That question is answered in the study of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of the various human cultures in the world throughout history into present-day. According to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, anthropology "emphasizes comparing human groups to understand the range of variation in human behavior and biology, and therefore considers what it is to be human." Understanding the origin and history of human beings is important to also understand global cultures and communities. Anthropology looks at shared aspects of humanity like language, cultural connections, economics and curiosity to find the common thread.
Anthropology is made up of several branches of study. Linguistic anthropology studies languages and how they have developed and evolved over time. This is important in helping to understand how one language relates to another and how humans have communicated with one another over time. Through the study of linguistic anthropology, anthropologists are able to explain the links between languages and the differences in the ways that various human cultures use and manipulate words and language.
The people of one culture might have regular practices that the people of another culture would find distasteful or strange. For instance, in some cultures the people eat meat from animals that are considered pets in other cultures. In order to bridge the gap between varying cultures, anthropologists study and explain cultural practices for similarities and differences.
In today's world, people of varying cultures communicate and do business with one another on a regular basis. Anthropology's existence is vital to the business world for this reason. Through the study of anthropology, a business executive in the United States can learn about the traditions and values of the Japanese culture before he visits Japan for a business trip. In learning about the culture, he can then better prepare himself for a visit that results in successful business dealings while he is there.
There are other disciplines that study humanity. Biology studies the human body, history studies the actions of past human cultures and literature studies the writings of various people. However, each of these disciplines provides only a small window of understanding into the world of humanity. Anthropology combines these disciplines in a holistic study of humans and the place of humans in the world. In this sense, anthropology is important because of its ability to synthesize the learning of other disciplines into one comprehensive picture of what it means to be human.
Humans are innately curious creatures that seek to find out their origin point, evolution as a species and future patterns in their lives. A big part of human nature is also wanting to know how other people are similar to and different from the community around them. Anthropology helps to answers those queries for humanity as it gives a solid picture of human origins and blends together the various human cultures into one large journey of connected humanity. In doing so, it can also help in finding an understanding about where cultures might go future with future trend predictions based on past growth and progress.