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Native American & Indigenous Studies Courses

NAIS Minor

In May of 2014, the School of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee and Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania approved a new inter-disciplinary Minor in the field of Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS). Minors at Penn are intended to: enable students to develop knowledges and skills that can complement their major; pursue additional fields of in-depth study beyond the major; express themselves in a different discipline; explore an emerging intellectual field; gain experience in applying specific methods and theories; and/or learn about particular ethnicities, cultures, and heritages.

Students interested in pursuing the NAIS Minor can follow the links on this page for more information.

To download a pdf file with past and present NAIS course descriptions, see:
NAIS New Course Descriptions 2022-23.pdf

To register for the NAIS Minor, contact the NAIS Coordinator:

For information on other Minors available for study at Penn, see: List of Minors

Overview of NAIS Courses

The University of Pennsylvania currently offers about 30 courses with Native American and Indigenous content across 7 different departments. Several of these courses include dense content focusing almost exclusively on Native American and First Nations peoples in North America. Other courses offer sections focusing on Indigenous peoples and issues in diverse worldwide locales, from diverse disciplinary perspectives. 

Some NAIS courses are cross-listed or can be applied towards other requirements of the College. Examples include: Ethnohistory of the Native Northeast (History and Anthropology); Performing Culture (Cultural Diversity); Facing America (Art and History); and Public Policy, Museums, and the Ethics of Cultural Heritage (Anthropology and History). Other NAIS courses offer foundational knowledge that is central to a particular discipline, but can also be very useful across disciplines. Examples include: Indigenous Language and Language Revitalization (Education); and Language in Native America (Linguistics). Several new NAIS courses are currently in development; please check back for more information.

Note: The NAIS roster of courses is in a period of transition, since some faculty have retired and some courses are temporarily unavailable. In the interim, we encourage interested students to take other related courses, which can be accommodated as substitutions (contact the NAIS Coordinator with any questions).

Fall 2023 NAIS-Related Courses:


Anthropology 1410: Public Policy, Museums & the Ethics of Cultural Heritage

Dr. Richard Leventhal     Tuesday & Thursday 1:45 – 3:15 pm

This course will focus upon and examine the ethics of international heritage and the role that Museums play in the preservation of identity and cultural heritage. The mission of this course will be to inform and educate students about the role of Museums within the 21st century. What is the role and position of antiquities and important cultural objects in Museums? How should Museums acquire these objects and when should they be returned to countries and cultural groups? Examples from current issues will be included in the reading and discussions along with objects and issues within the Penn Museum.