Honors Society and Awards

Lambda Alpha Honors Society


Lambda Alpha is the national honors society for anthropologists. Its purposes are to promote interest in the study of anthropology as a university discipline, to recognize outstanding student performance, and to encourage scholarship and research in anthropology. Lambda Alpha was established nationally in 1965. Notre Dame became the Beta Chapter of Indiana in 1981. A detailed information sheet is available in the departmental office.


Membership is by election of:

  1. an already established chapter, requiring a majority vote of the membership under the supervision of at least one chapter faculty member or
  2. by a committee of faculty members in conformity with processes approved by the local chapter, Beta of Indiana.
Under the same by-laws for membership, undergraduates must:
  1. be currently enrolled in an academic program
  2. have completed not less than 18 credit hours in anthropology and
  3. have an overall G.P.A. in the University of not less than 3.5 and in the major or minor of not less than 3.6 (A-).

Individual lifetime membership fees are $25 and includes the cost of the certificate and ID card. Optional satin stoles for graduating seniors can be purchased for an additional $25. Fee changes may be determined by the national office at any time. Dues or fees may be assessed by members by their local chapters, as determined by the membership and approved by the local sponsor.


The Department sponsors an event to induct all new members chosen to join Lambda Alpha.


Student Honors and Awards

At the end of the academic year, outstanding anthropology majors are selected for awards in various categories.

The Irwin Press Paper Award in Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology draws upon social, cultural, biological, archaeological and linguistic anthropology to better understand the factors that influence health and wellbeing, the experience and distribution of illness, and healing processes. Our department defines medical anthropology broadly, acknowledging that it is understood through many different theoretical approaches and methodologies. Medical anthropologists study issues such as local interpretations of biological difference and bodily processes; perceptions of risk, vulnerability, and responsibility; ethnomedicine; biomedicine; the social organization of clinical interactions and public health interventions; bioethics; genetics, disease distribution, and health disparity; the political ecology of infectious and vector borne diseases, chronic diseases, malnutrition, or violence; the developmental origins of health and disease; the experience of illness and the social relations of sickness; among other issues. The recipient of this paper award has produced a quality paper outlining research in medical anthropology, broadly defined.

The Father Patrick Gaffney Integrative Anthropology Paper Award
Anthropology is the study of the human, writ large. But it is too often divided into a multitude of discreet ways to think about the human experience. Integrative anthropology is a broad-scale and generous anthropology, where diverse theoretical and methodological toolkits have the potential to merge, meld, deviate, and entangle. Papers in this area can cross traditional boundaries and draw from a range of different areas of scholarship in their efforts to develop a fuller, even if sometimes messier, understanding of being and becoming human.

James McKenna and Joanne Mack Promising Anthropology Major Award

Awarded to a first and second year student with outstanding early performance in the major.

The Julian Samora Award

Awarded to the student who has demonstrated broad engagement with academic life.

The Carolyn Nordstrom Professional Achievement Award

Awarded to the student with outstanding performance in academic publication, presentation at professional meetings, grants, and fellowships.