Jack of all trades, but master of none.

Historically, this has been the antithesis of a college education.

Yet, a new anthropology program at UT aims to prepare its students for a volatile world, one that demands a broader range of skills.

Combining traditionally separate sub-disciplines, UT's new Disasters, Displacement and Human Rights program blends various sub-fields to yield a more inclusive degree.

Hugh Teller, a forensic anthropologist and graduate student in UT's Disasters, Displacement and Human Rights program, faced cultural challenges as he worked in Kosovo excavating mass graves from a civil war in the early 90s.

At the time, Teller admits he was ill-prepared to cope with these issues. Yet, the field of anthropology is evolving to include more humanitarian efforts.

This new program seeks to follow this trend.

"More recently ... those people that are doing forensics are starting to understand that there is a broader cause out there," Teller said. "It's not just sitting in a laboratory studying fingerprints ... you can apply that to human rights abuse cases, and I think that's what attracts a lot of people to this program."

Tricia Hepner, Ph.D, of the Department of Anthropology, finds the DDHR program unlike anything in the country, being the first to take a holistic view of the field, including studies in archaeology, linguistics, social, cultural and biological anthropology.

For five years, Hepner and others in the department have worked to create new classes and attract faculty to UT in preparation for the program.

"It was really the interests of the students themselves that pushed the faculty to say 'okay, we can develop a program that unites these different strengths in anthropology and trains students broadly,'" Hepner said.

In regard to the type of research students will be expected to undertake, Hepner is hopeful that students will expand their focus.

"You no longer do forensic anthropology, you also do forensic anthropology in a very sensitive cultural, historical and political context," she said. "So the DDHR program is really intended to provide a kind of structure ... in the way students are thinking about the kinds of problems they are interested in doing research on, the skills they're developing to answer those research questions, and how their research can be applied to what we might call, 'real world problems.'"