Introduction to cultural anthropology, using fieldwork-based concepts and methods to study diverse cultural views and practices, varied forms of social organization, and contemporary global issues.
Dates: June 19 - July 14, 2017
What makes life meaningful? The way we order our lives, and why, varies broadly across cultures around the world. Our complex differences are challenging and even dangerous, forming the basis for descrimination as often as growth and ingenuity. These issues have simmered at the heart of anthropology since it became a discipline in the early 20th century. By interrogating what we know as “culture,” we can begin to comprehend the true depth of humanity’s diversity and genius, as well as one of its greatest liabilities. This course will allow students to critically engage with questions of human cultural and social difference by tracing the development of anthropological thought through readings, writing, film, discussion and a range of ethnographic exercises. Each week will involve experiences and experiments in anthropological methods in the “field” outside the classroom. Provided with the theoretical and conceptual framework to interpret cultural difference, students can begin to grasp the tremendous range of human social organization, beliefs and values. In addition to readings, each week will feature an anthropology-related current events article that will serve as a point of departure for discussion about the discipline and the cultural challenges we face today.
The goal of the course is to actively engage students with the material and each other. Group discussions, presentations, classroom exercises and field activities will invite interaction and encourage critical, creative thinking. Students can expect to gain: 1) A better understanding of culture, cultural differences and similarities, and the methods of anthropological research; 2) The tools to think holistically about culture, world views and diversity; 3) An appreciation for how anthropology can and does contribute to global development, change and sustainability; and 4) Improved analytical skills and greater facility with critical reading and writing, class discussions, presentations and data analysis. Students will be expected to fully participate in all class activities, and should anticipate devoting an average of at least 7 hours per week outside of class to readings, exercises, studying and meetings with other students and the instructor.
Student performance in this course will be evaluated according to the following: Reading Responses x 3 (15%); Ethnographic Assignment (25%); Presentation (20%); Final Paper (25%); and Participation (15%).
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