2008 COPAA Annual Meeting Minutes

March 27, 2008, Memphis Tennessee

Prepared by Kerry D. Feldman, COPAA Secretary

The Consortium of Applied and Practicing Anthropology Programs (COPAA) held its annual business meeting during the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) conference in Memphis, March 27, 2008 from noon until 1:30 pm.  Twenty departmental representatives attended from 16 academic departments.  Also present was 1 practitioner (member of the practitioner advisory committee) and the featured COPAA lecturer from Denmark, Dr. Sue Wright. (22 total participants).

Departmental representatives included:

Walter Vannette (Northern Arizona U)
Sunil Khanna (Oregon State U)
Nancy Romero-Daza (U South Florida)
Elizabeth Bird (U South Florida)
Karen Quintiliani (CSU-Long Beach)
Sue Hyatt (Indiana U-Purdue U @ Indianapolis)
Sue Wright (Danish School of Education, Arhus U)
Sherylyn Briller (Wayne St. U)
Lisa Henry (U North Texas)
Christina Wasson (U North Texas)
Bob Rotenberg (DePaul U)
Katherine Metzo (UNC-Charlotte)
Gina Sanchez Gibau (Indiana U-Purdue U @ Indianapolis)
Rhoda Halperin (Montclair State)
Chuck Darrah (San Jose St.)
Art Murphy (UNC-Greensboro)
Kathryn A. Kozaitis (Georgia St. U)
T. J. Ferguson (Practitioner)
Linda Whiteford (U South Florida)
Judith Friedenberg (U Maryland)
Linda Bennett (U Memphis)
Kerry Feldman (UA Anchorage)

Order of Business

Welcome by Linda Bennett, COPAA Chair and introductions by participants

  1. From COPAA Chair, Linda Bennett.

    Linda Bennett provided a brief history of COPAA, noting that this was the anniversary meeting of the original formation of COPAA that occurred at the SfAA meetings in Memphis in 2000.  At the initial organizing meeting there were eight representatives of the nine founding departments who met over two days to plan the launching of COPAA.  Since then, membership has grown to include 26 departments throughout the U.S., averaging about two new departments per year.  Linda explained that most COPAA business is conduct via email throughout the year, with the annual meeting occurring in conjunction with SfAA conferences.

    Linda thanked Sue Hyatt for arranging the participation this year of the COPAA International Distinguished Speaker, Sue Wright.

    The functions of the COPAA Leadership Group were explained.  This group is comprised of individuals working on tasks for which they volunteer as projects deserving of attention are brought to Linda by members.  Members of this group include: Kerry Feldman, Secretary; Christina Wasson, Webmaster; Gina Sanchez Gibau and Jeanette Dickerson-Putman, Treasurers; Sunil Khanna, Virtual Community Moderator; Lisa Henry, Program Chair; Sue Hyatt, 2008 International Distinguished Speaker Liaison; Elizabeth Briody, T. J. Ferguson, and Sue Squires, Practitioner Advisory Committee Members; and Linda Bennett, Chair.

    Special thanks were given to Lisa Henry who served as this year’s COPAA Program Chair at the SfAA meetings.  Lisa oversaw the offering of seven COPAA sponsored sessions/events at this year’s meetings.  Lisa volunteered to serve again in this role for the 2009 SfAA meetings in Santa Fe.

    Linda reported also that two new member departments were approved this year: De Paul University and Northern Illinois University.

    COPAA will co-sponsor with the AAA Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA) the reception following the NAPA Organized and Sponsored Employers Expo of the American Anthropological Association meetings next fall, 2008, in San Francisco.  The purpose of this Expo is to encourage non-academic employees of anthropologists to advertise their employment positions and meet prospective anthropological employees. COPAA will contribute $500 to this reception.

    The views of participants at the business meeting were sought regarding COPAA’s involvement with CoPAPIA on a project that would help collect information regarding recipients of MA degrees in programs that focus primarily or partially on applied anthropology.  Of major interest is learning where such alumni are employed currently and how their employment experiences have reflected–or not—their education received in anthropology.  The survey might take two years to design, implement and analyze.  It would expand the report on this topic prepared earlier by Robert Harman of UC, Long Beach.  Sue Wright suggested that we contact David Mills of Oxford University in the U.K. to examine his survey instrument and methodology for a similar kind of information gathering effort.  It was noted, also, that AAA will soon publish the results of the recent COSWA Academic Climate Survey.  In addition, a COSWA Practitioners Survey will be published by AAA later in 2008.  (COSWA=Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology.)
    Action taken – approved to work with CoPAPIA in the MA survey.

    It was noted that we should pay attention to how the survey above is worded in that some anthropologists simultaneously engage in both academic and practitioner applied anthropology.

    Linda Bennett announced that Robert Harman, Emeritus Professor at CSU, Long Beach, has provided funding for a Visiting Scholar in 2009 at the Department of Anthropology, CSU, Long Beach.

  2. COPAA Program Report
    Lisa Henry reported that COPAA sponsored seven sessions/events this year at the SfAA meetings.  Chairs of these sessions will submit reports to be published on the COPAA website and summarized in the SfAA Newsletter.

    Next year, COPAA will scale back somewhat the number of sponsored sessions at the SfAA meetings.  It was suggested that COPAA sessions at future meetings continue to emphasize forum types of discussion, not the traditional 20 minute paper presentation with discussants format.  This year we sponsored both types, and that seemed to work well.

  3. Treasurer’s Report
    Gina Sanchez Gibau report that COPAA had $7,657.47 on hand as of the end of February 2008.  Since that time, $300 in dues was received as well as expenses encumbered totaling $150 and $2,389.14 for our Distinguished Speaker’s airfare, lodging and stipend.  The ending balance as of today is $5,418.33.  Note: in the upcoming year as the Visiting Fellows Program is launched, some of these funds will be spent on that program.
  4. COPAA Website Committee Report
    Christina Wasson, COPAA webmaster, reported that the COPAA website now includes various resources for applied anthropology programs such how to become a participant in a COPAA Yahoo discussion group, Best Practices for preparing applied and practicing anthropologists, Guidelines for Training Practicing Anthropologists, and the results of the 2000 Alumni Survey.  The student resources include information regarding an online video for career options, distance learning opportunities at the graduate level and NAPA resources, among other links.  In May 2008 Christina will send a request for departmental update information for the website.  Consideration is being given to adding an “Assessment Measures” tool for departments, but this would be a very challenging task in that some assessments emphasize program outcomes and require significant alumni information from former students.

    Discussion occurred regarding how the COPAA website might include useful information for departments regarding tenure and promotion guidelines for applied anthropologists in academia.  Could COPAA develop an official statement in this regard that departments could use?  It was noted that Mary Huber of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has information regarding tenure and promotion.  Sunil Khanna is developing a guidelines statement for tenure and promotion of applied anthropologists.  Whatever guidelines are developed, it was suggested that they must be included in a local department’s promotion and tenure guidelines, also.  Whatever statement COPAA might develop should include guidelines regarding how theory relates to practice.  It was recommended that those interested in this topic consult NAPA volume #18 that focuses on the synthesis of theory and practice.

  5. COPAA Yahoo Discussion Groups
    Sunil Khanna reported on the Yahoo Virtual Community/Discussion Groups offered by COPAA.  Currently there are 62 members of these discussion groups.  We were urged to encourage students to enroll in a discussion group.  Sunil will prepare guidelines for how to join and participate in discussions.
  6. COPAA Visiting Fellow’s Program
    Lisa Henry reported that there are 9 committee members working on this project.  The vision of the program is to provide funds to departments to invite an applied or practicing visitor to come to the department with expertise not available in the department.  Awards would be provided to the program and the visitor.  One award per year would be available.  COPAA member departments would be eligible to apply for a Visiting Fellow Award to invite a practitioner or academically based anthropologist to the department for a “flexible” activity (e.g., intensive short interaction or semester in duration, depending on local funding available).  The first award would be available in 2009, with the application deadline for an award being Feb. 15, 2009.  The proposed activity could occur within a year’s timeframe: from summer 2009 – summer 2010.  The award would be announced at the SfAA meetings. Lisa’s committee will publish the procedures and requirements for this program on the COPAA website.  Sue Wright explained how something like this, but on a much larger financial scale, occurred in the U.K. with the government providing funding for it.
  7. Planning for the 2009 SfAA meeting in Santa Fe
    Lisa Henry will continue to coordinate COPAA sessions for the SfAA meetings in Santa Fe, 2009.  She requested session proposals or ideas from COPAA departments.  One suggestion was that we sponsor a session on theory and practice in response to a comment that traditional anthropology departments often view applied anthropology as “anthropology lite” (e.g., little theory is involved).  How do we engage traditional departments in a discussion of applied and abstract anthropology?  Sue Wright suggested that we “go for the students” who often desire applied training and education but don’t have a voice in departmental curriculum.  It was suggested that students be invited to a session regarding this topic at the Santa Fe SfAA meetings in which a paper is presented then students are invited to offer their reactions to it.

The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm