The Integration of Classic and Contemporary Anthropology in the 21st Century: Exploring Program Destinations in Educating Anthropologists

Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, 2014


Toni Copeland (MS State U) and Sherylyn Briller (Wayne State U)


“The Integration of Classic and Contemporary Anthropology in the 21st Century: Exploring Program Destinations in Educating Anthropologists” was organized by Toni Copeland and Sherylyn Briller and sponsored by COPAA. The session was very well attended with more than 30 present. Presentations were received well and generated interesting discussions. Many in attendance expressed interest in learning about the integration of classic and applied strategies in various types of anthropology education programs. In particular, the audience was very interested in the different ways programs are training and educating students, especially through involvement in communities and internships. They wanted to know more from panelists and other audience members about how these career-building opportunities and related coursework are flexibly integrated in these programs. Also, audience members expressed the desire to see papers from the session published. Session participants shared this desire and general excitement about disseminating what was learned. Additionally, there was some planning discussion of having future similar sessions aimed at exploring the strategies of more anthropology education programs.

Session Abstract

What should an educational mission and vision be for educating 21st century anthropologists? How should learning about classic and contemporary anthropological theory, application, methods and skills be interconnected? These questions are increasingly asked in our discipline now. In this session, we will discuss how several different educational institutions are exploring these issues conceptually and practically. We will find out about how these diverse programs approach answering these questions and design their anthropology curricula accordingly. Knowing more about both strategies tried and their effectiveness can help others with deciding how to blend foundational and current aspects of an anthropology education.

Paper Abstracts

COPELAND, Toni (MS State U) Academic or Applied: Integration of Education and Skills in an Applied Anthropology Program
The Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at Mississippi State University is an applied program. Our goal is to educate and train students to work as anthropologists; many of them outside academia. Because of this, we are often faced with questions of an academic versus applied nature. What should our students’ education constitute? What should the foci be? Is there an innate difference to preparing students for applied work rather than continued academic futures? In tackling these issues, we have integrated classic and contemporary aspects of anthropology to better prepare all of our students for their eventual employment destinations.

BRILLER, Sherylyn and CHRISOMALIS, Stephen (Wayne State U)Designing a Curriculum for Thinking Flexibly as a 21st Century Anthropologist
Our department has recently engaged in a process of reviewing the goals of our educational training at different levels. A key aspect of this review involved thinking carefully about what approaches we use to ensure that our students know about enduring questions in anthropology and can critically think about how their work fits with longstanding discussions in our field. In this presentation, we will highlight how we have revised our curriculum to date and striven to add material that will enable our future graduates to work in a conceptually sophisticated and practical fashion to create new anthropological knowledge.

SPOON, Jeremy (Portland State U, Mountain Inst) Teaching Skills to Solve Real World Problems: Steps Towards a Pragmatic Anthropology Program
The Anthropology Department at Portland State University offers undergraduate and graduate students a linked academic and experiential program that aims to provide students with an applied/practicing anthropology tool-kit as well the ability to create a feasible, practical career plan. The program creates a foundation with three-subfield anthropology and supplements it with practicum-based learning and career planning. I present new revisions to our curriculum and discuss successes and challenges in actualizing our goals.