2016 Designing and Leading Undergraduate Field Schools for Non-Majors: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, Parts 1 and 2

SfAA 2016 Vancouver, Canada


Abstract: This pair of sessions presents the collected experience of faculty who have developed undergraduate study abroad programs. These papers focus on the challenging intersection between providing diverse student populations with authentic cultural experiences and the need to provide rigorous and pedagogically sound academic design for the programs. Session 1 presents examples of academically rigorous short term study abroad experiences for undergraduate non majors, highlighting successes, challenges, and lessons learned.  Session 2 presents longer duration field school experiences intended to provide field experiences and training for undergraduate anthropology majors.  

Session 1 Designing and Leading Undergraduate Study Abroad Experiences for Non-Majors: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Rob Cooley Pennsylvania College of Technology

Why The World Didn’t End in 2012.  Mathematics + Anthropology = Innovative Cultural Diversity Education at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Incorporating rigorous liberal arts opportunities into specialized degree programs is challenging for applied technology colleges.  At Penn College, “Introduction to Non-European Mathematics” does this by combining two semesters of mathematics and anthropology with an intensive short-term study abroad experience.  Students learn ancient mathematics, how to keep an ethnographic field journal while abroad, and produce a research project on a selected component of the Maya culture. This paper presents the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from working with non-majors and providing them with an authentic cultural experience while preserving academic rigor and measurable academic outcomes.

Aaron M. Lampman, Washington College

Education Beyond Tourism:  Ethnographic Methods and Transformative Learning in a January-Term Course to Cuba.

Short-term study abroad programs often claim to offer “authentic” and “transformative” experiences with other cultures.  Drawing on examples from my January-term course in Cuba, I discuss the use of ethnographic methods as one way to encourage students to interact with local people and culture on a level that is more intentional and transformative than the “standard” touristic experience.  I will present the learning goals and outcomes of assignments such as structured observation, semi-structured interviews, soundscapes and multi-tiered field notes.  I argue that ethnographic approaches require students to engage with their intercultural experience in deliberate ways that enhance transformative learning.

Ramie Gougeon, University of West Florida

Designing an Anthropologically-Oriented Study Abroad Course for Non-Majors

Developing “The Anthropology of Tourism” required balancing competing demands of creating a course with broad appeal (i.e., to non-majors) while remaining “true” to core principles of anthropology. Pedagogical hurdles included designing appropriate course objectives and fostering a community of learning. The more challenging aspects of this process included capturing the commitment of students in allied programs, actively marketing the course, and navigating university policies pertaining to study abroad and interdisciplinary efforts.  The behind-the-scene challenges that must be met before one can provide engaging cross-cultural experiences for non-majors are significant and can make or break implementation of a new program.

Julie G. Markin, Washington College.

Study “Abroad” in Sovereign Nations:  Undergraduate Experiences on US Native American Reservations

Can you study abroad within your own country?  A core goal of study abroad is the transformative experience that occurs when one is immersed in the daily activities and history of a foreign place and culture.  While this experience is readily understood for locations outside the U.S., a course focused on engaging with and understanding Native American cultures and places faces the challenge of not feeling abroad.  I argue that short-course immersive interaction with Native American cultures in the Southwest affords a transformative opportunity through learning about critical non-Western social, cultural and political issues in our own backyard.

David Kozak, Fort Lewis College

Intended and Unintended: Transformative Learning in Ethiopian and Tanzanian Summer Programs

International and intercultural programs create rich opportunities for students to learn in complex structured (intended) and unstructured (unintended) ways during and after the intercultural experience.  Such learning experiences encourage students to engage the local in ways that may generate “high-intensity dissonance” which propels them into re-examining their emotional and intellectual assumptions.  This paper draws on my experience directing two field programs: In southwest Ethiopia students conducted ethnographic interviews with several pastoralist tribes.  In another program near Moshi, Tanzania students participated in a service project in a rural government health clinic.  I propose that unstructured learning is a powerful trigger for post program transformation and learning.

Jennifer Hueng Saint Mary’s College of California

Facts and Fictions of Educational Tourism:  Adventures in Engaged Pedagogy with Hungary and Tired Students

Educational tourism presents numerous pedagogical and logistical challenges.  Drawing from three travel courses to China and Colombia, this paper explores the different strategies that can be employed to design a course that prepares and provides students with authentic cultural educational experiences.  What are effective ways to balance the adventures of being in a different country with the demands of academic rigor?  How can we best prepare students to deal with culture shock, challenging cultural interactions, and living in community with classmates?  This paper explores these questions and examines ways to use these different challenges as opportunities for critical academic engagement.

Discussants: Benjamin G. Blount, Rob Cooley


Session 2: Lessons from the Field (School): Designing and Leading Undergraduate Field Schools for Undergraduate Majors

Tim Wallace North Carolina State University

Best Strategies for Summer Ethnographic Field Schools: Hard Lessons Learned from 22 Years of Experience

This paper describes the basic principles and strategies underlying this successful field school program held consecutively in three countries: Hungary, Costa Rica and Guatemala.  Participants consistently report this program as an intense, life-altering, experience-based introduction to the complexities of ethnographic field work. The author discusses the techniques used in mentoring apprentice fieldworkers through their first experience as ethnographers. While living with host families in small communities, for nearly 8 weeks students learn how to design, and then implement with ethnographic methods. The program concludes with presentations and write-ups of student findings. Students are introduced to IRB application processing, participant observation, field-note writing, in-depth interviewing as well as other techniques such as free-lists, photovoice, sampling, coding, cognitive drawing, etc. The paper concludes with discussion of the most successful and most difficult issues and problems encountered in undertaking this program.

Nancy Romero-Daza,  David Himmelgreen, and Sarina Ergas (University of South Florida) The Globalization and Community Health Field School: Bridging the Gap Between Anthropology and Engineering  

This paper describes the major challenges and rewards encountered in the conduct of a 10- week -long field school in Costa Rica, bringing together the social and engineering sciences. The field school, sponsored by NSF, fosters collaboration between anthropology and environmental engineering, and trains students to carry out interdisciplinary research addressing issues such as sustainable agriculture, water quality, and animal and human waste management.  Challenges to be discussed include those related to the selection of participants, the pedagogy of cross-disciplinary method and ethics training, approaches to community participation, and the working of interdisciplinary teams, among others.

Joseph W. Lanning University of Georgia

Immersive anthropological field studies: Promoting a sense of disciplinary membership among students and extending transformative impacts to hosts in rural Malawi

This paper addresses two challenges of sustaining place-based programs asking 1) how we create a sense of disciplinary membership for all students that inspires further anthropological engagement and 2) how we design “authentic” programs for students while ensuring that the transformative impacts extend to and are evenly distributed among our hosts? The Malawi Immersion Seminar condenses milestones of extended fieldwork – formulating research questions, building rapport, gathering data, and sharing results – into a short-term immersive study. Our engaged research appreciates the heterogeneous experiences of Malawians, striving to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of their participation and support.


TITLESuddenly One Summer: Exploring London’s Village and Ethnic Cultures

ABSTRACT: In 2006, I developed a summer course in London at the request of a public university. Having participated in life-changing, home-based, language-cultural immersion programs as an undergraduate and some postdoctoral research in London influenced the 4-week, anthropologically focused course I developed.  With preset housing arrangements, budget constraints, and playing against commonplace stereotypes, I focused readings, related local (and tourist venue) visits, participation in several annual events, personalized assignments, and free time around the theme of “London’s Village and Ethnic Cultures,” to give an intimate sense of this dynamic cultural and global crossroads through the centuries.  How this played out with students, ages 20 to 50, is examined through age, class, ethnicity, student expectations and behaviors, and on-the-spot adjustments.

Bruce Roberts Minnesota State University Moorhead

Angst and dichotomies in study abroad: reflections on duration and scale.

Based upon 20+ years of experience in East Africa this paper examines two contrasting options in study abroad. The first concerns the relative merits of short-term versus semester or yearlong programs. Having undertaken both, I offer a few insights on this debate. In actuality though most of us never participate in longer duration programs. This leads to a second matter of whether when planning shortterm programs we choose a “grand tour” approach or scaled-back itineraries with more intensive stays in a fewer places. I utilize an anthropological perspective and personal experience to assess possibilities of both approaches.

Discussants: Aaron Lampman, Rob Cooley