Intersections of Learning: Experience, Revelations and Transformative Education, Parts 1 and 2

SfAA 2016, Vancouver, Canada

Intersections of Learning: Experience, Revelations and Transformative Education

This session joins the diverse paths that coalesce on the road to significant comprehension of social realities through transformative field school experiences. Themes of social interaction and values, indigenous perspectives on human-environmental relations, notions of health and healing, guided by applied anthropological reflection and analysis, will set the scene for questions and debate on the challenges and rewards of student faculty collaborative work and the use of Participatory Action Research as a methodological framework for experiential learning. Faculty and students will present their results of integrated research that includes a joint seminar of East Carolina University with the Center for Social Well Being that provided a unique opportunity for collective inquiry in introductory field exploration in the Callejón de Huaylas, Ancash, Peru.

Chair: Patricia J. Hammer (Center for Social Well Being)  Co-chair: Blakely Brooks (East Carolina University)


  1. Samuel Hulsey – Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)

Title: Hierarchy vs. Reciprocity in Andean Water Governance: The Impacts of Experiential Learning in Shaping Early Research

Abstract: Through this presentation I aim to explore how cultural insights gained through introductory field work experiences in the Callejón de Huaylas have shaped my current research on water politics in the region by sharing a deeper understanding of highland perspectives of environmental processes and social relationships. I will focus particularly on the impacts of studying applied anthropology methods in context as well as the benefits of learning from direct community interaction. With prior experience working with a local environmental NGO documenting the social impacts of climate change in the region, specifically water scarcity, I will share how my field experience helped me understand how systemic problems in water governance are rooted in the dismissal of Andean traditional hydrologic management systems and social realities. Not only is the stark difference between hierarchical and reciprocity-based systems prevalent in resource management, but it saturates a multitude of aspects of Andean society such as health care, local politics, and ritual.

  1. Benjamin Blakely Brooks – East Carolina University BROOKSB@ECU.EDU

Title: The Rewards and Challenges of Faculty Student Collaborative Research in the Peruvian Highlands

Abstract:  Faculty student collaborative research is an integral part of interdisciplinary anthropological inquiry.    Research of this type is one of the main areas where applied anthropological perspectives are instrumental to help one gain a greater understanding of Andean cultural models.  Students from East Carolina University learned the research methods of participant observation and participatory action research while studying abroad in the Callejόn de Huaylas in Peru.  Guided by professors of anthropology, students engaged with local community members to gather cultural data on the topics of climate change, highland health, water rights, natural disasters, and agricultural biodiversity.  The collective data collection process of applied anthropology yielded fascinating results that helped students to understand the Andean worldview.  The rewards and the challenges of this type of applied work will be discussed in terms of student learning outcomes and Andean cultural models.

  1. Andrew Bensen – State University of New York, Adirondacks

Title: Participatory Action Research in Health and Healing in the Andes

Participatory Action Research (PAR) allows the researcher to gain unique insight into the experiences, beliefs, and realities of a specific culture to achieve positive social change.  In the medical field, the researcher can learn about the medical beliefs and practices while helping them meet their medical needs.  During my time in Carhuaz, Peru, I was able to learn and apply various PAR methods, which I will be able to apply in my future career in public health. Learning ethnobotanical treatments, folk healing, and people’s perception of certain disorders can help community health workers accomplish advances in community health. PAR ensures cultural preservation while helping people meet their needs.

  1. Zachary Mays – East Carolina University Email:

Title: Traditional Healing and Epidemiology in Ancash, Peru

Abstract: Within the Department of Ancash, which is located at an average of 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andean mountain range, the villagers face many challenges such as an absence of clean water, scarcity of food distribution, and poverty that has stricken the entire district. What peaked my interest in this region were highland health beliefs and how they related to epidemiological profile of the valley. Traditional healing and highland health beliefs will be compared with biomedical perspectives on disease and the epidemiology of specific health conditions in the valley.  Research methods and data collected during a summer study abroad trip to Peru will be utilized to discuss highland cultural understandings of health. Highlanders in this region face many challenges including the lack of economic resources to obtain adequate medical attention.

  1. Kristalyn Gill – East Carolina University Email:

Title: Shaken but Standing: How “el Terremoto de Ancash” Has Affected the Peruvian Highlands Since 1970

Abstract: This research project was conducted in June 2015 to produce a thorough analysis of the impact of the natural disaster, el Terremoto de Ancash, upon the Peruvian highlanders. El terremoto de Ancash is an earthquake that brought destruction and devastation upon the Peruvian Andean highlands in 1970. Researchers desired to discover the stages of the earthquake’s development, the region’s response to the event, and various perceptions of current community members concerning the earthquake. The first phase of the project was to develop research questions and use random sampling to locate participants to interview in numerous towns throughout the highlands. Student researchers then transcribed interviews and sorted the data using qualitative analysis. After organizing and examining data, researchers concluded that the earthquake occurred with no forewarning and many people believe that another natural disaster is soon to occur. Also, the region was heavily impacted with the death of nearly 70,000 people and the complete destruction of two major towns.

  1. Toni Copeland-Mississippi State University Email:

Title: When One Teaches, Two Learn: The Value of Student Collaborated Research

Abstract: Research is an essential aspect of anthropological careers. Providing students with “hands-on” experience enhances their education by giving them the tools necessary for success in planning and conducting future projects as well as for academic and professional success. This paper examines ways of including student collaborators through examples of student involved research. It includes examples of teaching methods through faculty directed research and integrating service learning projects in education. These projects teach students about applying anthropological theory and methods as well as planning and conducting participatory research that includes community involvement. Student outcomes reflect the benefits of this holistic education.

  1. Keri Brondo– University of Memphis, Email:

Title: Transforming Affective Labor into Collaborative Conservation in Voluntourism Exchanges on Utila, Honduras


8. Michel Bouchard – UNBC, Email:

Title: Talking the Talk While Not Walking the Walk: Teaching Applied in Partnership


9. Ricky Tharrington, ECU, Email:

Title: Personal Experiences with Agricultural Diversity in the Andean Highliands


Discussants: Kathryn Oths, University of Alabama