Course outline

Today anthropologists representing every conceivable specialization find themselves in all sorts of contexts far-removed from the stereotypical anthropological environment:  anthropologists now hone their craft in hospitals, governmental agencies, department stores, urban archaeology sites, Wall Street, classrooms, McDonalds, and any situation in which critical and systematic analysis of cultural context can impact the conditions that folks face everyday.  This course examines anthropological practice in the contemporary world, focusing on how conventional anthropological theory and method can empower people to understand, critique, and even dismantle dominant sociohistorical conditions.  

In this course we will examine the self-reflective and "engaged" perspective common to most applied anthropologists, probing how anthropologists who see themselves as part of contemporary social conditions can provide insights and intellectual tools that can provide various sorts of modest as well as quite radical self-empowerment.  Because contemporary anthropology is itself so complex and practiced in an ever-more complex world, we will spend some of our energy simply defining what it means to "apply" anthropological insight.  Rather than embrace the dictum that anthropologists should strive for "objectivity" and avoid "value judgments," we will accept that all anthropology is inherently politicized and must self-consciously confront very thorny ethical quandaries:  the modern world of burgeoning multiculturalism, persistent state-supported socioeconomic exploitation, rapidly expanding multinational capitalism, and spiraling personal and social injustices makes it clear that anthropologists must aggressively dissect the worlds that we both study and live in.  We will survey the scope of contemporary applied anthropology by examining the research of the IUPUI Anthropology faculty, outlining how the faculty see "applied" scholarship.  We also will examine the practical side of applied anthropology, surveying potential work contexts for anthropologists, the skills that are demanded of anthropologists today, and preparation for applied anthropological careers.


3:00-5:40 Tuesdays Cavanaugh Hall 435Office Hours: Mon 4:00-6:00, Tue 2:00-3:00 and by appt.
Cavanaugh Hall 413E

Course links



This is a survey course designed to introduce contemporary applied anthropology to anthropology majors or students with interests in anthropological insight.  Our departmental focus is on applied anthropology, so the course includes all of our faculty, who will each speak from their own research and experience on a wide range of applied settings, research questions, and perspectives.  I will guide weekly discussions and provide some continuity between subjects within the field, and faculty members will each guest lecture on an applied subject on which they have conducted research.


Your final grade will be based on a series of assignments that examine various facets of applied anthropology and include written analyses, oral presentations, self-reflection, and research.  I want you to learn and to receive the good grade you have earned and deserve, so please come see me if you ever have questions, need direction on assignments, or have difficulty with your work in the course. All due dates for assignments are included in this syllabus, and it is your responsibility to remember them.  Because there are multiple faculty members involved in the course, it is possible some dates of their presentations may change; we will attempt to minimize such changes, and any date changes will always be revised on the online syllabus and announced in class and on the Oncourse announcements.  However, assignment due dates will never be changed from what appears here.  Directions for all written assignments (i.e., annotated bibliography, bibliography proposal, readings presentation/discussion facilitator, and applied anthropology essay) are detailed on pages that you can link to from this syllabus.  The syllabus is the only course material or assignment that will be provided as a paper handout; all remaining course materials are online, so please see me immediately if you need any assistance accessing these materials.  

Attendance is of course essential to mastering the class material.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class meeting on a course roster that circulates through class.  If you come in late, you must ensure that you sign this roster at the end of class; at the end of the semester I will not negotiate over the days you actually attended but forgot to sign the attendance roster. I will not allow students to sign the roster if they arrive halfway through the class meeting; please discuss any delays outside your control with me (e.g., caught in traffic jam, but not an errant alarm clock).  You are allowed one absence with no penalty to your final attendance grade.  After that your attendance grade of ten points (i.e., 10% of course grade) will be deducted two points for each absence.  Consequently, if you have two absences you will receive eight points for attendance; three absences received six points; four absences receive four points; five absences receive two points; and six or more absences will receive no attendance points.  An excused absence is a documented illness (i.e., a physician's note, not simply sniffles in the next class or sounding really crappy on the phone), a religious holiday recognized in the calendars of a well-documented faith, or participation in an Athletic Department-excused event.  I will be reasonably forgiving about things over which you have no control, like flat tires and sick children.  I will negotiate these things on a case-by-case basis, but please let me know immediately via email and do not plan to barter over these absences at semester's end.

You will be responsible for completing two exercises that outline how you see Anthropology in general and applied Anthropology in particular.  The first assignment aims to determine what we each think defines anthropology and outlines how we learned about and were attracted to Anthropology.  Rather than try to flesh out whether or not you have received a trustworthy introduction to Anthropology, this assignment is simply meant to reflect on how each of us became Anthropology students and what that really means to us.  That essay is due September 1 and is worth 5% of the course grade.  

The second essay due by October 27 articulates what you think "applied anthropology" actually means.  This definition is itself disputed among scholars who are applied anthropologists, so it is not essential or perhaps even desirable to develop an absolute definition of the field.  Likewise, you might reasonably have some indecisiveness about what it means to be "applied" that you are free to admit.  Nevertheless, we need to struggle throughout the semester with articulating how anthropology is practiced in the real world and what its goals might reasonably include.  Being able to articulate the basics of anthropological insight to other scholars, public constituencies, your peers, and possible employers is fundamental to being able to use those skills effectively in a wide range of sociocultural contexts.  Your essay should also examine the question of where you might choose to seek employment and why you see such a position or context as appropriate to applying anthropological training.  This essay is worth 20% of your course grade.

The course's final written product will be an annotated bibliography on a topic in applied anthropology.  The bibliography will provide citations and brief summaries of at least 25 sources focuses on a topic that must be approved.  You will be required to complete a abstract of roughly a paragraph that proposes your annotated bibliography topic and includes at least five references on that subject (no annotations will be required when the subject is handed in for approval).  The bibliographic citations must scrupulously follow the American Anthropological Association style guidelines; departures from the style guide will be penalized.  The proposal, due September 28 will count for 5% of your course grade; you will receive this full 5% as long as you turn in a topic, and if it is rejected or we modify it you will still be credited with those full points following revisions.  Deductions will only be made for proposals that are turned in late, do not include sufficient resources, are incomplete, or are not turned in at all.  I will NOT accept any annotated bibliography on a topic that is not previously approved.  The final bibliography will count for 30% of your course grade.  Any annotated bibliography that is not turned in by December 1 at midnight will receive no credit for the assignment; please do not procrastinate or leave yourself subject to a recalcitrant computer or some other twist of evil fate certain to befall you the day the bibliography is due.  I will be sympathetic but cannot complete grading within the allotted time if your bibliography is not turned in by the due date.

The final exam will be a take-home essay exam in which you can use any books, readings, notes, or other materials to answer a series of essay questions.  You will be required to email me a copy of the exam.  The final will be worth 15% of the final course grade.

Discussion Facilitators

Teams of two or three students will be responsible to serve as discussion facilitators for faculty presentations.   In most weeks a faculty member will appear in class between 3:00 and 4:15 and lecture on their research.  This lecture will be briefly introduced by the discussion facilitators, who will outline the faculty member's academic biography and their scholarship.  You may volunteer to present a particular faculty member's work; if there are no volunteers, discussion facilitators will be chosen at random by the end of the second week of class.  In the second half of the class meeting the discussion facilitators will be responsible for leading discussion on the faculty presentation and the readings assigned by that faculty member.  The co-facilitators must provide the other students in the class with at least a typed outline at least one page in length including discussion questions based on both the lecture and the readings.  Your presentations should 1) provide an introduction to the faculty member's academic training and scholarship; 2) present an organized outline of the presentation and readings' central ideas; and 3) pose questions the lecture and readings raised for you.  This discussion introduction should last about 15-20 minutes.  You are expected to pose at least four or five substantive questions to frame discussion and to subsequently actively lead the discussion.  The students not leading discussion on that day are responsible for contributing to the discussion and offering additional questions pertinent to the readings that may not have been raised. The grades for discussion facilitators who are not well-prepared will be penalized.  Discussion facilitators who forget their presentation date will receive our sympathy but will not receive any credit for the assignment.

Your class introduction must be preceded by a meeting with the faculty member during his/her office hours at least one week before their presentation.  Please keep in mind that faculty members are all over-committed, so you MUST contact them directly (copy all emails directly to me to document that you are indeed setting up these meetings).  You can click on their names in the Course Schedule below for their emails.  You should coordinate this meeting with the other discussion facilitators presenting the faculty member's work:  faculty will not meet with each of you individually.  During this meeting, you should secure biographical information, like where they trained, what their central research projects have been, how they came to be anthropologists, and how they define applied anthropology.  This will count for 15% of your course grade, and every member of the group will receive the same score unless there are special circumstances.  Any student that does not meet with the faculty member as required will be penalized half of these points.  Any discussion team that does not provide a written outline for the class will lose one-half of the assignment credit.  I reserve the right to return outlines to your group if they are not sufficiently thorough.


The required readings for the course are available in most cases as PDF's on Oncourse in the Resources tab.  There is no required text for the class.  You absolutely must contact me beforehand if you are unable to access these readings or Oncourse.  You are responsible for reading each week's articles prior to their discussion in class, all course readings will be included in exam material, and strong annotated bibliographies will use sources presented in class.  You are encouraged to discuss your ideas about your presentation with me prior to class, or consult the faculty member who is presenting that week and suggested that particular reading.  I am happy to discuss any paper during office hours, at arranged times, or by email if it will help clarify some thoughts, provide some background information on the paper or topic, or provide assistance structuring your ideas.

Grade Scale

A 92+ (95)
A- 89-91 (90)
B+ 86-88 (87)
B 82-85 (84)
B- 79-81(80)
C+ 76-78 (77)
C 70-75 (73)
D 60-69 (65)
F 0-60 (60)


Due Dates

Calculating Course Grades

The applied anthropology essay, annotated bibliography, mid-term, and final will be assigned letter grades and calculated as the median score in that letter grade.  That means that if a student received a B+ on the annotated bibliography their grade would be numerically calculated as an 87.  For example, let's say that a hypothetical student did the following work in class over the semester:

This means that this student would have received 85.85 points of the possible 100 points, which is a B+.

If you cannot complete an assignment on time for any reason, you should contact me as soon as possible. I can always be contacted before or after class, you can schedule an appointment, and I check my email virtually everyday.  Please do NOT wait until well after a deadline to talk to me. Do NOT postpone talking to me if you are having any difficulty completing an assignment or you're having difficulty with the class.  I understand that you cannot control everything in life, so if an unforeseen event strikes let me know as soon as possible.  I will only extend a deadline in cases where a student demonstrates sufficient reason to be granted an extension.

Late assignments will be penalized a letter grade for each day they're late if you do not negotiate an extension with me beforehand or at the earliest possible opportunity  You can leave printed assignments in my mailbox for those of you who are still killing trees, or you can email me assignments as attachments.  Be absolutely certain to keep a copy of any emailed assignments you send to me should the email disappear or not arrive at my end, and save every single assignment in two places:  Don't just save it on your laptop or a thumb drive, since they can crash, get lost, or be purloined by somebody who undervalues your commitment to education.  Even if you miss a due date, contact me so that you can complete a partial credit makeup: to miss any assignments is, at best, mathematically ill-advised.

This syllabus includes deadlines for all assignments and test dates: it is your responsibility to know when assignments are due and tests are scheduled. There will not be any extra credit material. Please keep electronic backups of all coursework.  If you do not complete course work by semester's end you will receive no credit for unfinished work unless you have a substantial reason for tardiness. You can monitor your grades over the semester on Oncourse.

All work in the course is conducted in accordance with the University’s academic misconduct policy.  Cheating includes dishonesty of any kind with respect to exams or assignments. Plagiarism is the offering of someone else’s work as your own: this includes taking un-cited material from books, web pages, or other students, turning in the same or substantially similar work as other students, sneaking a peek at the neighbor's exam, or failing to properly cite other research.  If you are suspected of any form of academic misconduct you will be called in for a meeting at which you will be informed of the accusation and given adequate opportunity to respond.  A report will be submitted to the Dean of Students, who will decide on further disciplinary action.  Please consult the University Bulletin’s academic misconduct policy or me if you have any questions.

Be absolutely certain to keep a copy of any emailed assignments you send to me should the email disappear or not arrive at my end, and save every single assignment until grades have been assigned:  Don't just save it on your laptop or one thumb drive, since they can crash, get lost, or be purloined by somebody who undervalues your commitment to education, and do not delete assignments instantly after their due date until their grades have been posted to Oncourse.  If you email me an assignment and do not turn it in during class, you absolutely must keep the sent mail confirmation should the assignment not reach me for whatever reason. 

The Office of Adaptive Educational Services (AES) ensures that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations from the University and their professors.  Students must register with the AES office in order to receive such services.

All work in this course is intended to fulfill the University's Principles of Undergraduate Learning.  The class focuses on critical, self-reflective thinking, integrates knowledge from a variety of disciplinary and sociocultural perspectives, examines social and cultural complexity, and probes the impact of knowledge on our everyday decision-making.  Do let me know if the course does not satisfy any of the missions included in the Principles.

A basic requirement of this course is that you will participate in class and conscientiously complete writing and reading assignments.  If you miss more than half our class meetings within the first four weeks of the semester without contacting me, you will be administratively withdrawn from this section. If you miss more than four classes in the first four weeks, you may be withdrawn. Administrative withdrawal may have academic, financial, and financial aid implications. Administrative withdrawal will take place after the full refund period, and if you are administratively withdrawn from the course you will not be eligible for a tuition refund. If you have questions about the administrative withdrawal policy at any point during the semester, please contact me.

Portable electronic devices such as cell phones and laptop computers must have their sound turned off before the start of class.  You can use a laptop in class for note-taking but should silence it; I know it is nearly impossible to ignore a Facebook message or email notifications popping up on your laptop or phone, but please do not plan to answer your emails, monitor Twitter, answer texts, and monitor Candy Crush during class.  Please let me know if you expect to need to respond to your phone for specific reasons (e.g., pregnancy monitoring, disabled family, or contact with kids--not to stay in touch with a significant other who just likes to hear your voice, buddies planning the evening pub crawl, and so on).  Anyone whose clever Family Guy ringtone disturbs class will be given a verbal warning on first offense and will be asked to meet with me after class if you can't remember to turn off your phone before class.

The classroom is a safe speech situation in which it is your responsibility to treat other classmates fairly and with mutual respect, even if they have the audacity to disagree with you, champion an opinion that is inconsistent with your worldview, or simply bore you.  Anyone who talks when someone else is talking, is hostile, or otherwise violates classroom etiquette will be considered to be in violation of this policy and will need to meet with me.


Aug. 25, Sept. 1, 8

Engaged Anthropology

Engagement and critical thinking:  self-reflection on social and anthropological position
Self-empowerment, or, reasons to question the Prime Directive: how anthropological tools can impact inequality and injustice

Give Me a Pen: Anthropological textuality, style guides, and writing in this class
Get to know the American Anthropological Association Style Guide
Anthropology research resources in the IUPUI Library:  Anthropology Resources Guide

Applied Anthropology and the Academy:  the blurred boundaries between practice and "pure" research
The Anthropologist as Intellectual, the Anthropologist as Critic: the responsibilities and dangers of critical Anthropological inquiry

The Ethics of Engaged Anthropology


Sept. 15

Guest Lecturer: Paul Mullins



Sept. 22

Guest Lecturer: Elizabeth Kryder-Reid

Sept. 29

Guest Lecturer: Jeremy Wilson

Oct. 6

Guest Lecturer: Larry Zimmerman


Oct. 13

Guest Lecturer:  Nick Rattray


Oct. 27

Guest Lecturer Sue Hyatt



Nov. 3

Guest Lecturer: Audrey Ricke

Nov. 10

Guest Lecturer: Gina Sanchez-Gibau

Nov. 17

Guest Lecturer: Jeanette Dickerson-Putman

Nov. 23 NO CLASS MEETING, work on your Annotated Bibliography


Dec. 1

Guest Lecturer:  Holly Cusack-McVeigh

Dec. 8

Course wrap-up


Last updated November 19, 2015