National Association of Student Anthropologists
Oral Presentation Session
In this paper, I provide both an overview of how we have defined applied anthropology, as well as how I understood myself as being equipped to do it. Most broadly, applied anthropology is the practice of identifying social issues impacting communities or populations and using anthropological skills, practices and perspectives to facilitate positive change. The four subfields of anthropology provide a valuable foundation for applied work to take a well-rounded approach on a multitude of problems that may not conform to the specialties each subfield provides exclusively. Yet it is an open question as to how to prepare undergraduate students to use and apply their anthropological training and skills. This paper introduces and describes how the applied anthropology course those of us on this panel are discussing allowed us to experience the turbulence and growth of a formal research project focused on identifying solutions to a problem of relevance to a significant proportion of students at our institution, Rhode Island College. Ultimately, I argue that teaching anthropology in an applied way benefits students by providing a low-risk environment for technique development and hands-on preparation for the professional world.