Monday, April 30, 2012

Anthropology Major


One of the most common complaints that I hear about our major (from faculty and students) is that it doesn't train students to do anything. Yes, this goes against the "4-field/allow no specialization" mantra, but it is stated again and again by our most ambitious, talented and smart students.  The reasons for these complaints are clear: we fail to offer a coherent set of classes that provide in-depth training (laboratory and field as well as conceptual/critical) in the areas of the discipline that require them (and for which there is abundant demand) and we have gotten rid of the classes that used to make us a notable department.  Now with the exception of just a few classes, we offer a fairly useless major – like most anthropology departments.  

The reality of where we stand is made clear through this NY Time Op Ed piece and this recent AP study. Those students who get majors who are not trained to do anything (I.e., "4 field") are the least likely to get jobs.  The anecdotal and statistical evidence is consistent.  Although a taboo topic in faculty meetings, this is a serious problem that should be addressed one way or the other. Solutions should be implemented: — I.e., bringing back a range of in-depth courses in field, lab and analysis in specific aspects of sub disciplines with pre-requisites and specialization. Sadly, in our department at least it doesn't appear that such a discussion will be allowed to take place.  Tragicomedy for our students at their own expense….