Conversations

EPIC Innovation w/ Dr. Alexandra Mack

Welcome back listeners! Adam and Ryan have taken some time away as of late to finish and defend their dissertations. Now that Ryan is done, and Adam defends in just one week (so close!), TAL is getting back into gear with new content in the development and production stages. Now, another key detail, several episodes recorded earlier this spring are also on their way. Some of these are guest interviews (including a second interview with Hamilton Morris of HBO’s VICE and Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia) as well as the remainder of our Story Slamming Ethnography episodes (we haven’t forgotten about those). All that is to say, there is an extensive repertoire of content coming your way, including an upcoming collaboration with EPIC. Speaking of…

With this episode of This Anthro Life, we are joined by Dr. Alexandra Mack and collaborative guest host Matt Artz. Together we interview Alex and explore her story. What makes our discussion with Alex so distinct is her breadth of research and applications of anthropological thinking that has resulted in a unique narrative and career trajectory. Alex’s story is a good lesson for anyone who studies anthropology or is broadly interested in the social sciences, and the impact this kind of work can have across industries. One of the inspiring moments we explore in our conversation with Alex took place towards the end of her doctorate while at a AAA conference. A software and digital agency called E-lab had an open house and something clicked with her… We will leave you to explore the episode to find out more. But, what is captivating about Alex’s epiphany moment and career transformation was that she began with Near Eastern museum collections, went to archaeology, and explored pilgrimage before developing her current interests.

Today, Alex leads innovative problem solving and strategy development based on a deep understanding of the surrounding culture and activities. She has brought this combination of customer-centered design, innovation, market research, opportunity identification, and business planning to projects including health care, retail, software, and financial services. Additionally, Alex was a Senior Fellow in Pitney Bowes’s Strategic Technology and Innovation Center. Prior to her work with Pitney Bowes, Alex spent several years consulting in marketing, design, and strategic research. From 2011-2017 she served on the Executive Board of EPIC.

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Contact Us

Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on thisanthrolife.com  and be sure to leave us a review.

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. And we need your support. Patreon helps us keep going to pay for things like our website. We’ve brought you over 100 episodes so far to over 40,000 subscribers. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

Consulting Podcasters: Prototyping a Democratic Tool for Multiple Voices, Storytelling and Solution Finding

Photo: Gigi Taylor

Thanks to the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) for having Adam Gamwell and Matt Artz of This Anthro Life present at the annual meeting in Philadelphia. We presented as part of the New Methods, Interventions And Approaches session.

Our paper title was Consulting Podcasters: Prototyping a Democratic Tool for Multiple Voices, Storytelling and Solution Finding. You can read it below. Read More

Marching for Science w/Valorie Aquino

On this episode of This Anthro Life, hosts Ryan Collins and Adam Gamwell are joined by TAL correspondent and guest host Astrid Countee and by a very special guest, Valorie Aquino. They joined us to talk about the 2017 March for Science. Valorie is one of the key organizing 30’s something scientists who helped make the 2017 march a reality. As she conveys in this episode, doing so was no easy task. This required countless late nights, missed social occasions, hours of frustration, and unfortunately, the all to occasional naysayers. Yet, Valorie’s story is one complete perseverance, rooted in a deep passion for science that began at an early age (you can check out her TEDx talk where she explains more of her origin story and passion for science here).

Check out This Anthro Life on our new partner player Radio Public Just by listening on Radio Public, you are supporting TAL because the team behind the player believes in helping small podcasts become sustainable. You listen, they pay us a little bit per episode. The player is free and awesome, and all your favorite podcasts are available on there too! Check it out and let us know what you think! Here’s the Link again.

The March for Science

For those of you who may not know, the March for Science is an “organization [which] empowers a global community of science supporters for nonpartisan advocacy in service of equitable and effective science and science policy.” Like other marches in recent years, the March for Science was first held in 2017 and the main event was in Washington DC. However, several other science marches were held in major cities across the US in a nationwide march of social solidarity. Likewise, the March for Science is becoming an annual phenomenon with the 2018 event just days away from the release of this episode (see details below for information on how you can participate).

A take away from our discussion with Valorie in this episode is the need for scientists to be vocal. Many scientists, academic and industry based, end up in fairly insular positions. This is unsurprising. After all, having a PhD means years of strict dedication to a specific field of study and few are lucky enough to have the guidance to step beyond the scope of their fields and engage with different interested audiences. Furthermore, if you have or are on track to reach a tenured position, then you likely understand the stringent requirements necessary to achieve that goal. When every word counts in a publication, its easy to direct your conversation away from public interest.

#scicom

All too often scientists end up speaking with themselves. Movements like the March for Science show exactly how broad science is. Many disciplines share the scientific method and use in for different forms of testing. Science tends to be envisioned as relating to medicine, biology, technological development, and human evolution. But, it also impacts social policies, food security, energy efficiency, climate change, space exploration and much more. If you’re looking for outspoken scientists be sure to check out #scicom (science communication) as well as any public facing science programs like Star Talk. For good daily science news and discoveries check out a public facing blogs like IFL Science or get more raw material from site’s like Science Daily.

Support the March

If you want to participate in the March for Science, its never too late. The March for Science is happening in several cities across the country. To RSVP in a city near you, just type in March for Science + your city to get more details. If your local to Boston (TAL’s home town) RSVP over this link here. If you’re looking to get involved with the main DC event, looking to donate, or interested in getting involved in some other way then follow this link here.

Contact Us

Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on thisanthrolife.com  and be sure to leave us a review.

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. And we need your support. Patreon helps us keep going to pay for things like our website. We’ve brought you over 100 episodes so far to over 40,000 subscribers. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

 

Brave Community: Teaching Race in the American Classroom w/ Janine de Novais

Welcome listeners to the second installment of our Diversity and Inclusion crossover series, bringing together This Anthro Life with Brandeis University. For those of you who are new to the show, This Anthro Life (TAL) was launched as a scholar-practitioner program designed to bring anthropological and social science research and thinking to interdisciplinary and public audiences. The original idea behind the podcast is to use our skill sets and toolkits  as anthropologists to translate and socialize data, cultural patterns, and research into accessible open format dialogues and conversations that provided solutions for social impact and actionable insight.

On this episode, TAL hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by Dr. Janine de Novais of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) to expand on the ideas behind “Brave Community” (discussed in episode 1 of the Diversity + Inclusion in Higher Ed series) and to understand the major hurdles she finds with diversity and inclusion in higher education today. With her dissertation Dr. de Novais explored the ways in which classroom experiences in higher education do and do not contribute to deep learning that influences students understandings of race. Dr. de Novais’ scholarship also focuses on a practice-based question: what kind of learning about race do college students need given our racially diverse and deeply unequal society? Her answer: Brave Community–a pedagogy that relies on academic grounding, the distinctive culture of a classroom, to support students. As we learned in our interview, much of Dr. de Novais’ interests today are influenced from life experiences.

Sharing details on her origin story, Dr. de Novais was born in Cape Verde in 1976 and eventually moved to Brockton, MA when she was 15. This transition prompted her to critically try and understand race in the American context. However, seeing race from a critical vantage point isn’t always easy because it is informed through lived experience. In this way de Novias views race as the being either “the special sauce or the fuel that burns the circus down.” As Dr. de Novais made it clear, race is already in the room, why not talk about it? The difficulty is establishing an environment to approach the subject critically.

When de Novais first came to HGSE, she planned to study how to transform a core curriculum like Columbia’s into its more culturally diverse, 21st-century iteration. In the end, de Novais ended up focusing more broadly and exploring the dynamics and possibilities of learning about race in academic spaces. The latter is the subject of her dissertation, where she looked at whether college classrooms can be optimal spaces for meaningful learning — and teaching — about race. Her study compared two academic courses at a liberal arts college: a seminar on slavery and a lecture on black political thought. She found that drawing from the academic grounding in the classroom, students became more intellectually brave, and displayed greater interpersonal empathy. She calls this process that links classroom dynamics to learning about race, “brave community.” The key to brave community, she says, is “academic grounding.”

Academic Grounding is understood as the blending of academic content and academic culture. “Academic content plays a huge role,” Dr. de Novais says, but how an educator sets up the class culture and models academic behavior is essential for meaningful learning about race to occur. More often than not, she says, students felt willing and eager to respond and reflect due to how their professor set the tone of the class. Academic grounding can be envisioned as a process. Early in the semester, academic grounding for the class based on the style and goals of the instructor. Gradually students generate answers to questions they have about their instructor: are they authentic, respectful, engaging, and connected to what the learning requires. Week after week, academic grounding become sustained by the students and this interaction can build an academically grounded community

To becoming brave within this community requires that students are provided with common and solid ground – a feeling that the classroom can be a holding environment for a different way of being,  share more critical insights, be willing to take risks, and gain confidence in engaging with ideas of race. Of course, fear can be a preventative factor to any classroom community. And there is a lot of fear in the classroom, especially for courses on race studies.

One of Dr. de Novais’ findings was that because of outside social conditioning, students come to the classroom very critical of educators and each other. On the beginning of a class one of Dr. de Novais’ students says “I am in with this sort of critical eye on, who’s going to say something that sounds crazy? And I think a lot of the tension was coming from people not knowing what to say and feeling scared to say the wrong thing. And I think throughout the class we’ve sort of landed on this feeling that there isn’t a wrong thing to say. Because a lot of us said things we wouldn’t have said in other spaces. And I think that’s what I’m most proud of.

This form of insight is critical for educators. Higher education has dual goals of being a space for young adults to cultivate critical knowledge for later positions and career trajectories, while also being a care taking space. Care taking, however, is not made through blanket statements that can do more harm than good. Rather, difficult subjects need to be addressed with critical attention at the interpersonal level. A reminder educators can take from Dr. de Novais, as she said at the at the Sankofa Lecture at Leslie University, is that “racism is structural and big, but human life is at human scale. All the horrible things we do to each other happens at the human scale.” Tune in to the episode to find out much more.

Click here for more on Dr. Janine de Novais

Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on thisanthrolife.com

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. And we need your support. Patreon helps us keep going to pay for things like our website. We’ve brought you over 100 episodes so far to over 40,000 subscribers. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

Music this episode: Brittle Rille Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

#MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship by Emma Backe

Welcome to Story Slamming Anthropology. This series features both innovative narrative and audio performance drawing on the deep toolkit and methods of anthropology. The goal with Story Slamming Anthropology is to invoke the public facing spirit of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits and many others to speak to 21st century concerns from a comparative perspective in clear language. The narratives here are based on juxtapositions, seemingly counter- or non- intuitive linking’s of subjects, objects, ideas, emotions, practices, or traditions that will intrigue, educate, and delight. In doing so, the goal of these stories is to bring anthropological storytelling to wider audiences and to demonstrate that anthropology matters today more than ever.

This narrative, #MeToo: Stories in the Age of Survivorship, is written and performed by Emma Louise Backe

The reckoning of #MeToo has ushered in a renewed politics of storytelling, one whose capillary reach and discursive power requires critical analysis and reflexive consideration of how we listen to and seek out stories. As an ethnographer of sexual violence, who conducted fieldwork on a rape crisis hotline during the Pussygate controversy and has served as a Peer Advocate in George Washington University’s Anthropology Department to respond to incidents of sexual misconduct, I wanted to situate and historicize the #MeToo movement, with the recognition that the academy must similarly grapple with the perils of harassment and assault. This recognition of violence, particularly in light of the suffering slot, must be accompanied by the acknowledgement that the anthropological community contains survivors as well as perpetrators, experiences of trauma as well as complicity and predation. By offering an ethnopoetic approach to #MeToo, I propose opportunities to explore the gaps between lived experience and knowledge production, one whose theoretical intercession recognizes that a disposition towards care must also leave room for hesitation and creative reconfigurations of listening.

Emma Louise Backe is a social justice sailor scout working in international development and global health on issues related to gender-based violence and women’s health. She has a Master’s in Medical Anthropology and Certificate in Global Gender Policy from George Washington University. When she’s not advocating on behalf of reproductive justice and consent, she manages The Geek Anthropologist, writes for publications like Lady Science, and tweets from @EmmaLouiseBacke.

 

If you enjoy Story Slamming Anthropology, or are would like to share a narrative of your own, let us know!  You can contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on from the TAL episode archives. The biggest compliment you can give us is to leave us a review, this helps improve our visibility and makes This Anthro Life more accessible.

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. Patreon helps us keep going. We’ve brought you over 100 episodes so far and can’t wait to keep building. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

Carving a Niche between Software and Social Science: Anthropology in Industry w/ Natalie Hanson

Design and anthropology have been seen together with increasing frequency over the last few years, but how do design and anthropology fit together in relation to industry? And, how does this pairing create insight? Adam and Matt (a guest host at This Anthro Life) are joined by Dr. Natalie Hanson to explore these questions and more.

Dr. Hanson has been working at the intersection of business strategy, technology, social sciences, and design for nearly 20 years. This gives her a relatively unique perspective on the worlds of anthropology and design. Hanson is also the founder of Anthrodesign, which started as a list serve and now has its own Slack channel (you could join too by following the instructions here).

At TAL we often ask our guests to reflect on their origin stories – what drew them in, what ideas shape their own, and how their development brought them to their current positions. With Hanson, reflecting on her professional and critical development couldn’t have been more insightful to the discussion of anthropology, design, and industry. In reflecting on her origin story, Hanson addresses a concern that so many friends and family have when one declares that they are going to study the social sciences and culture: why? Her parents, like so many others, met her choice to study religion and biblical literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with skepticism and perhaps some despair. Hanson saw something in the social sciences though, that they can help you critically understand the way cultural systems drive relationships. This early exploration on Hanson’s part would become a foundation leading her to explore design and systems theory from a macro perspective in Antioch University at Seattle.

But, the macro perspective only covers one side of the story and often doesn’t leave room for thinking on the role of human agency. This intersection between large scale social phenomena and individual action is where anthropology tends to reside. It was working with academic computing at Mills College in Oakland, California where Hanson had her first introduction to anthropology. This prompted her to think on culture and social complexity. But, it was in visual anthropology where she recognized that cultures tend to tell stories in particularly charged ways. Art, being a very charged means of showing narrative and expression, is the product of culture. It’s easy to recognize this fact when walking through a museum and seeing art overtly grouped not only by culture but by time periods. Like art, all cultural products can be thought of as complex forms of insider communication. For Hanson, it was then obvious that software too is a product of the culture which developed it.

Typically, anthropologists tend to view culture on large scales within relatively bounded frameworks as a starting point. From there, the boundaries can blur as smaller scales come into focus. Work spaces, as such, form cultures through the interactions between colleagues and the actions taken to create and maintain bonds. How workspace cultures operate will undoubtedly shape the final product a group seeks to create. Today, anthropologists working in diverse industries apply this thinking to distinct groups within corporations as well as to consumers and the various walks of life they may be coming from.

Reflecting on the insights above, Hanson eventually received a PhD at Temple University for anthropology with a focus on visual communication. Her focus in going to Temple was to maintain a commitment to creativity and expression which she brought to SAP when she started a UX (user experience) team. This experience also helped Hanson understand the use value of learning to speak at different levels within a corporation, to find common ground on ideas and turn them into actions. Believe it or not, anthropology can be of help here.

A philosophy that Hanson was clear to articulate from an industry perspective is, ‘If you’re going to build good software you need to get out of the office and talk with people, walk the shop floor, talk with friends, and family.’ After all, to do ethnography is to ‘hang out’ and get to know people. It may come as a surprise, but for different industries to take on ethnographic thinking is a relatively recent trend.

For anthropologists, the general idea of learning about people’s’ wants and desires through ethnographic methods (i.e. hanging out) is nothing new. But acting on these insights – to help make and tailor a product, optimize a business team, or shape the user experience of software – is. The trade off though, as Matt points out, is that ethnography takes time. Getting the most ideal rich forms of data can come at the cost of valuable production constraints. Likewise, without much time to invest, the ethnographic information collected will run the risk of being thin and less impactful. For an anthropologist, this means their data will be limited in true depth or understanding of a social group, which can lead to lackluster insights. For a designer, the consequence of creating a time saving product could be widely missing the mark on its use value. In this way, there is a sense of a goldilocks zone of thick description and timely production being hinted at in the conversation that can be difficult to find.

With ethnographic research there is always a question of access that can be thought of in some ways as community trust and rapport with the researcher. To build trust, one needs to start small with the basics. This is certainly not the most exciting enterprise. While Hanson recognizes that webpage design and satisfaction surveys are not ethnographies in full, this work lays the foundation for trust in time. Insight comes from long term studies, recognizing trends, patterns, and experiences. This helps translate into shorter term studies with people where the distance between being an insider and an outsider (or an innie and outie) is minimized.

The final insights from the conversation with Hanson have to do with language and the needs of stakeholders. In other words, how to translate information from one group to the next. For Hanson, moving to midwest from the east coast presented yet another lesson in the value of learning to speak with others. Yet, in her professional work, the issue of translation comes in building dialogues between teams of engineers, product managers, UX’ers, designers, and those working through quality assurance. The complexity entailed by mediating language between distinct specialist groups is compounded by the fact that there is no handbook for doing so. Likewise, some words don’t always translate well between groups. Software means one thing for a developer and another for a consultant. This reflects well on jargon terms for anthropologists like ritual, which could mean brushing your teeth, observing a religion at a certain time and place, a complex web of actions, or, as it is so often used by archaeologists, a colorful way of saying, “I have no clue what this is.”

Speaking to the complex dynamics of translation, Hanson reflected on the relatively slow way in in user experience is impacting healthcare. When UX is directly impacting not only health but all the entangled issues surrounding health policies and practices, progress can be very slow. App developers might want to create a blanket product, a one size fits all solution. Yet, the trouble in creating any app in a vacuum, especially a health related one, is that behavioral and cultural distinctions need to be kept in mind. Such issues can easily be compounded by diseases like diabetes, where individual behavior, cultural ways of using apps as well as receiving healthcare, and genetics have important roles in a perspectives app’s success and applicability. It is incredibly complex to navigate these environments and doing so requires a human element.

This reflects on the value of anthropology in recognizing human issues in broad arenas. A researcher may not always have the perfect conditions, questions, or responses. Data is often imperfect as is the research. As Adam points out, recognizing this helps ground the reality of anthropological work in general.

To find out more on the benefits of bringing anthropology and design together to solve the toughest problems in business, check these links out here and here. You can find more information on some of the discussions in this episode here as well:

 

Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on from the TAL episode archives

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. Patreon helps us keep going. We’ve brought you over 95 episodes so far and over 35,000 of you have joined up. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

Diversity + Inclusion in Higher Education, part 1

Welcome listeners to the first installment of our Diversity and Inclusion crossover series, bringing together This Anthro Life with Brandeis University. For those of you who are new to the show, This Anthro Life (TAL) was launched as a scholar-practitioner program designed to bring anthropological and social science research and thinking to interdisciplinary and public audiences. The original idea behind the podcast was to use our skill sets and toolkits  as anthropologists to translate and socialize data, cultural patterns, and research into accessible open format dialogues and conversations that provided solutions for social impact and actionable insight.

 With the Diversity and Inclusion Series, we are opening a semester long podcast series about diversity and inclusion in higher education and beyond. Here, our inspiration comes from anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s claim that anthropology’s job is to make the world a safe place for human differences. One small step in doing so is to have conversations on tough topics, and that is precisely what we aim to start with this series.

Conversations matter. This conversation is about opening questions on, what does it mean to engage diversity in an academically grounded way, in the context of critique? What do students need in order to do this well? For Dr. Janine de Novais, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, some answers come from her dissertation research which demonstrates the power of conversations in classroom settings. She focused broadly on the dynamics and possibilities of learning about race in the classroom by comparing two different courses on the subjects of slavery and black political thought. What she concluded was that students “became more intellectually brave, and displayed greater interpersonal empathy” when classrooms settings were safe to express intellectual issues even on difficult and emotional subjects.

A central problem we address through This Anthro Life is that people of different disciplines, industries, or walks of life share the human condition but lack the time, skills, or knowledge to talk across and learn from difference. In a world where inequalities, power differentials, and endemic privilege continue to impact the fabric of university communities, these conversations provide a needed starting point. We aim to address concerns surrounding LGBTQ equality on campuses, cross-cultural diversity, religious pluralism, as well as race and ethnicity in contemporary US life head on, using 21st century social technologies like podcasting to reach the widest possible audience.

With our first episode, we begin with some essentials on diversity and inclusion. First, rather than reiterate a history on the development of the current movement, we begin from a foundation which recognizes that diversity and inclusivity are issues impacting different industries and professions today, especially the university system. The question isn’t one of definition but action. What can any of us do to bring diversity into the classroom or foster an inclusive learning environment?

Several professionals in and outside of universities have sought to address these concerns with actionable steps. Dr. Diane Goodman’s work illustrates what some positive actions could be by way of recognizing and understanding microaggressions and developing cultural competence. Goodman understands cultural competency for social justice as the ability to live and work effectively in culturally diverse environments and enact a commitment to social justice (see Brandeis University’s stance on social justice). The emphasis here, echoing the charge of Ruth Benedict above, is that students (as well as faculty and staff) feel safe, have their needs met, and have the ability to fulfill their potentials. To promote equity and inclusion for cultural competence, Goodman details five critical skills to nurture: self-awareness, understanding and valuing others, knowledge of societal inequalities, skills to interact effectively with a diversity of people in different contexts, and skills to foster equity and inclusion.

It’s important to keep in mind that university settings, especially in the classroom, can be great environments to teach diversity. This is one of the major points Trudy Bourgeois discusses in her Huffington Post article, The Role of Education In Advancing a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough: Linking Education to the Workforce of the Future. There, reflecting on current trends to bring more diversity and promote inclusion in professional settings, Bourgeois points out, that “diversity shouldn’t be taught in the workplace, it should start being a concern at a much earlier time in one’s life.” Her point is certainly well grounded, but there are several factors which prevent this from taking place.

Lisa M. Rudgers and Julie A. Peterson detail Seven Key trends for higher education in 2017 which certainly remain relevant in 2018. Among the trends, they list sliding enrollments, cost and access, as well as questions on the value of one’s upper level education. In general, college enrollment continued to decline in 2016 across the country. While this historical moment is characterized by increasing visibility on issues of diversity and inclusion in the university setting, it is troubling that many who would benefit most from these movements may not have access or recognize its value.

The subject of diversity and inclusion is as difficult as it is complex. As this series continues throughout the Spring 2018 semester, we’ll be building an ongoing conversation that becomes enriched through guest experts, educators, students, and more. We also hope to integrate answers and messages from listeners who are compelled to add to the discussion and address some of the questions we raise. For this episode, we ask: if you are a teacher, how do you establish the norms and practices of inclusion and diversity in your classroom? We feel it is important that this series is taking place in collaboration with Brandeis University because of its history. Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis at Brandeis University is predicated on the charge of social justice. Historically speaking, Brandeis University sits on the grounds of Middlesex university which, while it was running, was the only school that did not impose a quota on Jewish students. At the time, in the early 1940’s, this was a progressive move for an American university. Brandeis University carries much of the legacy of its former counterpart as it opened its doors as a Jewish university that sought inclusivity – being open to students of all religions, ethnicities, and social statuses. This charge, carried from its founding, remains important today.

Links mentioned during the episode:

Christine Walley – Exit 0

Georgetown University Addressing its History of Slavery

Upcoming Events at Brandeis

Contact Adam and Ryan at thisanthrolife -at – gmail.com or individually at adam -at- thisanthrolife.com or ryan -at- thisanthrolife.com

Find us @thisanthrolife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

You can download and listen to all our content on Apple Podcasts or on from the TAL episode archives

This Anthro Life is an official collaborator with the American Anthropological Association, The Society for Applied Anthropology, SAPIENS, and EPIC. Be sure to check them each out for more insightful and thought provoking anthropology content.

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform where you can directly support This Anthro Life. Patreon helps us keep going. We’ve brought you over 95 episodes so far and over 35,000 of you have joined up. Read more about TAL + Patreon here. We’re trying a first push to get 10% of our subscriber base to give a dollar or more a month to TAL. If you get something out of TAL, will you help put something back in? Think of TAL as your new favorite publicly funded media source.

Encounters Unforeseen: A Bicultural Retelling of 1492 with Andrew Rowen

In this Conversations episode, This Anthro Life hosts Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins are joined by author Andrew Rowen to discuss his new novel, Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold. Coming in the months trailing the 525th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s (or Cristobal Colon’s) voyage to the America’s, Rowen’s novel seeks to add some much needed depth to the modern myths on the subject. Encounters Unforeseen doesn’t start at the (in)famous voyage, or even in Europe. Instead, The drama alternates among three Taíno chieftains—Caonabó, Guacanagarí, and Guarionex—and Bakoko, a Taíno youth seized by Columbus, Spain’s Queen Isabella I of Castile, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Columbus. 

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Coming to Our Senses

In this Conversations episode of This Anthro Life, Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins explore the subject of sensory ethnography –  a focus in anthropology that tends to deemphasize the written word to explore visual, acoustic, and other sensory perceptions. Today, researchers explore senses increasing in the media through virtual simulations, visual and auditory stimuli that cause different reactions (fostering disorientation or meditative states), and of course art. But, how we perceive the world around us can also be influenced by culture and our surroundings, from music, to dance, to collective effervescence. After all, viral examples in recent years (like the infamous dress), demonstrate that human perception varies visually from person to person (often in the recognition of more or less recognized colors in the light spectrum). Individual distinctions aside, as humans we’re limited in our generally ability to sense and see the world around (infrared and ultraviolet light are imperceptible to us, for example). Yet, tactile sense is intrinsic to our relatively unique to our ability to produce and use tools. Though it tends to overlooked and under recognized in most anthropological settings, sense is critical to the human experience. This episode explores just a few examples of projects related to sensory ethnography and how they take us beyond our everyday experience of the perceived world around us. Read More