Public Anthropology

MEAD Project Proposal Ideas – Round #2

Overview:  As students, you have engaged in a series of activities called “Public Anthropology” this semester.  These activities – your readings, assignments, and discussions – were inspired by Margaret Mead’s foundational engagement with wider publics, and not just with other anthropologists.  Our thinking and approach are also based on departmental outcomes and principals outlined below.   

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Objective:  Communicate an empirical, holistic, and contextualized anthropological approach to a broader public debate or problem in the form of an empirically and holistically based “question”.
Outcome:  A MEAD Talk, MEAD object, or multimedia approach that effectively communicates the anthropological engagement to a wider debate, question, or issue.

The ULTIMATE Assignment: Your ultimate goal is to create your own MEAD Project; this is the “proposal” stage.  A MEAD Project is a public presentation to a non-specialist audience on a topic of critical import.  It is not an original “research” paper or project.  Rather, it is drawing from anthropological research and evidence to re-present the importance and significance of anthropological discourses and data using a multi-subfield approach (archaeology/material culture, bio-physical, linguistic, cultural, medical).  You may see examples of previous MEAD Projects.

In other words, these projects are designed to insert your collective anthropological wisdom into a wider public debate, illustrating the critical import and unique ability of anthropological data and discourses to address the broad and existential concerns of humanity.  Some potential formats include:
1. Film/YouTube Video
2. interactive Documentary,  Creating a “mystery” or explorer game/experience
3. Podcast, TED Talk
4. Museum display
5. Website/Blogsite
6. Theorizing an Immersive Experience (Theme Park, Virtual World, Video Game)
7. Written work (a series of letters, blogs, white papers, business plans, grant applications)

Your MEAD projects should be something you can “take with you;” something that you can be proud of and show to potential employers, graduate schools, or use again in the future.

FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT:  In one post of appx. 500 words, and building from your initial thoughts write-up and subsequent group discussion in class, answer the following questions in the format of a project proposal

1. What broad topic will you engage with your public anthropology project?  What specific issue or project that you are committed to (i.e. your “Big Idea” or a human/social issue about which you feel strongly)?  Answer this by discussing and exemplifying the “broad” (i.e. Diversity & Inclusion) as well as potential “specifics” (i.e. “social stratification through the built environment, “race” issues at college through public discourses, etc). NOTE: This will be refined from last week’s assignment.

2. You should include SPECIFIC references to at least ONE+ SPECIFIC CASE STUDIES OR EXAMPLES you want to engage  (cite where appropriate).

3. What format or portfolio object have you chosen (i.e. video, Ted talk, museum display, white/policy paper, podcast)?  Why and how does your topic lend itself well to your chosen format, especially considering public consumption of your work?

ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THIS:  What is your topic and why is it crucial, give empirical evidence, what is your proposed structure and format?  THIS SHOULD BE SUBSTANTIVELY DIFFERENT FROM YOUR “INITIAL THOUGHTS” POST.

The Short Activities Rubric will be used to grade this exercise.

1. Anthropological Perspectives (1) Exhibits awareness and understanding of ethnocentrism, cultural relativity, contexts, and power in all activities;
2. Course Concepts & Examples (1) Directly and appropriately utilizes course terminology in all writing and activities; Describes and utilizes appropriate examples from course materials (readings, films, individual fieldwork, media sources);
3. Follows Instructions & Puts in Effort (3)  Is this a compare/contrast discussion?  Did you find outside sources if required?  Were you supposed to upload an image?  Follow the directions!!  And put in some effort. For more information on Public Anthropology visit this:

Public Anthropology

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