Anthropology 450: Senior Seminar in Anthropology. This Course satisfies the college’s CUE (Cumulative Undergraduate Experience) requirement (and a 300+ elective for your Anthropology major).
Dr. Benjamin Carter
Up-to-date contact information (including office hours) is available here
All students are required to read Dr. Carter’s Policies. You are responsible for understanding and following these policies. If you have a question, I hope you will ask during class since fellow students will likely have similar questions. However, you are also welcome to ask after class or visit office hours.
This course is designed as a CUE, a cumulative undergraduate experience. The idea is that this course helps you bring together your course work within your anthropology major (and ideally beyond since this is a liberal arts institution). You will be completing your own research project by proposing a topic, researching and understanding both a topical and theoretical background, proposing methods and collecting data, interpreting that data and presenting it publicly. As Anthropology majors, you have experienced many classes where you consumed information derived from research. Now is your time to become part of that community. You will construct knowledge that does not exist anywhere else in this world (as far as you know at this point). Not only is this important for those of you continuing on to graduate school, but it is also one of the most marketable projects that you can talk about in a job interview. Employers want to know that you both understand how knowledge is constructed and that you can help them better understand the world (even if it to market to customers). This also provides you with the space to really deeply think about what it means to be a growing anthropologist. What research can you do that helps us move towards a world that is more fair and just?
In terms of content, students will be able to:
- Integrate the anthropological history, theory, knowledge and methods that you have learned over your four years at Muhlenberg.
- Learn more about what it is that professional anthropologists situated in a variety of locations within the discipline do and how anthropologists are have responded to and investigated their chosen research topic.
- Design, carry out, and present the results of an original empirical research project.
- Improve giving and receiving constructive criticism to and from one’s peers.
You will be required to read appropriate entries from the following three texts:
H. Russell Bernard and Clarence C. Gravlee, eds. 2015. Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/lib/muhlenberg/detail.action?docID=1734036 (free ebook through the library)
McGee, R. J., and Richard L. Warms, eds. 2013 Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452276311 or https://sk-sagepub-com.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/reference/theory-in-social-and-cultural-anthropology .
Stein, Felix, ed. 2023. The Open Encyclopedia of Anthropology. https://www.anthroencyclopedia.com/
The structure of this class is fully designed around conducting a research project. Most of our time in class will be spend discussing how to do this and where students are at in their process. It’s about using the community of the classroom to construct better, clear and more impactful research.
Distribution of Assessments
- Daily Assignments- 30%
- Process Assignments- 30%
- Final Paper- 30%
- Presentation- 10%
Descriptions of Assessments
Please note that you will receive additional information as the semester progresses. Below is only intended as a summary.
Daily Assignments: For each class meeting, students will submit a single citation with a few sentences about that reading. The goal of this assignment is to ensure that you are constantly moving forward with your research and getting new information. We will not be doing this as you wrap up your writing towards the end of the semester.
Process Assignments: You will be assigned different components of your research (proposal, lit review, etc.). This will help keep you on schedule. This will include both components that will be in your final paper as well as those that help build towards that paper, but won’t actually be in it (e.g. proposal).
Final Paper: This is the full paper (see description here). It may seem like this is “double jeopardy” (that is grading the same thing twice) because many of the pieces in this will have been in the Process Assignments. This is somewhat true, but the final paper, which will contain some of those process pieces, will be significantly edited to create a single, fluid document. That is it is significantly more than a sum of its components. Note that the initial draft and final draft will be included in this component of your grade.
Presentation: The goal of research is to produce new knowledge. If you do not share that knowledge then the research was a waste of your time and, often, money. So, your research will be presented at the Senior Symposium for the department (with both Anthropology and Sociology majors) at the end of the semester. Normally, CUE students will present a poster which you will stand next to and discuss with attendees (e.g. your parents, friends, etc.).
Class LMS (“Learning” Management System)
For this course, we will be using our Learning Management System (LMS) known as Canvas. Our schedule and many course materials live on Canvas. You will turn in most assignments via Canvas. Canvas provides excellent online documentation for nearly anything. Here is a link to the Student Guide. However, even Canvas representatives have encouraged us to just Google “canvas lms” and whatever you want to do (e.g., if you want to find the location of the calendar, just google “Canvas lms calendar”).
Your official calendar is in Canvas. I highly encourage you to download the app (just Google “Canvas lms” along with your platform, e.g., “IOS” or “Android”) and/or synchronize your Canvas calendar with your calendar on your phone/computer using the iCal feed (Click here for instructions; note that what you do on your phone depends upon your device, but it is pretty straight forward).