Do we need a WWU Ethnography Lab?


I’ve been thinking lately about how anthropology is changing from the lone ethnographer model to team based science. Historically, anthropologists tend to go out to a new research site and work on projects, and while this may be a good model for graduate students, it might not be the best approach for undergraduate students that are still applying theory and learning research methods. The biological sciences, however, often work as teams or have several individuals from one lab working on different, though related questions, at the same research site.

As I think look at the model at different institutions, I think WWU Anthropology can benefit from a lab structure… so, stay tuned for the formation of the WWU Medical Anthropology Lab.  Also, maybe our department needs a dedicated shared lab space for ethnographic projects?  A dedicated room with white boards, sofas, computers with Nvivo, SPSS or R, UCINET and other social networking software?  I imagine teams of students will use the space and perhaps we can use the area as a hub to develop interdisciplinary projects?

I’ve also been pondering the increasingly large number of independent students that seek me out.While independent studies are perhaps one of the best ways for students to gain advanced knowledge or skills, much of what students do in each section is the same.  All my students learn how to conduct a literature review, write proposals, and write papers/posters, etc.  Maybe instead they should be brought together in a single class?  And if the numbers are high enough, maybe this should replace one of my regularly taught classes?  I’m not sure t how to make this works, but a lot of ideas are developing.  Have in idea to share?  Send me an email.  I would love to hear how your lab works or if you have developed something similar.