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date: 28 November 2022

Educational Anthropology and Engaged Approaches to Teaching and Learninglocked

Educational Anthropology and Engaged Approaches to Teaching and Learninglocked

  • Fredy Rodríguez-MejíaFredy Rodríguez-MejíaAugustana College


Since the field’s early years, anthropology has been concerned with processes of teaching and learning. While early anthropological works were comparative in nature—examining schooling systems around the world in relation to those in US society—scholars gradually began to focus more on educational issues in the US. Efforts to bring together the works of scholars of pedagogy and anthropologists slowly morphed into what we now call “educational anthropology” or “anthropology and education.” In tracing the history of the relationship of anthropology and education, scholars have examined how different historical moments have shaped anthropology’s development as a profession, discipline, and specialization. Different publications have focused on exploring anthropology’s transformation following World War II. Funding from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation contributed to the growth of anthropology as a discipline and profession and helped bolster its role as an academic specialization. The growth of social mobilization in the 1960s, which highlighted issues of inequality, racial discrimination, and political crises, also contributed to a growth in students majoring in anthropology to study these issues. The rise in undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology further helped to increase the establishment of anthropology departments across the United States and the allocation of public funding to improve pedagogical approaches. In the same vein, educational anthropology contributed to the examination of teaching/learning processes but also looking at education in relationship to broader social issues (e.g., inequality, culture, gender, identity). Since the 1980s, the development of educational anthropology has occurred in parallel with other academic efforts to improve instructional approaches. The scholarship of teaching and learning for instance, has focused on exploring different pedagogical approaches in higher education with the purpose of improving teaching methodologies to enhance student learning. Some of these approaches include active learning, engaged learning, and service learning. In the realm of innovative educational approaches, community service learning has focused on establishing long-term partnerships between universities and communities. Such collaborative settings exhibit an overlap with undergraduate anthropological approaches to education, helping to introduce students to the intricacies of social issues as they are experienced in actual communities.


  • Applied Anthropology

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