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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Teaching and Learning Anthropology publishes analytical, reflective, and review articles on the topic of teaching and learning anthropology. The journal also publishes original undergraduate and graduate anthropological research and writing. We hope to engage a broad audience of students and faculty through open-access publishing.

We are currently seeking submissions from anthropologists in all subfields. 


Diverse Student Experiences in Higher Education: Implications for the Anthropology Classroom

The articles in this special collection were presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology meeting in 2018 on a panel affiliated with the organization’s Issues in Higher Education Topical Interest Group. This topical interest group focuses on examining how ongoing shifts in student demographics, financial challenges, and national policy impact decision-making and practice at all levels of the institution in complex ways. The articles in this collection explore educational experiences and needs of college students from their perspectives within the broader context of a rapidly changing higher education landscape and with a focus on applying this knowledge to teaching practices in the anthropology classroom. The authors present ethnographic research on students’ experiences, discuss implications of findings for the anthropology classroom, and provide concrete strategies that instructors can implement to address students’ needs. In doing so, they bring together two fields of study that often appear in the literature as separate areas of focus – the anthropology of higher education and the teaching of anthropology.


Diversity, Difference, and Safety: Adapting Service-Learning for Diverse Students

As American universities become more diverse, it is necessary to consider if existing pedagogies remain relevant and meaningful for all students. This paper examines service-learning, a community engagement pedagogy originally developed for white, middle-class students, by exploring the experiences of residential undergraduate students of color attending a small liberal arts college in rural Virginia. Rather than rejecting service-learning, I suggest reimagining some service-learning practices – particularly the definition of service, the values of reciprocity and collaboration, and preparation for service – in order to meet the needs and experiences of an increasingly diverse population of college students.

Nontraditional Students: Understanding and Meeting their Needs in the Anthropology Classroom

In light of the fact that nontraditional students (those age 25 years or older) outnumber traditional students on many US college campuses, it is important to understand their needs and experiences in higher education. A key characteristic distinguishing nontraditional students from traditional-aged college students is the high likelihood that they are juggling multiple competing demands and stressors, including parenthood, work, marriage, and financial responsibility. The findings presented here are part of a larger study that included in-depth interviews with 25 nontraditional undergraduate students at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU or Highlands). This article highlights the narratives of five of these nontraditional students to illustrate the range of experiences that emerged across the sample. The authors reflect on how learning these narratives has influenced their personal approaches to teaching and engaging with nontraditional students and provide strategies for supporting nontraditional students in the anthropology classroom.

Understanding How Undergraduate Students Experience and Manage Stress: Implications for Teaching and Learning Anthropology

Research has shown that negative effects of stress on undergraduate students can have a significant impact on their college experience. Most of what we know about this topic is quantitative, based on surveys that provide self-reported information for large numbers of college students. The present study provides an in-depth qualitative perspective on college students and stress that foregrounds the voices of these emerging adults. Specifically, in this article we (a) share findings from a study using qualitative methods to examine how college students experience and manage stress and (b) provide strategies to help anthropology instructors design and manage their classes to improve learning for students under chronic stress.


Transforming Teaching towards Empowered Learning: What #MeToo Taught Us about Anthropology

This article calls for revisiting how we teach anthropology in light of three mutually reinforcing “moments” – the #MeToo Movement, the development of the American Anthropological Association’s first Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Policy, and shifting student expectations regarding personal safety and wellbeing. By thinking anthropologically about anthropology, against a backdrop of larger questions for the discipline as a whole, we single out the consequences of the “lone anthropologist” trope as it reproduces idealized notions of fieldwork in ways that limit access to the discipline. We suggest ten practical strategies for changing normative pedagogies as a way to increase benefits and reduce harms as we work to minimize risk for sexual violence while preserving the benefits of immersive fieldwork. We conclude by exploring how the classroom itself is feeding back into transforming cultures and institutional structures.


Student Autobiographical Essays as Person-Centered Ethnography: Building Empathy with a New Approach to Anthropological Interviewing Assignments

Interviewing assignments are frequent components of cultural anthropology courses. In this exercise, students focus on the content of person-centered ethnographic interviews by providing the material themselves. Students write autobiographical narratives that are shared anonymously with the class. This allows them to explore the strengths and limitations of using personal narratives as data, while also considering the role of audience and the challenge of making respondents anonymous. The exercise’s greatest impact, however, comes from giving students firsthand experience with the power of listening to people’s stories, and the assignment has proven remarkably successful at building empathy among a diverse peer group.