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Engaged Anthropology

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Anthropology is by definition engaged.  We work collaboratively with communities around the world to advance human understanding and to contribute constructively to local needs and concerns.  The Department of Anthropology is contributing to Cornell’s wider program of Engaged Learning in two ways.  First, we are developing a series of innovative courses to be launched in 2017 that will train students in the skills vital to intercultural research and empirical, theoretical or policy intervention.  Second, we are committed to nurturing courses and collaborations that can provide students with “Field Encounters,” which place the experience of being “in the field” at the heart of the major.

Current Engaged Learning opportunities include:

  • Cornell Nepal Program
  • Nilgiris Field Station
  • Global Health Program: Tanzania
  • Drugs and Social Justice

In-development field encounters include:

  • Urban Ethnography in New York City
  • Global Heritage in Armenia
  • Criminal Justice and Prison Worlds
  • Slavery and Human Trafficking


Engaged Learning courses 

New courses - Fall 2017


Anthropology 1900

Global Engagements: Living and Working in a Diverse World

4 credits -- Fall 2017

How can we engage with diverse communities, both in Ithaca and across the globe?

Learn to:

● Prepare for global engaged learning experiences from across campus

● Practice ethnographic skills (interviewing, participant-observation)

● Develop critical reflection practices that support intercultural learning

● Conduct service learning projects on campus and in the Ithaca community

Intended for first-year and second-year students interested in experiential learning


Anthropology 3901

Going Global: Preparing for Engaged Learning

2 credits -- second half of Fall 2017 semester

So you’re planning to study abroad! Now what?

Learn to:

● Develop the skills and sensitivities to navigate cross-cultural encounters

● Practice ethnographic skills (interviewing, participant-observation)

● Research the culture and history of your host country

● Engage with international students on Cornell’s campus

Intended for students departing on study abroad programs (or other engaged learning programs) in the spring or summer


Anthropology 3902

Coming Home: Making the Most of Engaged Experiences

2 credits (first half of Fall 2017 semester)

How has your study abroad program shaped you? What will you take from that experience going forward?

Learn to:

● Reflect on “culture shock,” power inequalities, and moments of personal growth

● Articulate the meaning of global citizenship

● Design an ePortfolio to share your experience

● Mentor younger students preparing to travel abroad

Intended for students returning to campus from study abroad programs (or other engaged learning programs)


Questions about these courses?

Contact Hayden Kantor, Postdoctoral Associate for Global Engaged Learning, for more information.


Study Abroad

The Department of Anthropology encourages students to consider a semester of study abroad or off-campus study developed as an integral part of the student's major concentration. Anthropologically relevant study abroad options, using existing Cornell Abroad and off-campus options, can be worked out in consultation with the major adviser, the Anthropology Study Abroad adviser and Cornell Abroad.

Nilgiris Field Learning Center

The NFLC is a unique partnership that aligns Cornell faculty and students with experts and community members in the Nilgiris, the “blue hills” of southern India.

  • The NFLC learning community explores nutrition and health, land use, and livelihoods in a region recognized for its biodiversity.
  • Students develop research skills in an engaged, field-based environment.
  • Projects address community-identified issues:
  • Community wellness and changing approaches to healing
  • Dietary diversity, eating habits and sourcing patterns in local food systems
  • Contested forest lands as space for food, farming and trade
  • Infant feeding practices in the context of maternal health and social networks
  • Water and waste infrastructure in an urbanizing environment

Students interested in NFLC can contact Professor Andrew Willford at

The Cornell-Nepal Study Program

The Cornell-Nepal Study Program is a joint program of Cornell University and Tribhuvan University, the national university of Nepal. Qualified juniors, seniors and first- or second-year graduate students work with faculty from both universities to prepare for and undertake field research projects in Nepal. Students receive 15 credits per semester; students may enroll for either fall or spring semester or for the entire year; application is through Cornell Abroad. For further information, consult David Holmberg or Kathryn March in the Department of Anthropology.

The Global Health Program

The Cornell University Global Health Program offers a minor in global health.  This program is intended to compliment any academic major at the University and provide students with basic knowledge about global health, as well as the necessary skills and experience to build their own unique global health career.  For more information, visit the Global Health website.

Study Abroad Links