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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 

The Department of Anthropology’s new sequence of engaged learning courses is designed to help students prepare for and make the most of engaged learning and study abroad opportunities at Cornell.  In these courses, students will engage with the diverse community on campus in Ithaca, hone the anthropological skills needed for intercultural communication and reflection, and develop an ePortfolio to share what they have learned.

These courses are designed as part of a sequence to enable students to build on their skills and revise their ePortfolios as they progress, but students are welcome to take just one or two courses. 

New courses - Fall 2017

Anthropology 1900:  Global Engagements: Living and Working in a Diverse World

Anthropology 3901:  Going Global: Preparing for Engaged Learning

Anthropology 3902:  Coming Home: Making the Most of Engaged Experiences

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