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Re: [SACC-L] more on the end of anthropology programs

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  • Mark Lewine
    Yes, Bob is right, as usual...this is a strategy I used in the business model days, when movers and shakers still recognized that we were a college, but they
    Message 1 of 4 , May 10, 2011
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      Yes, Bob is right, as usual...this is a strategy I used in the "business model" days, when movers and shakers still recognized that we were a college, but they insisted on applying a business model to every function...I found that I could get the "bigwigs" out simply by having newsworthy events like archaeological dig sites. Once we became corporate, the corporate club could not be bothered, they sent their deans to represent while they interacted only in their clubs. Even when I won the national Carnegie award, they just sent me to media with the PR specialists or had the marketing people create events where they would show up, say stuff, and leave...never interact, never relate to anything involving the rabble in the street. I even had NPR do a show about my class and no one in our District admin office even commented. They now have bullet-proof plexiglass barriers in their central admin building and require a flunkie to escort visitors after checking their purpose for being in the building...this happened after one homeless person found his way into the building.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Bob Muckle
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, May 09, 2011 1:08 PM
      Subject: [SACC-L] more on the end of anthropology programs



      I think Dianne's and Lloyd's comments about engaging administrators or other decision-makers in the experience of classroom anthropology is a good one, although perhaps too late for Cuyahoga. It is a strategy I too have found useful, albeit for my annual archaeology field school rather than in the classroom. I do my best to get senior administrators (and their support staff) out and into the field with my field school students each year. I also often invite faculty from other disciplines. Over the years I have been able to persuade several deans and two VPs to actively engage in the field school for at least a few hours (letting them look or excavate in areas where they are likely to find something, and place them with the most engaging students).

      Besides just wanting to share, I want administrators to make informed decisions when they make cuts. I know that the archaeology program is a bit more costly than other programs, so when budget decisions are being made, I imagine the archaeology program must come up. When those decisions are made, I want the VPs and deans to remember their experience in the field, including engaging with students.

      I like getting faculty from other disciplines involved because I likewise may want their support one day should the administrators decide to cut the archaeology program. Besides other social scientists I have actively (and successfully) encouraged faculty from the natural sciences and career areas to visit the site. As with administrators, I like to share the excitement but also I know I may need their support one day.

      This all leads me to thinking of the importance of maintaining collegiality among faculty from other disciplines. It may not only be the administrators that need to be wooed; it might be worth the effort to keep faculty from other departments in mind as well. Administrators can sometimes be convinced to spread cuts around laterally rather than make deep, vertical cuts to a single department.

      And the support can extend beyond a single institution. Over the years I have also had about a dozen anthropology/archaeology professors and 50 graduate students from the local big research universities visit my field project. Should my administrators decide to cut archaeology, I will be calling on those professors and grad students for support.

      I am quite disturbed by the threat of dismantling the anthropology program at Cuyahoga. I know it is an excellent program. I modeled much of the field studies program at Capilano after the Cuyahoga program led my Mark, and I know the current instructor (Beth) is excellent as well. I'm still in shock. I congratulate Mark for making a stand for this and offer him my unqualified support.

      Bob





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    • Bob Muckle
      I recall a short article that was published several years ago on the status of anthropology in academia, written by a university president (and former
      Message 2 of 4 , May 16, 2011
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        I recall a short article that was published several years ago on the status of anthropology in academia, written by a university president (and former anthropologist/archaeologist).

        The author was Steadman Upham, and the article was published in SAA Archaeological Record (available free-on-line several years ago).

        My recollection is that the article suggested, from an administrators point of view, anthropology was already perceived to have low status on the hierarchy of academic disciplines and was further descending. According to the article, anthropology was largely considered irrelevant in today's world. The view of many administrators was that anthropology had lost its distinctiveness, with its central concepts such as culture and methods such as ethnography having been successfully co-opted by other disciplines.

        So, perhaps something to consider is that it isn't that administrators do not understand anthropology; perhaps it is more that they do understand it and perhaps see the value of it. Still though, they think others can do it better. Including those with degrees in English, business and other disciplines.

        Bob







        Upham states "...there is a general perception among many university administrators of academic irrelevance and intellectual disarray in social sciences and humanities. Anthropologoy is included among the fields that are suspect in this regard."
      • George Thomas
        I think I ve seen that one by Steadman Upham, and many other similar papers, articles, essays and dire pronouncements.   It s possible to see the diplomatic
        Message 3 of 4 , May 17, 2011
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          I think I've seen that one by Steadman Upham, and many other similar papers, articles, essays and dire pronouncements.
           
          It's possible to see the diplomatic advantage of moving anthro in among business, English, sociology (what is "applied anthro" if not glorified social work?  Problems?  I know!...) and related disciplines. The way it seems to be moving, however, is the disenfranchisement of anthropologists and the teaching of the discipline through graduate levels by business and management folks.  Many of the points of debate within our tidy little multi-field would become sanitized as the whole discipline is streamlined into a set of acceptable management techniques. 
           
          Political science in its "international relations" incarnation had this down to theoretical levels under headings of "neo-realism."  In the 60s, when computer models of the global "big picture" were relatively new ideas, people wrote seriously about ethnic and regional interests being irrelevant.  They were at "the unit level of analysis," while "systemic" interests could be number-crunched, and were at the "systemic level of analysis."  Things might get uglier, unless people in all these fields can air out their concerns.... as they always have, through conventions and publications.  But how many of us read economics, literary or political science journals regularly?  A lot of the problem stems from the fact that everyone's so darned busy.
           
          (What a great time to find your position has been declared obsolete!)
           
          And I imagine archaeologists would finally be fully devoured within engineering and construction firms as ancillary staffs.
           
          Recently I think I may have observed one angle of this as a microcosm within one cultural anthro class.  After our viewing of the documentary "Ishi: The Last Yahi," many expressed dislike, not of the maddening difficulties of popular misconceptions within society and acknowledgment of the old attitudes within both cultural and physical anthropology, but of the MOVIE. 
           
          The Ishi story and anthropology are both, in a sense, "the messenger," and many believe it's a good idea to slay them.
          G
           
          more on the end of anthropology programs
              Posted by: "Bob Muckle" bmuckle@... canadianarchaeologist
              Date: Mon May 16, 2011 4:03 pm ((PDT))


          I recall a short article that was published several years ago on the status of anthropology in academia, written by a university president (and former anthropologist/archaeologist).

          The author was Steadman Upham, and the article was published in SAA Archaeological Record (available free-on-line several years ago).

          My recollection is that the article suggested, from an administrators point of view, anthropology was already perceived to have low status on the hierarchy of academic disciplines and was further descending. According to the article, anthropology was  largely considered irrelevant in today's world. The view of many administrators was that anthropology had lost its distinctiveness, with its central concepts such as culture and methods such as ethnography having been successfully co-opted by other disciplines. 

          So, perhaps something to consider is that it isn't that administrators do not understand anthropology; perhaps it is more that they do understand it and perhaps see the value of it. Still though, they think others can do it better. Including those with degrees in English, business and other disciplines.

          Bob

          Upham states "...there is a general perception among many university administrators of academic irrelevance and intellectual disarray in social sciences and humanities. Anthropologoy is included among the fields that are suspect in this regard."





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