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Annals of Anthropological Practice

RESPONDING TO COMMUNITY NEEDS THROUGH LINKING ACADEMIC AND PRACTICING ANTHROPOLOGY: AN ENGAGED SCHOLARLY FRAMEWORK

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Abstract

We argue in this article that applied anthropology offers a compelling model for conducting engaged scholarship in higher education and developing an engaged scholarship platform. As colleges and universities increasingly endorse meaningful ways to address critical needs of their wider communities, anthropology faculty, students, and alumni can lead the way in forging successful and effective partnerships and grappling with crucial community needs. With the growth of participatory action research—and its theoretical and methodological perspective—anthropologists have tackled challenging societal issues in collaboration with community partners (Schensul 2005). Typically this entails involving multiple stakeholders in the articulation of solutions. Anthropology is in a prime position to take the lead in advancing the “engaged university” model. This article builds upon Baba's thesis (2009) that the survival of the discipline of anthropology is linked to its relevance in addressing critical societal issues and its ability to integrate the work of academic and practicing anthropologists. Many approaches from anthropology can be drawn upon as promising models for community connectedness. We offer an example from the University of Memphis that has been particularly effective: through their research and practical experience as students of anthropological study, alumni cycle back into collaborative ties with faculty and other alumni and nonanthropological colleagues, connecting the community with the university in a dynamic and productive system. In addition, long-term commitment to addressing relevant local issues such as poverty and health disparities through analysis and reflection of outcomes is critical to developing a meaningful engaged scholarly tradition.

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