Get access

ANTHROPOLOGICAL PRAXIS IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Authors


Abstract

The civic value of higher education is in question. Employers, legislators, parents, and students demand “relevant” and “useful” college degrees, especially from urban public universities. Industries seek informed and skilled graduates to strengthen our economy, solve problems, and build healthy and sustainable communities. Public universities, embedded in labor-market relations, increasingly seek funded partnerships with communities, organizations, and agencies that will lead to practical and (hopefully) favorable outcomes for each constituency. The engaged university may be a symptom of neoliberal policies, and the “audit cultures” that these foster; but it may also be a movement by college faculty, students, and administrators who, with social justice as the reference point of their work, engage in community-based research as critics of raw economic development, and as agents of responsible community development. Here I discuss my academic workload as anthropological praxis in the three areas of faculty performance evaluation: engaged research, instruction, and service. I demonstrate the ways through which applied anthropology helped me to promote “engagement” at Georgia State University as a core value, goal, and practice in my capacities as ethnographer, an educator, and a citizen. This model of engagement illustrates the potential for engaged fieldwork, the hallmark of applied anthropology, to strengthen our contributions to the publics that support us, and to institutions of higher education that may benefit from our theories, ethics, and methods for the advancement of social justice within, and outside, the walls of academia.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary