Anthropology has a long and distinguished history of contributing directly to the major issues facing all educators. Throughout its history, the discipline has offered powerful alternatives. Anthropologists have participated in the shaping of policy and reform at all levels, from the most general to the most local. They have applied the main insights of the discipline to the concerns of all professionals, in schools, health, and psychology.
Anthropological research has had a strong impact on the understanding of the entry of matters of social class, ethnicity, language, race, gender, and other factors into issues of educational achievement, of health disparity, disability, among other concerns. Anthropologists insistence on the power of non-school settings in the shaping of learning has been similarly powerful.
Anthropologists have done all this through their use of proven ways of knowing, specifically ethnography, that are distinct from those used by other disciplines.
The faculty at Teachers College and Columbia University have participated in these developments for more than half-a-century and they continue to do so in many aspects of the application of the discipline.
The mission of the Programs in Anthropology and Education, and Applied Anthropology, is to build on this developing tradition by helping students understand the ways of knowing specific to the discipline, apply them to practical issues, and participate in the continuing evolution of the field, including better methods for application. We do this by building a highly personal academic environment within the larger university complex.