Anthropology and Education | International & Transcultural Studies

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Anthropology and Education

Department of International & Transcultural Studies

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Program Description

Within Columbia University, Teachers College has been a pioneer in exploring how anthropology can be engaged in public conversations about practical matters. This has led to the creation of two programs, one in Anthropology and Education and the other in Applied Anthropology. These two programs function as one entity and provide a unique research and training experience for a very select group of students. This highly personal academic environment within the larger university maximizes the interaction between students and faculty while offering a variety of scholarly and professional resources.

Both programs prepare students to enter current research and policy conversations about education, health, the environment, and other fields to which anthropology can contribute. The programs are built on the premise that one can apply anthropology only to the extent that one has been rigorously trained in the theory and methodology of the discipline. The program combines systematic theoretical training with courses on qualitative research methods, including participant observation, advanced ethnographic methods, and discourse analysis. We encourage students to conduct "on- the-ground" research, applying their emerging methodological expertise to situations across the globe. Many of our students also use their training to better social inequality around the world.

The faculty has a distinguished record of publications and research projects, most of which have been conducted in the United States, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe.

Anthropology and Education

The program in Anthropology and Education prepares professionals and researchers to analyze and understand educational processes in schools and classrooms, in families, on street corners, in community centers, in churches, and in all settings where education may proceed. The department houses the largest group of anthropologists of education to be found in any university in the world. It has been, for decades, one of the prominent places to study the anthropology of education.

Applied Anthropology (a joint program)

In 1968, Teachers College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Columbia University implemented a joint program of Applied Anthropology. This joint venture is open to graduate students registered at either graduate school. By this agreement, all applied anthropological training at Columbia University is administered through Teachers College. The joint program offers a course of study and thorough training in applied anthropology that is certified by both institutions and capitalizes on the strength of the university’s faculty.

This program focuses on the complex issues involved in applying anthropological knowledge and approaches to matters of policy at global, national, and local levels. Students work in a variety of areas, including education, international development, businesses and corporations, the environment, and health.

Resources

Both the Anthropology and Education and the Applied Anthropology programs are conducted in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Barnard College, the School of International and Public Affairs, and other professional schools and institutions of the University. Students have access to courses across the university.

In addition, our location in New York City allows students easy access to a myriad of prestigious academic and research institutions. Doctoral students may take courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (for participating institutions, see the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium section in this catalog). They frequently become involved in the plethora of international organizations in New York, and they collaborate with the diverse individuals who call New York home.

Most graduates find academic posts and administrative positions in colleges, universities, and professional schools. Others locate in federal and international agencies, research institutes, private foundations, medical institutions, consulting firms, and social welfare and community service organizations in the United States and abroad.

Degrees

  • Master of Arts

    • Points/Credits: 32

      Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Master of Arts program in Anthropology and Education offers a disciplinary approach that carefully explores and contributes to the analysis and understanding of educational processes in all settings where education may proceed.

      Administrators, counselors, evaluators, and research associates can improve their work through learning how anthropological methods are applied to educational problems, policy, and practice. Students should choose an area of emphasis from Urban Education or Ethnographic Methods for Education Analysis.

      The program requires at least five courses (15 points) in anthropology. courses, (9 points) in Complementary/Other Concentration Courses (International & Comparative Education, applied linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology); and four other courses (8-9 points) that directly contribute to the emerging professional interest of the candidate or practical courses relative to future professional settings. The M.A. program requires an integrative project in addition to the 32-point program. M.A. students are also required to attend a bi-weekly one-hour MA Advising and Career Workshop, also to assist with the IP, for noncredit.

      To satisfy program breadth requirements, master's students must complete two Teachers College courses (for this purpose a course is defined as one in which at least 3 points are earned) outside the major program.

  • Master of Education

    • Points/Credits: 60

      Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Master of Education degree program is flexible, allowing students to address various professional concerns, satisfy diverse academic needs, and enhance professional skills.

      Minimally, candidates for the Ed.M. degree in Anthropology and Education take 40 points in courses related to the main fields of the discipline, including at least 24 points in anthropology. A minimum of five courses (15 points) must be taken in Complementary/Other Concentration Courses (International & Comparative Education, history, applied linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology). An additional 21 points must also be taken that directly contribute to the emerging professional interest of the candidate or practical courses relative to future professional settings. Students are also required to conduct an integrative project in addition to the 60 points of coursework. Ed.M. students are also required to attend a bi-weekly one-hour MA/Ed.M. Advising and Career Workshop, also to assist with the IP, for noncredit.

      To satisfy program breadth requirements, master's students must complete two Teachers College courses (for this purpose a course is defined as one in which at least 3 points are earned) outside the major program. These courses should be chosen so as to enhance the professional preparation of the student in his or her expected field of practice. Up to 30 of the required 60 points may be transferred from previous coursework to the extent that they fulfill some of the requirements listed above.

  • Doctor of Education

    • Points/Credits: 90

      Entry Terms: Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Doctor of Education degree is for students who plan to engage in scholarly writing and research, applied research and evaluation, or teaching and administrative responsibilities at colleges, universities, professional schools of education and medicine, research institutes, or state, federal, and international agencies and bureaus.

      A minimum of 90 points of acceptable graduate credit is required for the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). A minimum of 45 points must be completed through Teachers College registration. Forty-two points of major courses are required. These courses prepare students with the requisite knowledge of epistemological, theoretical, methodological, ethnographic, and substantive areas of anthropology. They aim to develop competency in the discipline, while addressing the specific intellectual interests of the student. Fifteen points in research methods and statistical courses are also required.

      An objective understanding of education and educational institutions, of persons and the learning process, and the various forms of measurement and evaluation in cognate areas prepares program graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for researching and working in a variety of formal and non-formal educational settings through 18 points of broad and basic areas.

      This leaves 15 points of electives to increase competence in comparative, regional or international studies, or to enhance technical skills used in conjunction with but outside the major course of study. At least three of these courses (8–9 points) must be taken in fields foundational to anthropology (economics, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology).

      Certification Requirements

      Certification is the means of indicating that the student is regarded as having attained the expected competencies of the program. An overall grade average of B+ is expected. In addition, students must complete a set of written examinations on topics relevant to Anthropology and Education and to Applied Anthropology.

      Dissertation Requirements

      After passing the written certification examination, the candidate prepares a dissertation proposal to be defended in oral examination. One or two years of anthropological field research is required for the collection of original field data based on the dissertation research proposal.

  • Doctor of Philosophy

    • Points/Credits: 75

      Entry Terms: Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Doctor of Philosophy degree is for students who plan to engage in scholarly writing and research, applied research and evaluation, or teaching and administrative responsibilities at colleges; universities; professional schools of education and medicine; research institutes; or state, federal, and international agencies and bureaus.

      Each student develops, in collaboration with an advisor, a program of study in anthropology designed to establish a high level of competency. A minimum of 75 points of acceptable graduate credit is required for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

      Of these 75 points, a maximum of 30 points may be transferred in courses from other recognized graduate schools. Forty-five points of Anthropology courses are required overall. Of these, up to 15 points in anthropology courses may be taken at other graduate institutions which are members of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

      These courses prepare students with the requisite knowledge of epistemological, theoretical, methodological, ethnographic, and substantive areas of anthropology. They aim to develop competency in the discipline, while addressing the specific intellectual interests of the student.

      Within the major course requirements, 30 points in required courses must be taken: the four-semester sequence of colloquia and summer field research, which represents the core training module of the program (a minimum of 12 points); two additional research methods coursesoutside of the first semester colloquium (6 points); and two area courses, one within and one complementary to one’s focus (6 points); and two sub-discipline courses outside of sociocultural anthropology (6 points), in linguistic anthropology, linguistics, or sociolinguistics.

      The remaining 15 points of electives are used to increase competence in comparative, regional, or international studies, or to enhance technical skills used in conjunction with but outside the major course of study. At least three of these courses (8-9 points) must be taken in fields foundational to anthropology (economics, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology). Of the 75 graduate points required for the degree, a minimum of 45 must be taken for an evaluative letter grade.

      Certification Requirements

      Certification is the means of indicating that the student is regarded as having attained the expected competencies of the program. An overall grade average of B+ is expected. In addition, students must complete a set of written examinations on topics relevant to Anthropology and Education or Applied Anthropology.

      Dissertation Requirements

      After passing the written certification examination, the candidate prepares a dissertation proposal to be defended in oral examination. One or two years of anthropological field research is required for the collection of original field data based on the dissertation research proposal.

      Foreign Language Requirement

      Each candidate must satisfy the foreign language requirement by demonstrating a high level of proficiency in one language other than English.

    • Points/Credits: 75

      Entry Terms: Summer/Fall

      Degree Requirements

      The Doctor of Philosophy degree is for students who plan to engage in scholarly writing and research, applied research and evaluation, or teaching and administrative responsibilities at colleges, universities, professional schools of education and medicine, research institutes, or state, federal, and international agencies and bureaus.

      Each student, in collaboration with an advisor, develops a program of study in anthropology designed to establish a high level of competency. A minimum of 75 points of acceptable graduate credit is required for the Doctor of Philosophy.

      Of these 75 points, a maximum of 30 points may be transferred in courses from other recognized graduate schools. Forty-five points of Anthropology courses are required overall. Of these, up to 15 points in anthropology courses may be taken at other graduate institutions which are members of the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

      These courses prepare students with the requisite knowledge of epistemological, theoretical, methodological, ethnographic, and substantive areas of anthropology. They aim to develop competency in the discipline, while addressing the specific intellectual interests of the student.

      Within the major course requirements, 30 points in required courses must be taken: the four-semester sequence of colloquia and summer field research,  which represents the core training module of the program; (a minimum of 12 points); two additional research methods courses outside of the first year colloquium (6 points); two area courses, one within and one complementary to one’s focus (6 points); and two sub-field courses outside of sociocultural anthropology (6 points), the two courses may be chosen from the same subfield or from two different subfields.The remaining 15 points of electives are used to increase competence in comparative, regional, or international studies, or to enhance technical skills used in conjunction with but outside the major course of study. At least three of these courses (8-9 points) must be taken in fields foundational to anthropology (economics, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology). Of the 75 graduate points required for the degree, a minimum of 45 must be taken for an evaluative letter grade.

      Certification Requirements

      Certification is the means of indicating that the student is regarded as having attained the expected competencies of the program. An overall grade average of B+ is expected. In addition, students must complete a set of written examinations on topics relevant to Anthropology and Education or Applied Anthropology.

      Dissertation Requirements

      After passing the written certification examination, the candidate prepares a dissertation proposal to be defended in oral examination. One or two years of anthropological field research is required for the collection of original field data based on the dissertation research proposal.

      Foreign Language Requirement

      Each candidate must satisfy the foreign language requirement by demonstrating a high level of proficiency in one language other than English.

Faculty

  • Faculty

    • Nicholas Limerick Associate Professor of Anthropology and Education
    • Herve H Varenne Professor of Education
  • Lecturers

    • Ellen Grey Gundaker Senior Lecturer in Anthropology
    • Amina UmAmir Tawasil Lecturer

Courses

  • ITSF 4010 - Cultural & Social Bases-Eductn
    This course is designed as an introduction to cultural anthropology for educators and education researchers.
  • ITSF 4011 - Contexts of education
    Review of fundamental anthropological concepts for the analysis of educational institutions and processes around the world.
  • ITSF 4012 - Cross-cultural studies of learning
    Analyses of basic anthropological concepts, with particular reference to the influence of cultures and subcultures on the learning process, to education in multicultural classrooms, and to the relevance of psychological anthropology to educational issues. Four-point enrollment requires attendance at film showings before or after class and additional discussion sessions held at hours to be arranged.
  • ITSF 4014 - Urban situations and education
    An introduction to the anthropological study of cities and how larger-scale urban relationships affect schooling. Emphasis is placed on understanding urban inequality.
  • ITSF 4016 - Culture and society in Africa
    A general survey of sub-Saharan Africa, using contributions from theoretical approaches to anthropological research in the area. Emphasis on socioeconomic, ideological and religious, educational, and political analysis of African communities.
  • ITSF 4018 - Anthropology and development in Africa
    This seminar considers issues and problems of development in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines specific development projects from different theoretical and empirical perspectives.
  • ITSF 4026 - Technology and culture
    An exploration of technologies, broadly defined, and the contexts of their development, use, and politics of distribution locally and globally, drawing on research in anthropology and related disciplines.
  • ITSF 4034 - Dynamics of family interaction
    This course has been developed with practitioners of anthropology, educators, health professionals and globalization in mind. This course focuses on family as an agentive space where people construct with what they have around them. This focus is organized on two anthropological positions for their applied utility. One, culture is understood as all-encompassing situated in context and history, and is also a politicized concept. Two, the course is developed from the comparative Boasian approach to understanding human phenomenon, that different causes produce like effects or like causes produce different effects. The course will begin with an overview of anthropological research on kinship and relatedness by exploring the various possibilities in the composition of a typical family, how the family is formed, and how belongingness is maintained in different parts of the world. The second portion of the course will be devoted to what impacts the family and vice versa. Finally, this course will engage categories such as biological and social bases of family, honor, sexuality, love, wealth, religion, and institutions such as schools, the humanitarian/development/human rights regimes, and the nation-state. Ethnographic examples throughout the semester will focus on the socio-historical context, concreteness of actions, and use of resources.
  • ITSF 4900 - Research independent study anthropology and education
    Advanced students may register for intensive individual study of some aspect of their concentration. Registration is only by permission of the instructor under whose guidance the work will be undertaken. Times for individual conferences will be arranged. Enrollment may be for 1 or more points each term, and registration is not limited to one or two terms.
  • ITSF 5000 - Introductory methods of ethnography and participant observation
    This course provides training in knowledge-production through ethnographic research using participant-observation. Students will be able to gain an understanding of ethnography as a way of knowing how people do what they do. Part one of the course will be devoted to research design, which includes developing different types of research questions, selecting sites and anthropological methods suitable for answering these questions, and examining anthropological approaches for applied purposes. Part two of the semester consists of looking at the difficulties of conducting research driven by established categories like culture, as well as the challenges inherent in ethnography such as objectivity, representation, and ethical dilemmas. This half of the semester will be dedicated to helping students produce a research study proposal that they will present to their cohort. Throughout the course, students will be reading examples of ethnographic research relevant to policy-making in order to understand how approaches to ethnography have developed. The peer-review process will be heavily implemented in this course, where students are given the opportunity to evaluate and comment on each other’s work. Students will be expected to study and read the assigned readings, and be able to participate in class discussions on the course readings. This course is foundational for students who are doing ethnographic fieldwork for their master’s IP or doctoral dissertation. There are no prerequisites.
  • ITSF 5001 - Advanced methods of ethnography and participant observation: fieldwork, analysis, reporting
    Permission required. ITSF 5000, 4902, or equivalent required. This course covers how to think about, analyze, and write up qualitative or ethnographic research . Students who enroll are expected to have already completed a significant amount of data collection. carried out preliminary qualitative research via participant observation, interviews, and/or social media that they can analyze in class. The course considers the role of theory in ethnography, different analytical traditions and techniques, including the basics of discourse analysis, and how to write about people in an inclusive way.
  • ITSF 5003 - Communication and culture
    This course covers theories and ethnographies from linguistic anthropology, or the study of how communication shapes and is shaped by social life. It considers examples from different educational contexts, such as literacy, exams, and teaching, and how they intersect with major categories of inequality such as race, class, and gender. Students are encouraged to think critically about communicative norms in institutions like schools and to apply the themes of the course to their own interests and backgrounds.
  • ITSF 5007 - Race, class and schooling: Ethnographic approaches
    This course asks how "race" and "class" shape and are shaped by schooling in the United States and other regions around the globe, privileging ethnography as the best way to find out how these broad concepts play out for diverse participants in diverse contexts, on the ground.
  • ITSF 5012 - The anthropology of the Caribbean and postcolonial society
    Caribbean experiences have been central to the development of postcolonial theory. This course draws on this work as well as research in anthropology and related fields to investigate how peoples in one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions on earth make sense of the past, flourish or just get by in the present, and envision workable futures in a globalizing and media saturated world.
  • ITSF 5013 - Psychological anthropology
    The concepts, theories, and methods of psychological anthropology. Cross-cultural studies of learning processes. Emphasis on recent work in the field, problems of cross-cultural methodology, and the study of socialization.
  • ITSF 5015 - Political anthropology: Labor, race, and belief
    This course considers the theories and concepts used by anthropologists and other social scientists in the analysis of political behavior and institutions. It analyzes contemporary theories for the study of power and their use in ethnographies of education. It also considers political topics, such as social movements and the state.
  • ITSF 5016 - Anthropology and Education
    Introduction to the anthropological investigation of educative institutions (villages, neighborhoods, families, peer groups, schools, etc.) and of the policy issues anthropology addresses.
  • ITSF 5018 - Drugs and Society
    Utilizing theoretical and methodological perspectives from social and cultural anthropology, this course is designed to explore the contextual dimensions of illicit drug use as well as other drug-related issues. A comparative, cross-cultural approach will be utilized and case material drawn from traditional as well as modern settings.
  • ITSF 5020 - Practicum in anthropological field techniques
    For anthropologists and non-anthropologists contemplating independent, qualitative research, this course provides hands-on experience in basic techniques for generating, recording, and managing anthropological data in the field.
  • ITSF 5037 - Global Literacies
    This course draws upon the sociology of language, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and the anthropology of literacy to consider current debates in the field as well as trends in language and literacy in international contexts, specifically in regards to evaluation, teacher training, and curriculum development.
  • ITSF 5045 - Globalization, Mobility & Education
    Drawing on the anthropology of globalization and sociology of immigration, the course reviews major theories of immigrant incorporation and exclusion processes, examines case studies of im/migrants, refugees, and displaced persons and their adaptation processes inherent in the process of migration, and considers educational practices and policies that develop in order to address mobility in diverse contexts. The course asks how cultural, social, political, and economic factors influence im/migrant incorporation, and how educators can facilitate im/migrant students’ opportunities for learning through changes in policies, pedagogies, and curricula.
  • ITSF 5610 - First-year colloquium in applied anthropology
    Permission required. This is a year-long critical review of important works in anthropology and education and applied anthropology. During the spring semester, students present proposals for their summer fieldwork before the members of both programs. Required of, and open only to, first-year doctoral students. Meets concurrently with ITSF 5611 during the spring semester.
  • ITSF 5611 - Second-year colloquium in anthropological method
    Permission required. This is a year-long review of the methods of field research and data analysis in anthropology, with special reference to educational systems and processes. During the spring semester, students report on their completed summer fieldwork before the members of both programs. Required of, and open only to, second-year doctoral students. Meets concurrently with ITSF 5610 during the spring semester.
  • ITSF 6510 - Education and cultural production
    Education intersects cultural production in myriad ways involving large scale planning, environmental interventions, institutions like museums and parks, heritage initiatives, media old and new, and individual and local projects. This course investigates these and other modes of cultural production through the lenses of semiotic theories, anthropology, and related fields.
  • ITSF 6900 - Research independent study anthropology and education
    Advanced students may register for intensive individual study of some aspect of their concentration. Registration is only by permission of the instructor under whose guidance the work will be undertaken. Times for individual conferences will be arranged. Enrollment may be for 1 or more points each term, and registration is not limited to one or two terms.
  • ITSF 6911 - Workgroup in psychological anthropology
    This workgroup meets every other week to discuss current issues in psychological anthropology. It also discusses and reviews current research and proposals for research of workgroup members, including faculty, alumni, and doctoral students concentrating in psychological anthropology.
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