I was a student on a field school in Belgrade, Serbia 2015. The program and time I spent working with Dr. Feder was one of the most memorable and impactful study abroad programs of my undergraduate degree. One area of particular importance to me was Dr. Feder’s introduction of meditation/reflection into a daily routine as part of ethnographic fieldwork. So much of research and classroom studies are focused on production, and there can be an enormous amount of stress that grows from this. By leading us through such reflective exercises Dr. Feder demonstrated that it was ok to take time for yourself; in fact, this could be the most beneficial part of one’s day. Another aspect to Dr. Feder’s approach to teaching was in her encouragement for us as students to take risk. This is something that I find to be lacking in the formalized setting of a typical university classroom. Dr. Feder’s unwavering support meant that this controlled freedom not only helped in building the confidence I had in my own abilities to perform fieldwork in the future, but also gave me the courage to take risks in my writing and research. I am convinced that Dr. Feder’s encouragement has helped me transition from being a good student to one capable of performing serious academic research. Read more...
-Craig in Alberta
Learning anthropology for me, is like the process of reshaping values. Because of my culture, being conservative and restrained has shaped me in the past. Like most people, I was also afraid of unknown cultures, and my subconscious thought anything I don’t know was strange or savage. When I saw something different, I used to criticize them naturally. Culture is nothing about right or wrong, Anthropology has taught me to think about the reasons behind each culture, and has made me a more objective person. This is what anthropology has brought to me.
I have said to my friends more than once that our society would be a better place if everyone could learn some knowledge of anthropology. When cisgender treats transgender people naturally, when society treats men and woman equally, when people treats different skin tones equally, when people of different religions respect each other instead of waging war, this is the world we want to pursue. Anthropology has led me to think deeply about many things that I don’t normally care, and understand the reasons behind many phenomena. The best thing about being an anthropologist is seeing the world from another perspective. I really enjoy learning anthropology, which brings me unique thinking. It is not only learning a course, but also teaching us how to be a better human.
-Tongyu from Yunnan City, China
This class has been one of my favorite classes from AAU. Mainly I loved and truly appreciate the craftsmanship in anthropology and how we can apply it to anything that relates to humans, more specifically in the industry I belong which is game development. My design mind is more open and inclusive to multiple perspectives, even from ones that I barely experience. With the tools provided by this class and by our exceptional instructor Lisa I can do a better job at immersing myself in different cultures, each with their own perspective, behaviours, beliefs, etc and how that might influence my decisions while designing a game.
-Eddie in Mexico
Observing Lisa interact with the locals throughout the field school and learning how to navigate in the new culture was inspiring. She
approaches the field with enthusiasm, kindness, and a mixture of knowledge and innocence that both guides her and keeps her open to new experiences. She is respectful and manages to gain the trust of those she speaks almost without effort, allowing her to uncover nuggets of information about their lives that may not otherwise surface. In the field, Lisa is truly in her element.
-Jill in Alberta and London
One of my biggest takeaways is a more structured method to approaching other cultures and individuals through an emic perspective. We can ask questions that are qualitative and judgement-free (value free). For instance, if I don't understand why some people want to wear on certain types of clothing, I can begin by asking "What do the clothes symbolize?" "Does the ritual of buying the clothes symbolize something?" "Does the appearance of this style symbolize something to his/her?" "Is he/her embracing certain aspects of culture by dressing this way?"
-Kendall in Texas