Ira Bashkow / Anthropology

My Dream Idea will encourage students at the end of my course to work together in teams on a meaningful, culminating research project in which they synthesize what they have learned in the course and apply it creatively to a real world situation. All too often final projects are rushed affairs that students pull together strategically at the last minute to meet stated requirements. But support from the Mead Endowment will enable me to be create a special environment that motivates the students to work together on their projects, sociably and in good time, under my guidance, in preparation for presenting the results to others at a student symposium.

The course in which this will happen is a new course (enrollment 60) intended primarily for first and second year students. The course introduces practical methods of ethnographic field research, or “fieldwork,” which is valued in diverse fields including public health, development, architecture, design, planning, management, marketing, and education. If you want to make meaningful change in the world, whether to solve a pressing social problem, improve people's health, or invent and market a new product, you need an understanding of the people your change will affect. But how do you study people outside researcher-created contexts like labs and surveys, in the regular activities and settings of their own lives? The new course takes up this question through study of the theory, practice, applications and ethics of field ethnography. It will include a series of exercises in specific research techniques that students try for themselves, culminating in a final research project that is meant to contribute to the design process for renovating Alderman Library.

In the final three weeks of the term, I plan to host three research studio sessions in an appropriate Alderman Library space. These will be intensive, charrette-like "working sessions," where students work together with their teammates on their final field research projects about aspects of Alderman Library. I will participate by schmoozing with the students, encouraging and guiding them, answering questions, helping with technical problems, troubleshooting, and lending equipment. I will also help set a professional, working tone for the sessions and provide good food that will make the sessions a pleasure.

The students' work will culminate in a poster and short presentation at a class symposium, to which we will invite representatives from the University Library Committee (ULC) and Library staff involved in the renovations planning.

Proposed Budget:

Catering and refreshments:

     4 working sessions, each 15 students + professor at $15 per person: $960

     1 symposium for 60 students and 5 guests at $20 per person: $1,300

Loaner audio recording equipment for use by the students:

     5 Zoom H1 audio recorders: $100 each: $500

     Supplies (memory cards, wind shields, batteries): $100

Honoraria for 4-6 participating Library staff and ULC representatives: $150

TOTAL  $3,010