Winner of the AAA 2002
Integrating Anthropology
into Schools $2500 Seed Grant

Luke Eric Lassiter, PhD
Dept of Anthropology
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306-0435
765-285-7321
elassite@gw.bsu.edu

A Short History of PALS

A few years ago, Ball State University's anthropology department became concerned as the State of Indiana proposed a new teachers training program that omitted anthropology from its social studies requirements. As a result the department began discussing other ways that faculty and students might integrate anthropology into pre-collegiate education. Ball State associate professor Luke Eric Lassiter decided to merge this departmental effort with the current discussions about developing a more explicitly engaged and public anthropology.

In 2000 and 2002, seniors in Lassiter's Senior Seminar course developed presentations, workshops, and seminars for-and in collaboration with-local high school teachers. The entire course revolved around this project: students also evaluated and reflected on their work through surveys, ethnographically-based reports, web sites, (see http://www.bsu.edu/anthropology/lassiter/classes/anth_schools.htm) and the construction of exhibits (housed in the department's museum).

The students found that the teachers highly valued anthropology's broad-based perspective and critical approach. In the 2002 seminar, in particular, graduate student W. Dustin Cantrell initiated an ethnographic study to evaluate more deeply, first, which components of anthropology the teachers valued most, and second, how the implementation of anthropology into local schools could be sustained beyond the Senior Seminar-especially in Muncie, where the almost complete collapse of the city's industrial base in the last two decades has profoundly widened the gap between rich and poor, white and black, town and gown. With this ongoing research in mind, Cantrell and Lassiter proposed and received the AEC's Seed Grant for their pilot program, PALS (Placing Anthropology into Local Schools).

PALS will utilize Cantrell's more detailed findings to implement a training program for all anthropology students in Ball State's Department of Anthropology (not just seniors), develop a database of students and topic areas for use by local teachers when needed, create a brochure and web site that details services and contact information, and do a brief evaluative study to assess the program's effectiveness. Importantly, Cantrell and Lassiter hope to develop a broadly based model that can be implemented by other anthropology departments seeking to more systematically implement anthropology into local schools.


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