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from the May 2005 Anthropology News

AAA Working Group Addresses Practitioner Needs

AAA Practicing Advisory Working Group

Employment patterns of PhD and MA anthropologists have changed dramatically over the past three decades. Thousands of anthropologists have graduated with a master’s degree from programs that emphasize applied anthropology, and most of these alumni work in non-academic positions. Furthermore, a majority of PhD anthropologists have entered careers outside of academia during this time.

As a result, the AAA is attempting to address the specific needs and contributions of non-academic practitioner anthropologists. In the fall of 2004, President Brumfiel established the Practicing Advisory Working Group (PAWG) to conduct research and develop recommendations to enhance AAA services and programs for the diverse needs of non-academic practicing anthropologists. These efforts build upon the NAPA Practicing and Professional Initiatives passed by the AAA Executive Board in May of 2003 (see

To identify practitioner needs, interests and possible AAA services, Advisory Working Group members will conduct telephone interviews with practitioners selected from widely varying organizations. In 2005, the Advisory Working Group will focus its efforts on ways for the AAA to articulate with the organizations that employ anthropologists. The primary emphasis will be large corporations that hire anthropologists, one-person consulting firms, and a wide array of governmental and non-profit organizations. In turn, these employers of anthropologists would better recognize and support their anthropologist employees.

The Practicing Advisory Working Group will address the possible expansion of membership categories to encompass organizations that employ practitioner anthropologists; expanding services and benefits for members that better address the interests and needs of practitioner anthropologists; broadening web-based resources that allow for rapid communication about new jobs; focusing the annual meeting in ways that are more relevant to practitioner anthropologists; enhancing AAA publications to serve the needs of practitioner anthropologists; and creatively drawing in a broader array of anthropologists who are in practitioner careers to continuing and new activities of the organization.

Another major aspect under consideration is whether these organizations would affiliate with a AAA section with similar interests. For example, museums with the Council for Museum Anthropology, contract archaeology companies with the Archeology Division and program evaluation companies with the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA). The AAA can offer organizations membership, entitling them to receive services such as job placement, annual meeting tables and group insurances; however, only the sections have the expertise to provide programs that are specific to the employment sector. Several sections may consider building model programs and services for organizations.

This Advisory Working Group is chaired by Linda Bennett, AAA board member and past NAPA president. Members include Tony Paredes, AAA board member holding the practitioner/professional seat; Judy Tso, new AAA board member; Susan Squires, past NAPA president; Mari Lyn Salvador, president of the AAA Council for Museum Anthropology; and Dennis Wiedman, past-AAA board member and NAPA president-elect.

At our phone meetings we are joined by key AAA staff members Sandy Berlin, deputy executive director/CFO; Richard Thomas, manager of member services; Kathleen Terry-Sharp, director of academic relations; and Paul Nuti, director of external, international and government relations. Working Group members were selected to include major employment sectors: Judy Tso, small companies (Aha Solutions Unlimited); Susan Squires, large corporations (Sun Microsystems); Tony Paredes, federal agencies (National Park Service); and Mari Lyn Salvador, museums (San Diego Museum of Man).

The Working Group is interested in soliciting a wide variety of perspectives on this topic. Please relay any contact and information to Linda Bennett, with a cc: to Richard Thomas,

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