Why Study Anthropology at the U of M?

A History of Commitment to Engaged Scholarship.

Since establishing a Master's in Applied Anthropology in 1977, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Memphis has been committed to the meaningful practice of applying anthropological insight to solving real-world problems. The visions of early applied anthropologists in Memphis such as Dmitri Shimkin and Thomas W. Collins of building a cultural knowledge base in order to identify and solve real-world problems in collaboration with community members and other stakeholders through grass-roots, bottom-up initiatives set the standard that we continue today. This engaged scholarship approach connects applied anthropologists in training with their immediate community, benefiting students and community members as a result.

Commitment to Understanding the Diversity of Human Experience Locally and Globally.

Whether here in Memphis or in a remote village far away, our department is committed to applying anthropological research and practice in a number of ways. Faculty have regional expertise in the US, West Africa, Australia, and particular strengths in Central and South America. While many students elect to conduct their practica in Memphis, several successful projects have been completed throughout the US and abroad. Furthermore, many courses that we offer incorporate community-based research, engaged scholarship, and enriched service learning opportunities into thorough conceptual training as well.

Commitment to Excellence in Contributions to the Study and Practice of Anthropology

Students and faculty from the department of anthropology regularly contribute scholarship nationally through presenting posters and papers at national conferences such as the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), by publishing articles in various academic journals, and by contributing to valuable local events like the annual Environmental Justice Conference co-sponsored by the Sierra Club. Much of this work resists the misconceptions that applied anthropology is 'atheoretical' or 'non-academic', or that traditional anthropology is of little use in the 'real world'.

Commitment to Graduate Support, Professional Development, and Employability.

Graduates of our program are highly employable. Our 2014 Recent MA Alumni survey shows that 96% found employment in related fields and/or were admitted to post-MA studies.By receiving training in theory, methods, and data analysis combined with hands-on practicum experience, anthropology graduates from the U of M apply their skills and insights in the public, non-profit, and governmental sectors.

While in school, many students receive partial and full funding through graduate assistantships and other fellowship programs. For example, the Housing and Community Development Fellowship, housed in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, has allowed many students to gain interdisciplinary experience in community development while also providing a tuition waiver and a small stipend.

This type of collaboration is possible because our department also recognizes that anthropology does not have a monopoly on understanding human life. Many faculty work hand-in-hand with diverse teams from other disciplines and organizations throughout the city of Memphis. These connections provide opportunities for students to gain interdisciplinary experience as well particularly through our graduate certificate programs in fields such as museum studies, non-profit administration, women's studies, geographic information systems (GIS), and potential collaboration with the school of public health.