Community Outreach

Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.
Juliann Friel and Taylor Burch teaching the Anthropology of Madagascar at Arcadia Elementary.

The Department of Anthropology expanded its community outreach activities this past spring. The Department began participating in the Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary (TMSE)-UA Partnership in 2010 by offering a 12-week course in “Anthropology” in the fall. This past year, we offered “Anthropology of Costa Rica” in the fall and “Anthropology of Madagascar” in the spring. Anthropology of Costa Rica was led by doctoral student Greg Batchelder and capitalized on his research experience there and complemented the Magnet School’s ethos as an International Baccalaureate Program. Anthropology of Madagascar was led by doctoral candidate Lynn Funkhouser and was chosen because of the ¬†Evolutionary Studies program’s sister relationship with an EvoS program in Madagascar.

In addition to teaching Anthropology of Madagascar at TMSE, Arcadia Elementary started a similar partnership program, and we offered the course there as well. In all cases, courses are led by graduate students and taught by upper-level Anthropology undergraduates who have excelled in the program. Instructors draw from a workbook of lessons we have developed over the past several years but are also responsible for developing one lesson and activity from scratch. Thanks to Taylor Burbach, Meghan Steel, Andrea Roulaine, Erica Schumann, and Juliann Friel for teaching our elementary students this year. Imagine what our discipline will be like when undergraduates arrive who have been exposed to the anthropological perspective since 3rd grade!

LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)
LisaMarie Malischke leading a garbology activity with kids at Woodland Forrest Elementary School (Photo: Nirmala Erevelles)

For the fall 2015, we have established a formal service-learning course called “Anthropology is Elementary” that will be taught by Lynn Funkhouser and can be taken for 3 credits by undergraduates who have completed the introductory courses in all four subdisciplines. Students will be placed at TMSE, Arcadia, or—a new location—Tuscaloosa Magnet School Middle. Spots are still open, so contact Lynn for more information at jlfunkhouser@crimson.ua.edu.

But that’s not all! We have participated annually in Woodland Forrest Elementary School’s DiscoverFest as part of their Earth Day celebration. This year, several of our graduate students spent the day teaching elementary students about archaeology via “garbology,” or using simple household trash as a means of understanding the cultures of the people who left it behind. Thanks to Lynn Funkhouser, Sarah Morrow, and LisaMarie Malischke for their efforts on behalf of our community children!

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