Brief History of Anthropology Student Research and Internships



First Edition: March 2007

This is an Executive Summary describing the kinds of field research and internships our students have conducted over the years. For the complete document, click here.


         When the Department of Anthropology was established at Ithaca College in the mid-1970s, it immediately began to involve students with majors and concentrations from this discipline in substantive, original fieldwork, research and internships. Over the years, their projects have been conducted on issues and topics from all of anthropology’s branches: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and applied anthropology. This Database surveys the results of this work for the period 1973-2006, and reports on the experiences of 346 students, who carried out 438 projects in 22 states and 54 foreign countries and territories.  

         The great geographic diversity of student endeavors at home and abroad has been matched by the variety of subjects, sponsors, and outcomes that characterize their work. The focus of their research, for example, has ranged from tourism in Mexico and the Caribbean, the archaeology of early Inca and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) communities, and ancient hominid fossil deposits in South Africa, to Native American cultural revitalization, gender roles in Kenya, Tibetan refugees in India, Burmese refugees in Ithaca, the aesthetics of flamenco in Spain, and child discipline in Samoa. Some students have held internships and applied positions at museums, historical societies, and community service, international, and health agencies, including the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Geographic Society. They have designed and organized exhibits on Native American history, evaluated the effectiveness of policies to alleviate deforestation in Africa, and surveyed attitudes towards land use patterns and conservation in the Finger Lakes.


       The outcomes of student fieldwork have taken many forms. Academically, 23 students have written Honors’ theses or won the Fitchen or C.P. Snow Prize at Ithaca College. Twenty-seven projects have led to presentations at the annual James J. Whalen Symposium, the Northeast Anthropological Association conference, or the Northeast Andean meetings; a number of these and other projects have led to 144 articles published in books, edited volumes, technical reports, online resources, and professional journals.

Post-Graduate Work

       The impact of these research and internship experiences has, understandably and gratifyingly, also shaped many students’ post-graduate career choices, educational paths, and patterns of civic engagement. Anthropology alumni have gone on to win five Fulbright and State Department Fellowships for work in Peru, Liberia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. They have earned 10 doctorates in anthropology, law, politics, and veterinary medicine; and over two dozen Master’s degrees in such diverse fields as social work, education, art therapy, medical anthropology, environmental science, archaeology, finance, public administration, American Sign Language, museum studies, international relations, fine arts, teaching English as a second language, and divinity.

         Our former students’ later involvement in voluntarism, community affairs, and public service, after leaving Ithaca College, is often directly connected to the formative role of their undergraduate projects in their lives. Their experiences have led them to positions with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica, Mali, Honduras, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania; AmeriCorps assignments in California, Maine, New Mexico, New York City, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and other states; military service in Japan and the Philippines; and fund-raising and volunteer efforts with Forgotten Child International in Mexico, the Kitumusote organization’s work on community and individual economic advancement in Tanzania, and non-profit groups addressing the needs of refugees in Chicago and AIDS orphans in Uganda. Inspired or influenced by their fieldwork, students’ employment histories also show considerable diversity: they have held positions as health administrators, a record producer, high school and college teachers, social workers, arts and museum educators, contract archaeologists, lawyers, a massage therapist, and businesspeople running a restaurant, an air conditioning and heating company, and an import-export firm.


         Finally, this Database and survey demonstrate the success of the Department of Anthropology in fulfilling its missions to teach students basic research, analytic, and communicative skills; to provide them with opportunities to do original scientific and applied work; and to prepare them to be engaged citizens of a global community. 




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