Many students approach introductory-level courses with a certain hesitancy.  You are paying a considerable amount of tuition money and, not unreasonably, you may wonder what the educational benefits of these introductory courses are. With the Community Action Project you will gain significant knowledge and important skills – making it, in the view of most students who have participated in the Project, well worth the effort you put into it.  Let me explain.


Anthropology, at its best, helps you understand how life is lived around the world.  People diverge in all sorts of ways – in their beliefs and behaviors.  Anthropology helps you better understand what forms these differences take and the various contexts that shape them. The Community Action Project teaches you skills that are critical for a meaningful life and a successful career following graduation.  It has two main goals: (1). Helping students constructively engage with those who hold different views than themselves Many teachers talk in general terms about the value of engaging with people who hold different views than they do. The Community Action Project provides specific ways for doing this you so you can work with them on resolving common problems together.  (2). Helping students become more effective writers.  Despite the importance placed on effective writing in college, it is often open to question whether most college graduates have significantly improved their writing during their four years of college.  Instead of the usual approach – of different teacher suggesting different ways for writing well – the Community Action Project empowers students to develop their own internal standards for what constitutes good writing.


On the negative side, the project costs $15.  On the positive side, the project not only helps you develop the critical skills noted above, but you are also given two books free.  One, Why a Public Anthropology?, provides important insights on how to navigate college so, when you are graduated, you feel you have gained more than a certificate, more than the appearance of an education.  You will have gained important skills needed in life.  The other, the Intellectual Roots of Key Anthropologists, uses autobiographies by some of the field’s most prominent scholars to help students gain a personal sense of anthropology.


The project takes roughly three hours over a two-week period outside of class.  It is done online.  Each semester between 10 and 20 schools from across North America participate in the project.  During the first week, you will all write stories regarding how to find “common ground” with people who disagree with you on a particular issue. During the second week, you will evaluate the stories written by other students whose positions, may or may not, diverge from yours.  Reading what other students from across North America write, provides much food for thought.  Equally importantly, grading these stories for their clarity and effectiveness helps you consider how to write more effectively yourself.  You internalize what you feel are the components of good writing.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact: