Public Outreach Project

The 2006 Public Outreach Ranking in Anthropology involved a survey of the degree to which various anthropology departments and their faculty addressed the concerns of the broader society.  The ranking of departments’ public outreach was assessed through a survey of full-time anthropology faculty in American anthropology programs as listed in the AAA guide (3551 faculty). 1428 respondents out of a potential pool of 3551 assessors responded to the questionnaire – a  participation rate among anthropology faculty of 40.21%, significantly higher than most participate rate of American Anthropological Association participation rates. The results are posted below.

  1. Michigan State University (3.137)
  2. University of South Florida (3.078)
  3. University of Pennsylvania (2.922)
  4. Arizona State University (2.863)
  5. University of California, Berkeley (2.843)
  6. Emory University (2.769)
  7. University of Arizona (2.731)
  8. University of California, Irvine (2.712)
  9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2.712)
  10. Boston University (2.686)
  11. Harvard University (2.686)
  12. University of Washington (2.686)
  13. Brown University (2.673)
  14. New York University (2.673)
  15. University of Florida (2.673)
  16. University of Hawaii at Manoa (2.673)
  17. University of New Mexico (2.660)
  18. Indiana University (2.660)
  19. University of Texas, Austin (2.660)
  20. University of Connecticut (2.647)
  21. University of Pittsburgh (2.627)
  22. Case Western Reserve (2.620)
  23. Univ. of California, Los Angeles (2.620)
  24. University of Chicago (2.620)
  25. Washington University (2.608)
  26. University of Wisconsin, Madison (2.592)
  27. Northwestern University (2.588)
  28. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana (2.580)
  29. University of Oregon (2.580)
  30. Duke University – Cultural (2.571)
  31. Pennsylvania State University (2.560)
  32. University of Georgia (2.560)
  33. Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst (2.560)
  34. University of Colorado, Boulder (2.540)
  35. University of Missouri, Columbia (2.540)
  36. City University of New York (2.538)
  37. Stanford University – Cultural (2.520)
  38. University of Southern California (2.520)
  39. Texas A&M University (2.500)
  40. University of California, Riverside (2.500)
  41. University of California, Davis (2.480)
  42. Cornell University (2.469)
  43. Syracuse University (2.469)
  44. Ohio State University (2.460)
  45. Stanford Univ. – Anthro. Sciences (2.460)
  46. State Univ. of N. Y. at Binghamton (2.460)
  47. University of Iowa (2.460)
  48. Duke University – Biological (2.449)
  49. State Univ. of N.Y. at Buffalo (2.449)
  50. University of Utah (2.449)
  1. Columbia University (2.440)
  2. Southern Methodist University (2.440)
  3. Southern Illinois Univ. Carbondale (2.429)
  4. Univ. of California, Santa Cruz (2.429)
  5. Univ. of N. C., Chapel Hill (2.429)
  6. Rutgers University, New Brunswick (2.420)
  7. State Univ. of N. Y. at Albany (2.420)
  8. Johns Hopkins University (2.408)
  9. State Univ. of N.Y. at Stony Brook (2.408)
  10. Wayne State University (2.408)
  11. Yale University (2.408)
  12. University of Kentucky (2.388)
  13. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (2.388)
  14. American University (2.367)
  15. Princeton University (2.367)
  16. University of Kansas (2.367)
  17. Catholic University of America (2.360)
  18. Univ. of California, San Diego (2.347)
  19. Tulane University (2.327)
  20. University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2.327)
  21. Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis (2.306)
  22. University of Oklahoma (2.306)
  23. Vanderbilt University (2.280)
  24. Rice University (2.265)
  25. University of Alaska Fairbanks (2.265)
  26. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (2.260)
  27. Temple University (2.245)
  28. Washington State University (2.245)
  29. University of Nevada, Reno (2.224)
  30. Brandeis University (2.204)
  31. University of Virginia (2.200)
  32. Purdue University (1.837)
  33. New School University (1.327)



Public outreach was defined in the Public Anthropology Assessment as addressing social concerns in the broader world beyond the university. Assessors were provided with three categories of information on each department assessed: (1) the number and types of programs associated with a particular department that focused on public issues and public outreach; (2) the number and types of public outreach activities—past and present—that individual faculty members within a department chose to describe; and (3) following the example of ISI’s Social Sciences Citation Index, the degree to which individual faculty members within a department were cited in prominent printed media.


Public Outreach Assessment: The pool of potential assessors (or sample) included all full-time faculty within American anthropology departments listed in the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Guide. Because the assessment took more than two years to prepare, both the 2005 and the 2006 AAA Guides were used. The assessment included 394 schools. The anthropology departments and programs at these schools collectively had 3613 full-time faculty members.

Despite repeated efforts to correct “bounced emails” – emails that were returned from the receiver’s server without passing through to the actual individual the email was sent to – “bounced emails” varied during the assessment from between 62 and 89. Taking a cautious approach, I used the lower “bounced” rate, 62, and subtracted it from 3613, leaving 3551. It made no sense to include in the sample people who never received the Assessment’s emails and, hence, could not participate.

Unsubscribes, individuals who were deleted from the email list, numbered 363. Of these, roughly ½ deleted themselves and ½ were deleted by me. I deleted individuals, for example, who indicated they were not anthropologists (though listed in the AAA Guide) as well as individuals who indicated (in an email) they were no longer full-time faculty and/or affiliated with the department they were listed under. I included all 363 unsubscribes as part of the 3551 sample. One might have made a case for deleting them. But I decided to take a cautious approach in this regard.

I also left in the sample all emails that were returned because the recipient was described as “out of the office” (or some similar such phrasing). A close look at those who participated in the assessment indicated that some of those listed in the out of office category were indeed participating.

In brief, then sample size (or pool of potential assessors) was 3551. 1428 faculty participated in the Public Outreach Assessment. The participate rate for the assessment was thus 1428/3551 or 40.21%.


Assessors examined the outreach programs associated with a particular department as well as the outreach activities of individual faculty within that department. Information on programs associated with a department was collected by the Center for a Public Anthropology and sent to each department chair for review. Information on individual faculty outreach activities was drawn from two sources. To have a quantitative measure across schools, the Center used the LexisNexis databases to assess to what degree individual faculty members within a department were cited in the public media. Data were gathered from both the General News/Newspapers and the General News/Magazines and Journals databases. In addition, in an effort to gather more qualititative data, faculty members within each department were offered space to record their present and past outreach activities.


In the Public Outreach Assessment, participants were presented with four randomly selected departments (excluding their own) that they then ranked by positioning a department (through a click and drag operation on a web page) into a hierarchy with the top ranking department in public outreach highest and the lowest ranked department at the bottom. Participants could not place two schools at the same hierarchical level. Given the breadth of data assessors had to examine on each school, it was thought best to present each assessor only four departments for evaluation. (In a trial run, increasing the departments an assessor had to evaluate to five or six seemed overly burdensome to several assessors.)


To be included in the 1993-95 NRC assessment of anthropology programs—the model for the Public Outreach Assessment—a department had to have granted at least five doctoral degrees within the past five years. In 1993, when the NRC assessment began, there were 69 anthropology departments that fit this qualification. For the Public Outreach Assessment, I took the NRC list and added schools I perceived as probably fulfilling this “five in five” requirement. The selection was not based on hard data. I wanted to insure that several departments which had developed strong doctoral programs since 1993 were included in the assessment. Only the University of Rochester, part of the NRC assessment, was dropped from the Public Outreach Assessment. It had terminated its doctoral program and, hence, no longer fit the NRC criteria.

Of the 394 schools from which potential assessors were drawn, 323 (or 82%) of the schools had faculty members participate in the Public Outreach Assessment.