Connected Course in Cultural Anthropology

credit: Chad Raymond, amateur Orientalist

Check out, a free online course in cultural anthropology created/hosted by Michael Wensch of Kansas State University. This project is one of the best designed exercises in online learning I’ve ever seen. Michael and his collaborator, Ryan Klataske, discuss the deep pedagogical principles behind the project at the anthropology blog Savage Minds. As someone with a long history of being a pretend anthropologist — which began by sneaking into an American Anthropology Association meeting long before I started my doctoral studies — I’m very impressed with how the course abandons teaching about anthropology as an academic discipline in favor of presenting it as an understanding of one’s individual and collective existence in the world. I know that sounds like the lofty clap-trap one often hears from idealistic academics, but Wensch has built the course around a series of exercises that show people how to experience the concept in some very practical and relevant ways. And his textbook The Art of Being Human, which accompanies the course for free, is an excellent read.

2 Replies to “Connected Course in Cultural Anthropology”

  1. The course, and site, are impressive. I wonder how this might translate to political science, especially introductory courses. Any thoughts?

  2. Interesting question. Maybe I will try to answer it in a near-future post. I think political science as a discipline does not have a clear road map for what should be taught, when it should be taught, and how it should be taught at the undergraduate level. This could be an obstacle or an opportunity for the political science equivalent of an “introduction to cultural anthropology” course that is structured like the one above.

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