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Liebow Signs Letter to Support Title VIII

AAA Executive Director, Dr. Ed Liebow, signs collaborative letter to U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, in support of restoring funding to the Title VIII program. Most research on Eastern Europe and Eurasia in the last 30 years was funded by Title VIII, which supported programs through SSRC, ACLS, IREX, Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, and some universities.

For the region of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, the Department of State has for thirty years trained future leaders and scholars through the Research and Training for Eastern Europe and the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union Act (PL 90-164, Title VIII). Title VIII has played a significant part in the education of many prominent American policymakers and specialists in the region, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, and US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. We are writing to you today to urge you to restore funding for the Title VIII program and to include funding for the Title VIII program as part of your fiscal year 2015 budget request.

The funding over the years supported many social scientists, historians and language programs.

At stake are programs that support policy-relevant research, advanced language training, and a specialized information clearing house and reference service related to countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia and Eastern Europe. A remarkably high percentage of US university faculty who teach about Eastern Europe and Eurasia, State Department specialists on the region, and think tank analysts who advice policymakers have conducted their field work and research obtained advanced language proficiency thanks to programs funded by Title VIII.

To read the entire letter, click here.

Save the Date – National Humanities Alliance Humanities Advocacy Day

NHA - Humanities Day - 2014The National Humanities Alliance will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day March 10-11 in Washington, D.C. 

 This unique event provides opportunities for participants to:

  • connect with a growing network of humanities leaders from around the country; 
  • communicate the value of humanities research, education, programming, and preservation to Members of Congress; 
  • explore national humanities policy; and 
  • become year-round advocates for the humanities. 

Sessions and events will be held at George Washington University and on Capitol Hill.

Registration

Registration and meeting information is available here.  

  • Early registration:           $75      Deadline: December 31
  • Advance registration:      $90      Deadline: January 31
  • Regular registration:       $100     Deadline: March 1

Hotel Accommodations

A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at the Capitol Hill Hotel at a discounted rate of $229/night for March 8-11.  To make a reservation, call 800-619-9468 or 202-543-2941 and ask for the National Humanities Alliance block rate, using the group code NHA0314.  Availability is limited and hotel reservations must be made no later than February 6, 2014.

AAA Encourages U.S. House Representative to Terminate Human Terrain System

In a letter, AAA’s new President, Dr. Monica Heller encourages and supports the efforts by U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter to terminate the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS). AAA has been a long-time opponent to HTS. The program embeds social scientists with combat units.

We are especially encouraged to see it more widely acknowledged by Members of Congress that the HTS Program’s shortcomings are not simply ones of poor execution, but of misguided mission, inappropriate staffing, and lack of recognized need. It is impossible to do high-quality, professionally responsible social science research at gunpoint, and reports submitted to the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) suggest that the program does not make a significant contribution to the counterinsurgency effort.

As the AAA has pointed out for several years, military leaders ought to have been the first to acknowledge that you cannot expect people to tell complete strangers anything resembling the “truth” in times of conflict. And social scientists have a professional responsibility to point this out. Social scientists also have the professional responsibility to do no harm to the persons and communities involved in their studies, and to give informed consent, without coercion, to those who participate in their studies. The circumstances under which the HTS Program operates compromise the quality and integrity of the research it purports to carry out, and work at cross-purposes with the overall mission to reduce armed conflict.

The AAA, with more than 12,000 members, is dedicated to advancing knowledge of the human condition, and to applying this knowledge to tackling the world’s most pressing problems. We feel a responsibility to help improve US government policies through fact-finding, dialogue, and deliberation. More important than the legion of problems HTS has encountered in its planning and execution, it is fundamentally flawed. It is well past time that the HTS program be de-authorized, and we applaud your efforts to end this unproductive, irresponsible activity.

Read the letter and learn more about AAA’s efforts opposing the program.

#AAA 2013 – Public Education Initiative on Migration and Displacement

The AAA’s new Public Education Initiative, focused on Migration and Displacement, seeks to bring an anthropological perspective to bear on important discussions occurring within and beyond the academy. As we begin to work on this national project, we are bringing together anthropologists to discuss key aspects of the theme. During this year’s annual conference, two roundtables will focus their attention on migration; those present will help to shed light on issues that merit serious attention. We ask you to participate in these roundtable events…help us as we begin to structure the content and general direction of what promises to be another important national project.
Friday Nov 22, 12:15-1:30pm (Chicago Hilton, Williford A): Society for Linguistic Anthropology Presidential Conversation on “Language and Mobility: Rethinking the Populations, Practices, and Places of ‘Migration.'”
panelists include Hilary Dick, Adrienne Shiu-Ming Lo, Jonathan Rosa, Alejandro Paz, Rosina Marquez Reiter, Monica Heller, Bonnie McElhinny, Shalini Shankar, Jan Blommaert, Susan Gal.
Saturday Nov.23, 12:15-1:30pm (Chicago Hilton, Astoria Room): PEI Special Events Panel on Anthropology and Migration
panelists include Leo Chavez, Anna Rios, Daina Sanchez, Pat Zavella, Lynn Stephen, Jonathan Xavier Inda.

Anthropology Added to Appendix of C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

C3 Framework for Social StudiesThe National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has released its C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards, which includes as appendices companion documents for anthropology, sociology, and psychology. The AAA Education Task Force and Ad Hoc Anthropology Companion Document Review Committee prepared the Anthropology Companion Document for the C3 Framework, Appendix D (page 77) in the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards (PDF).

This companion document provides an Introduction to the Disciplinary Concepts and Skills of Anthropology, four concepts of the discipline and provides connections to the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards.

According to NCSS:

The C3 Framework was purposefully designed to offer guidance for state social studies standards, not to outline specific content to be delivered. For states utilizing the C3 Framework, the ten themes of the 2010 NCSS National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies:
A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment will be useful for the process of identifying specific content to be delivered and concepts to be acquired. The four dimensions of the inquiry arc in the C3 Framework correspond well with four sets of learning expectations presented in the National Curriculum
Standards for Social Studies

  • Questions for Exploration
  • Knowledge: what learners need to understand
  • Processes: what learners will be capable of doing
  • Products: how learners demonstrate understanding

Three days, two rooms, one house

Today’s guest blog post is by Shirley J. Fiske (Chair of AAA Global Climate Change Task Force*).

Photograph by William Geogheghan. Front row from left: Lisa Lucero, Sarah Strauss, Heather Lazrus. Second row: Carole L. Crumley, Kathleen Galvin, Richard Wilk. Third row: Susan Crate. Fourth row: Shirley J. Fiske, Ben Orlove, Anthony Oliver-Smith. Photo by Bill Geoghegan. Photo courtesy School for Advanced Research GCCTF member, George Luber was not able to attend due to the government shutdown.

Front row from left: Lisa Lucero, Sarah Strauss, Heather Lazrus. Second row: Carole L. Crumley, Kathleen Galvin, Richard Wilk. Third row: Susan Crate. Fourth row: Shirley J. Fiske, Ben Orlove, Anthony Oliver-Smith.
Photo by Bill Geoghegan.
Photo courtesy School for Advanced Research.

Looking back at the end of the week, we want to capture the feeling and substance of the three-day short seminar of the AAA’s Global Climate Change Task Force (GCCTF) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A compressed time period with intense discussion, seamlessly flowing between the two main rooms in the School for Advanced Research (SAR) Douglas Schwartz Seminar House—the dining area and the adjacent seminar room. The GCCTF was hosted by the School for Advanced Research to work out the approaches, complexities and details for the task force report on anthropological perspectives on climate change to the AAA, due in 2014.

Over the past year, the task force prepared white papers on the issues where anthropology connects to climate change and climate change policy—e.g., adaptation, resilience, vulnerability, lessons from our collective ancestors, the drivers and impacts of climate change. Papers were presented, discussed and critiqued. Ideas challenged. Assumptions laid bare. Intensity exemplifies our interaction. These discussions feed into our review of climate change anthropology and provide guidance for the future report.

Concentration. Challenge in finding common ground. Across our different perspectives we debated the key messages and common themes to anthropological studies of climate change—the primacy of context, the value of diversity, the importance of scales—geospatial and temporal—community and holism. We looked for key messages, themes, foundations, and Eureka moments. Comparability. Iterative drafts. These are all phrases and thoughts that members expressed at the end of the final day.

Release. Thanks to the expertise of our members we had yoga, stretching, and self-reflection. We got rain (much needed in Santa Fe). We had humor, from folk rap to folk tales to punctuate our day. Totally spontaneous. We rotated the facilitators each day and provided opportunity for multiple leadership.

“Talk sleep eat—sleep—eat—talk—eat—sleep.” New Mexican red chili. The sun, and rain, in the interior courtyard of the adobe Seminar House. The setting in the Seminar House at SAR channels our predecessors – Margaret Mead, Lewis Binford, Richard Fox, and Gordon Wiley, among many others. The photographs in previous seminars at SAR line the hallways.

We came to a mutual agreement on next steps, massive revisions, key messages and themes. We will keep the momentum going, expand our outreach, and encourage our colleagues in anthropology and other disciplines to recognize that cultures are always changing and to focus on the environmental justice aspects of the phenomena of climate change. The SAR seminar allowed us to develop the guiding document that we are tasked with producing in a more robust and deliberative manner, reflecting perspectives drawn from across the discipline and profession of anthropology.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the School for Advanced Research, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the AAA, which made the seminar possible.

*The members of the AAA Global Climate Change Task Force are: Shirley J Fiske (Chair), Carole Crumley, Susan Crate, Kathleen Galvin, Heather Lazrus, George Luber (unable to participate at SAR due to the federal government shutdown), Lisa Lucero, Anthony Oliver-Smith, Ben Orlove, Sarah Strauss, and Richard Wilk.

Congress Targets National Science Foundation Grants

In a recent USA Today editorial/opinion column, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith target grants awarded by the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate of the the National Science Foundation as examples of government waste and a misuse of taxpayer resources.

This isn’t the first time that the NSF has been the target of increased Congressional scrutiny. Last year, the agency’s political science grants were targeted and AAA responded quickly. Earlier this year, in response to draft legislation (the so-called “High Quality Research Act”) that would have required the Director of the NSF to certify that prior to making any grant award the research project be “in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity of welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science,” the AAA wrote a letter stating our objection to the proposal.

Certain Members of Congress have been asking the public to present ideas and identify areas where federal government waste and fraud are present. YouCut, launched by Majority Leader Cantor in May of 2010, is a website where visitors can submit their ideas for cost-cutting measures, and view videos of selected submissions being discussed while Congress is in session. Recently, the Majority Leader launched a new initiative designed to identify and target cuts to the NSF. Sadly, the new website asks citizens to search the NSF grants database to highlight grants to be questioned, and suggests keywords such as “success, culture, social norm, museum and stimulus” to identify them.

The AAA has been working with our partners in the humanities and social science communities, visiting Congressional legislators and their staff,  making the case that social science research is critical to not only American, but world scholarship. While it is important to give the American taxpayer value for their research investment, Congress should not hamper the ability or the autonomy of federal agencies to award grants to those researchers whose projects have been peer-reviewed and deemed worthy of further study. With legislation re-authorizing the NSF scheduled to be considered in the upcoming months, it is important to let Capitol Hill know the value of social science, behavioral and economic research.

Please contact your Member of Congress today and let them know that you support NSF and it’s peer review process. If you’d like more information about how to become involved, please send an email to ddozier@aaanet.org.

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