By the end of this term project you will:
Understand why anthropological field techniques are useful for gaining critical information about social problems.
Have experience designing a ethnographic (ie hands-on, in the field) research project, taking both methodological and practical considerations into account.
Know the basics of compiling relevant information to create an effective grant proposal (Links to an external site.) in the social sciences.
Anthropologists rely on field data for building theories about humanity, but there are also many practical applications of culturally-sensitive research data. Most anthropologists work in applied fields; that is, instead of teaching in universities and the like, they work for organizations or companies to solve real human problems. Any situation where cultural factors may be impacting the outcome is one where ethnographic research can help. The more a policymaker knows about the culture that is undergoing the problem, the more effectively they can design solutions.
Of course, we can’t send you off on a many month long research project as a requirement for an 7 week online intro class! But, you will get some experience in thinking about what such a project would require, and how to go about trying to get a project like this one funded.
Your first task will be to identify a real world problem that ethnographic research might help us to solve. Then, you will take on the role of the anthropologist and design a long-term ethnographic project, that would help you find discover cultural information relevant to the issue. Finally, we will create a fictitious* grant proposal to fund this research project that you have proposed. We will assemble this project and grant proposal piece by piece throughout the term, and refine it through discussion and peer review. The final draft will be due at the end of Week 6, Aug 2.
This kind of proposal is the first step of beginning a research project in graduate education, or for beginning a project in a professional setting. Writing them well is key to applying for grants and funding, passing ethical reviews, and getting new projects approved by your employers. A good proposal demonstrates familiarity with the topic, a solid plan for achieving your goals, and a careful consideration of the practical and ethical implications of your research.
Your completed grant proposal will be due on Aug 2, and will be worth 100 points in total. It should be 5-7 pages in length, and include the following sections:
I. Introduction and Research Question
This section should clearly introduce the topic you plan to study, situating the community geographically and briefly explaining the situation they face. It should not be long, but it should clearly state what you plan to research and why your grantor should believe your project to be important (tied to Assignment 1 : Propose a Topic and Discussion: Making Ethnography Useful)
II. Cultural and Historical Context
This section should provide a quick introduction to the cultural life of the community your are studying. Who lives in it, and what are their lives like? You will also want to discuss the history of research on the community, and especially into the specific topic you wish to address. What is known about the situation already? What is less well known? How will your project contribute to our understanding? (Assignment 5: Cultural and Historical Context)
III. Methods of Research
In this section, you should clearly outline how you intend conduct your research, demonstrating that you have a sensible plan for doing participant observation in this community. What methods and techniques will you employ to get the information you need, and why are they the most appropriate strategies for gaining the target information? What practical challenges might you expect to encounter in the field, and how will you deal with them? (Assignment 3: Methods of Research)
IV. Informed Consent
The goal of this section is to show that you have carefully thought through the potential impact of your study on the community you are studying. What are the potential costs and benefits of this project for your informants? How will you ensure that your research and publication are handled in an ethical way with a good outcome for everyone involved? (tied to Assignment 7: Informed Consent)
When asking for funding, it is important to know exactly what you are asking for. What resources are you going to need to conduct your research as described above? The culmination of this section will be a reasonable itemized budget with a brief narrative explanation of why these particular resources are necessary to the success of the project. (tied to Assignment 9: Resources)
VI. Works Cited
You must include a full works cited page in MLA or APA format, including all external resources you used in creating this paper.
*You will not need to conduct any field research for this project. The assignment is to design an ethnographic research project and propose it to a fictitious granting agency. Because of this, you can design a project anywhere in the world, with no constraints on time or money.