About the Class


Course Description

This course serves as an introduction to the methods and theories of Cultural Anthropology by exploring themes that are of fundamental concern to the discipline today. We will read a variety of ethnographic texts that deal substantively with these themes while introducing us to a number of communities both within the United States and around the world. Central to the course are questions such as: How do we come to understand communities and cultures that are not our own? What is cultural description and how does someone go about producing respectful and sensitive portrayals of other people’s lives? How do we understand and write about cultural interactions and the impacts of globalization on both people and the environment?

Course Requirements

Over the course of the semester, you will watch video lectures, read academic articles, and watch a selection of ethnographic films related to the weekly themes. Some weeks there may be additional activities that augment learning. All of these materials and activities are required. Each week, you will have a required blog post that will allow you the opportunity to reflect on and demonstrate your mastery of the material. Some of these blog posts ask you to apply the information or method creatively (weeks 1, 3, and 4). Others will be opportunities to reflect critically on the required readings and films and to comment on the reflections of your classmates (weeks 2, 5, 6 and 7). During the final week, there will also be a short exam to test key definitions and concepts that are necessary for you to move on to higher level anthropology courses.


This class in based in WordPress (where you are now) – this is where all of the course materials (videos, readings, links, etc.) are posted. This is also where you will be posting to the course blog and leaving comments. Most importantly, all course announcements are posted on this site which means you need to log into this site at least once a day. Set it as your homepage, check it in the morning, or before you go to bed. This is an interactive course, so make sure you are interacting!

Desire 2 Learn

We will be using D2L for the grade book which we will update periodically through the semester. Other than that, you do not need to check D2L for any course materials or announcements. The D2L Announcements will be used to give you the username/password for the video lectures at the beginning of the course.

Weekly Schedule

You will follow a pretty standard format for the week to help you remember to turn things in on time.

  • Everyday: Log on to WordPress (WP), check for announcements, work through materials, read other’s blog posts, etc.
  • Monday: New schedules for the week are released under the “schedule” tab on WP
  • Friday: All blog post assignments are due by 11:59pm EST on WP
  • Sunday: All blog comment assignments are due by 11:59pm EST on WP

Class Technology

To take this class, all you need is a browser (Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome are preferred) and a high speed Internet connection. While you can connect to many of the course materials using a slower Internet connection, there are some things that you simply will not be able to access (such as the course videos or lecture videos). We understand that computers are not infallible. However, it is your responsibility to resolve any technical issues that originate on your end.

Open Access & Licensing

This class adheres to the philosophy of open courseware and open access. As such, course materials are open and accessible to the public. This includes some of the assignments – specifically the blog posts. As such, students should think of themselves as not just taking a class, but as contributing to the pool of scholarship on anthropology. This also means that students need to think about how they want to license your work (aka. how you would like other people to be able to use your work).

When students post to the course website, they will be able to choose a specific Creative Commons license. Each license (there are 6 to choose from) gives the author a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work.

When you post to the course blog, you will choose the Creative Commons license you want to assign to your post (pictured above)

Be sure to review the Creative Commons licenses – think about which one works best for you.

It is very important to note any student (at any time during or after the semester) can opt not to have their class materials be open access. Just talk to the course instructor, and they’ll make it happen immediately. Its equally important to note that any student who chooses to do this will not be penalized in any way at all. The content students produce for this class belongs to them, and they have total control over how it lives out in the wider world.

Video Lectures

A lot of the content of this class is delivered using video. Some of the videos are embedded into the schedule (most course lectures) while others are linked to outside websites (screencast, youtube, etc.)

In order to ensure that you have the best experience with this video material, make sure you are using an up to date version of a modern browser (such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome) and are accessing the course materials over a high speed Internet connection. While you can access much of the course content over a slower Internet connection, you need a high speed connection for the course video materials.

In order to access the video materials, you may need to login with a password – this is the same for everyone and should have been sent to you in an email.


This class doesn’t have a textbook (which is good because it means you don’t have to go out and buy anything). However, the class has a lot of assigned online readings (either in the form of online articles or downloadable PDFs). It is extremely important to remember that all readings are mandatory for the class, and must be completed. If you don’t keep up with your readings, you won’t do well on the assignments. PERIOD.

Academic Integrity

In accordance with Michigan State University’s policies on “Protection of Scholarship and Grades” and “Integrity of Scholarship and Grades,” students are expected to honor principles of truth and honesty in their academic work. Academic integrity means, amongst other things, not plagiarizing. Plagiarism includes submitting anothers work (words, ideas, etc.) as their own now will the knowingly permit another student to copy and submit their work. Additional discussion of academic integrity is available on the Ombudsperson’s website.

Students with Disabilities

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Limits to Course Confidentiality

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.

Image Attribution

Photo “_MG_5476” by Flickr user Kevin/ Creative Commons licensed BY-ND-2.0