YouTube videos, Instagram accounts, song playlists, websites, art work, and even an anthropology board game: all examples of submissions by students in Anthropology 1001 for their final summary of knowledge assignment.
Dr. Jocelyn Williams, the course instructor, gave students the capstone assignment at the start of the term. The project asked them to demonstrate the five subfields of anthropology taught in the course—archaeology, applied anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology—using any medium of their choice.
In mid-March, as the end of the term and assignment deadline drew closer, students had the added challenge of completing their course work from home due to physical distancing measures in response to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Although the summary of knowledge assignment wasn’t created for distance learning necessarily, its flexible format allowed students to produce high-quality work, even in the midst of a pandemic. In the final week of classes, Professor Williams began receiving assignment submissions from students, and noticed students stepped up to the challenge and got extra creative this year.
“It’s been really fun and uplifting to see their assignments roll in at a time when students and faculty were adapting to a unique and somewhat unfamiliar situation at the very end of a term,” says Prof. Williams. “I feel really grateful to see this side of my students and am amazed by their skills.”
Here’s a sampling of student projects:
Understanding how culture shaped modern Korea
Trent student Jieun Ha used each of the subfields of anthropology as a lens for understanding contemporary Korea in a 10-minute YouTube video, that highlights many aspects, from the archaeology of the ancient kingdoms that occupied the peninsula, to the ways that South Korea’s relationship with the U.S. has shaped its culture, music, and politics.
Anthropology through Monopoly
James Sedorko created—designed and hand-drew all himself—a game based on Monopoly, changing properties to different subfields of anthropology, chance cards to key terms, and railroad and utility cards to big ideas.
Relating lyrics to key concepts in anthropology
Megan Gendron explored key course concepts through an Apple Music playlist. She wrote descriptions of how each song’s lyrics related to the course’s learning goals, such as the Proclaimers’ iconic lyric “I would walk 500 hundred miles” to represent Homo erectus’ journey out of Africa 1.8 million years ago and David Bowie’s Changes for evolution and human adaptation.
“I wanted to choose a unique format, and I usually listen to music while I write assignments. Suddenly every song I heard had an anthropological context in my head,” says Ms. Gendron. “Dr. Williams was very accommodating and extended deadlines to ensure we had time to complete our project.”