Ethical Guidelines in the Training of Practicing Anthropologists

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Introduction (1995)

This document provides guidelines for the design and administration of degree-granting graduate training programs for practicing anthropologists of various specializations. These guidelines refer to postgraduate education in an institution of higher education accredited by a body recognized by the Council On Post-secondary Accreditation (COPA). While we recognize that there are various and effective ways to prepare practicing anthropologists, these guidelines that can provide appropriate guidance in program design, administration, and evaluation.

This statement includes three sections: guidelines, use of guidelines, and selected bibliography. The guidelines section is divided into seven subsections: 1) institutional guidelines, 2) curriculum and instruction guidelines, 3) internship and practicum guidelines, 4) student evaluation guidelines, 5) faculty guidelines, 6) facility guidelines, and 7) program description guidelines.

Institutional Guidelines

These guidelines refer to how the program is organized and structured within its institutional setting.

A. The program should be named and identified as a professional anthropology program. Examples of designations include applied anthropology and practicing anthropology, among others.

B. From the array of possible roles and domains of applications within which practicing anthropologists work, programs will often select areas of specialization. For example, a program may choose to prepare students to work as applied or policy researchers in international agriculture. The areas of specialization will relate to faculty interests and extra-departmental resources.

C. A recognized, coherent organizational entity should be responsible for the program. Typically, this entity would be an academic department, consortium of departments, or other academic division. The program should be recognized officially by the larger institution and confer a recognized degree or certificate.

D. The primary program administrator should have a Ph.D. in anthropology. The program should be staffed primarily by those holding graduate degrees in anthropology. These individuals should have clear authority for all instructional, training, and research aspects of the program.

E. The program should include an integrated, organized plan of study that is consistent with the curriculum guidelines described in this document. This plan of study should ensure sufficient exposure to the field of anthropology and a clear indication of the areas of substantive specialization that can be addressed through the program and the wider institution's resources.

F. The program should have an identifiable body of students who are matriculated in that program for a degree.

G. The program should be adequately funded.

Curriculum and Instruction Guidelines

Curricular diversity from program to program and student to student is expected and encouraged. Currently operating programs show that a number of effective training models exist. A. Training is accomplished through course work, mentoring, practical experience such as an internship, and thesis. Practice needs to be integrated into the educational experience from the beginning. Student identification with the discipline needs to be fostered through graduate program activities that encourage participation in discipline-based organization, programs and events.

B. Instructional work content. Programs should incorporate instruction in the five areas that follow. Instruction can take various forms, including course work, guided independent study, internships, and apprenticeships.

1. Research Methods. The instruction should cover research design, data collection, and data analysis dealing with both qualitative and quantitative data. The content should include descriptive statistics, sampling, probabilistic statistics, and multivariate analysis, as well as qualitative analysis. There should be hands-on experience with statistical and textual data analysis software.

2. Anthropological Theory. This may include the history of anthropological theory and various substantive areas such as cultural ecology, organizational behavior, economic anthropology, social organization, and gender studies.

3. Cognate Area. Cognate courses are those offered outside the program and would be used to increase student understanding of the domain of application, such as education, business, organizations, medicine, environment, gerontology, or agriculture. Programs are encouraged to develop relationships with other departments that would allow feedback, faculty collaboration, and sharing of goals across unit boundaries. Programs may also permit student-defined cognate area study plans. Student-defined study plans need to be approved by the person or committee supervising the student's work. Actual course work in other departments is preferred in order to increase student experiences in working in multidisciplinary settings.

4. Professional Practices. While it is important that content related to program goals appear in most courses, it is also important to have instruction on professional issues in anthropological practice. This instruction should include: 1) guidelines of ethical practice, 2) the nature of the work setting of practicing anthropologists, 3) knowledge utilization theory, 4) communication to clients and sponsors, 5) alternate modes of research and action, 6) history of application and practices in anthropology, 7) practitioners as disciplinary participants and knowledge producers, and 8) the legal context of anthropological practice. It is preferred that this instruction appear early in the student's course of study.

5. Practicum, Internship and/or Thesis Project. Each student's program should include a substantial practical experience in which he/she puts to use the knowledge learned in other instructional activities. Guidelines relating to this experience are discussed below.

Internship and Practicum Guidelines

Opportunities for practical experience should pervade the students' program from beginning to end. All enrolled students should keep a log of practical activities that is monitored by their advisors.

All students should have substantial practical experience during the course of their training. Therefore, a formal internship or practicum is necessary to meet some of the range of problems the professional anthropologist may confront. The internship should provide the trainee with the opportunity to take substantial responsibility for carrying out major professional functions in the context of appropriate supervisory support, professional role modeling, and awareness of administrative structures.

The internship is undertaken after completion of some of the course work and precedes the granting of the degree. It should be an intensive and extensive experience relating to the program's training objectives and should further the development of the knowledge, skills, and sensitivities of professional anthropologists. It involves using anthropological knowledge and skills to help solve problems. Students should be given the opportunity of using prior work experience in lieu of the internship.

The nature of the internship, its locus, the populations served, the experiences provided, the qualifications and skills of the faculty and staff, cooperation members at the internship site, and other relevant considerations should be appropriate to the graduate program's goals. The internship placements should be fair in their use of intern labor.

Close liaison should be maintained between the graduate anthropology program and the internship organization or agency for evaluating the student's preparation for field experience, his/her progress in the field, practicum, or internship program, and his/her evaluation of the filed experience.

A. The duration of the required internship should be appropriate to its instructional role.

B. Administrative support for the internship program should be adequate and stable. There should be specific budgeting for training operations.

C. The program should work to secure funding for interns.

D. There should be communication with the intern and cooperating intern personnel before, during, and after the internship to plan, monitor, and evaluate the activity. Interns need to receive oral and written evaluations of their work during and following their internships.

E. The program should maintain a list of potential internship opportunities for students.

F. Placement of interns in situations in which they are ethically compromised should be avoided. Internship sites should be selected carefully.

G. Collaborative work with community members, organizational/agency personnel and persons from other disciplines should be part of the experience so that students have experiences with the kinds of people with whom they will ultimately work.

H. Students should submit a written document such as a thesis or practicum report. These reports can be archived in a suitable library. Students are also encouraged to make an oral presentation to their client organization.

I. Programs should provide a means for student evaluation of the internship experience referenced to the quality of both the placement and the supervision they receive. These evaluations would be used by the administration of the training program to assess program function.

J. Interns should be keep informed of their progress by means of clearly identified evaluative sessions, with timing and content designed to facilitate change and growth.

K. The program should maintain records of internships, including examples of student work, and evaluation data, such as evaluation forms submitted by students.

L. Linkages between internship content and career/job content should be facilitated and discussed.

Student Evaluation Guidelines

To assess a student's competence in practice, programs should develop an explicit, comprehensive system for evaluation. Competence may be demonstrated in a number of ways: by passing suitable comprehensive examinations, successful completion of graduate course work, evaluation of internship experiences, or oral presentation.

The evaluation of practice competence should be the responsibility of the faculty and the internship/practicum supervisor. Where possible, evaluation processes should be augmented by practitioners from the community. A practice-oriented student evaluation procedure should be included in the program statement. It is recommended that each student's committee have a minimum of one external (i.e., community) advisor.

Faculty Guidelines

An experienced and committed faculty is essential to the development and maintenance of a professional anthropology program.

In addition to having sound education in theory and in the methods and content of anthropology, professional anthropologists need exposure to the knowledge and skills appropriate to the settings in which they are employed and to the issues they face. Further, at least some faculty members should have acquired professional competencies and experiences that enable them to train students for practice in particular settings and problems. In their research, teaching, and practice, faculty members should give evidence of being committed to the application of anthropology. Professional experience beyond teaching, research, and student supervision should be demonstrated in those faculty by their continuing activities as practicing anthropologists. It is important for faculty to serve as effective role models for anthropological practice.

A. The faculty responsible for the general program and each area of specialization should be clearly identified and designated in the program statement. Faculty responsible for the general program and its specializations are to participate in decisions affecting the program, including the formulation of basic policies and goals, operational procedures, student supervision , program planning ,and evaluation. Since professional training programs often cut across departments and other administrative units, it is important that appropriate levels of administrative autonomy be granted.

B. Anthropologists administratively responsible for the program should be tenured.

C. Members of the faculty should have a sound background in training and experience, and should demonstrate evidence of staying abreast of new developments in the field through continued practice, research, and publication.

D. The anthropology faculty should be large enough to ensure availability to students for advising, and supervision of research and practice. It should also be sufficient to ensure the accomplishment of administrative duties, service on university and department committees, class offerings of appropriate size and diversity.

E. At least one faculty member should be designated as having primary responsibility for monitoring and evaluation of internship/practicum progress for students in the program.

F. To the extent possible, programs should incorporate practitioners as student mentors, guest speakers, and faculty, from areas from which they draw students.

Facility Guidelines

Training in professional anthropology requires adequate facilities. Specific facility needs vary depending upon the program's goals. Primary considerations include the following:

A. teaching facilities, including classrooms and seminar rooms;

B. library facilities, including books, journals, reprints, microforms;

C. office space, telephones, copiers, and fax machines;

D. adequate administrative support personnel for faculty;

E. work space, individual and shared, for students;

F. research space for faculty and students;

G. availability of relevant materials and supplies;

H. internship opportunities;

I. computer facilities and technical consultants;

J. field research equipment such as cameras, video equipment, and tape recorders; and

K. facilities for handicapped students.

Program Description Guidelines

Each program has the responsibility to inform both current and prospective students of its specific goals, resources, program requirements, and productivity. This responsibility forms the basis of the program statement. Program statements need to be current, accurate, and based on actualities rather than plans. It is appropriate that the program statement be reviewed on an annual basis.

Program statements should include the following information:

1) program name,

2) program goals [referenced to professional functions and areas of specialization],

3) program faculty [including designations as to training, specialization, and administrative responsibility, including persons within and outside the department and university and collaborating practitioners],

4) program curriculum and requirements,

5) student evaluation procedures,

6) usual size of the applicant pool, acceptance rate, time for degree completion, attrition rate, and size of graduate classes,

7) percentages of males/females, ethnic categories, opportunities for handicapped students,

8) availability of financial, academic, health care, counseling, and other support, and

9) information about local living conditions.

The Use of These Guidelines

Programs interested in using these guidelines for program development are encouraged to carry out a self-assessment process focused on the elements of the guidelines. This can be used to prepare a statement for internal use that describes the program in terms of these guidelines and identifies areas of adherence and limitation. This may be used to give direction to curriculum and faculty development and serve as the basis for program descriptions.

The above guidelines summarize thinking within the discipline regarding formal training and graduate education. Prominent scholars in the field, who are also active members of the Society for Applied Anthropology, have assumed an important leadership role in the analysis and articulation of this statement. However, the Society, its officers and its membership assume no responsibility for any future use of application of these statements for any purpose.

Selected Bibliography

  • Grey, Mark A., Robert A. Hackenberg, and Donald D. Stull. 1991. The Case Against Accreditation and Certification of Applied Anthropology. Practicing Anthropology 13(3):21-22.
  • Hill, Robert, Mary Granica, Lenora Bohren and Peter Van Arsdale. 1992. On Certification, Accreditation, Standards and the Academy. Practicing Anthropology 14(1):2,27-29.
  • Trotter, Robert T., II. 1988. Anthropology for Tomorrow: Creating Practitioner-Oriented Applied Anthropology Programs. *Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association.

________, Nathaniel Tashima, and Cathleen Crain. 1991. The Case for Accreditation of Training Programs. Practicing Anthropology 13(3):2, 20-21.

  • Van Willigen, John. 1979. Recommendations for Training and Education for Careers in Applied Anthropology: A Literature Review. Human Organization 38(4):411-416.
  • _________. 1982. The Great Transformation: Applied Training and Disciplinary Change. Practicing Anthropology 4(3-4).
  • _________. 1991. Development of Training Standards: The Necessary Step. Practicing Anthropology 13(3):23.


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