Food and Culture
Food represents the most basic of human needs, and yet its very pervasiveness in our everyday lives often prevents us from seeing how much it defines us culturally. In this course, I take students on a "culinary tour," using food as a lens to explore the vast array of human cultural differences. I also use skills from anthropology and allied fields get students thinking systematically about the ways that our food choices and food systems affect other domains of the human experience, including our biology and health, the forms and stability of our social organization, as well as our global economic and political systems.
In this course, I embrace the notion of experiential learning as a means to integrate knowledge and develop practical skills. The course emphasizes the fundamentals of the research process, but also articulates the importance of disseminating the benefits of research back to the community. Each semester, I turn the classroom into a research laboratory, leading students through a real team-based research project designed by myself or my collaborators. Following an orientation and methods training, students collect and analyze real data. At the end of the course, students present findings to the class as well as to our community partners. In the past, our course findings have been showcased at the Arizona Science Fair and ASU's Night of the Open Door event.
Ethnographic Research Methods
In this upper level course, I walk students through the nitty, gritty details of how social science works and how social scientists go about developing and executing their research. While I focus on ethnographic anthropological research, I emphasize the applicability of these research skills across many social science disciplines. We start the course with a basic overview of the scientific method. We then proceed through the course in the order of designing a research project from the ground up: ethics of research, sampling strategies, methods of observation (participant and direct observation), interviewing, data analysis, and presenting and reporting results. The fundamental goal of this course is to facilitate students in thinking through all the elements of high-quality, valid and reliable social science research. Students thus learn to be better consumers of the scientific information they encounter in the news and media on a daily basis.