Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs

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Resources for Programs: Session Summary

PhDs Study the World but MAs Run It: Masters-Only Training in Applied Anthropology

Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, 2010


Ruthbeth Finerman (University of Memphis) and Miriam S. Chaiken (New Mexico State University)


Ruthbeth Finerman (University of Memphis), Miriam S. Chaiken (New Mexico State University), Barbara LeMaster (Cal State University Long Beach), and Lisa Henry (University of North Texas)

Summary of Discussion

The session encapsulated the title from Robert Trotter’s insights into the role of MA trained anthropologists, as central to many positions in the public and private sector. It brought together representatives from departments with MA programs that emphasized applied training. Participants represented programs that focus on preparing graduates for careers as practitioners, and engaged in a vigorous discussion from the colleagues that attended the session. The session focused on the following topics and issues:

The session’s overarching goal was to discuss the strengths and challenges that face applied MA programs, to discuss the contributions our graduates make to their communities, and to find means to strengthen our programs’ positive impacts. The session had robust attendance and constructive discussion and sharing of insights, and the panelists felt that they learned as much as they conveyed to the session participants. The discussion highlighted a tremendous range of variation in program foci and degree requirements (e.g. thesis vs. practicum). Even so, the consensus was that there continues to be a large and growing demand for master’s-level training in applied anthropology, and that the MA provides a solid foundation for employment in public and private sector praxis.

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Lisa Henry
Co-Chair, COPAA
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of North Texas
1155 Union Circle #310409
Denton, TX 76203