Anthropology in Action
Want to know what you can do with an Anthropology Major? Learn more about the diverse and dynamic paths our majors take after their time at UNH.
Curt Grimm (Class of 1979)
While obtaining my BA in Anthropology and History at UNH, I was very intrigued with the international development work being done in Africa by Anthropology Professors Stephen Reyna and Richard Downs. After UNH I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta). My work involved working with women’s community garden groups; mainly constructing water wells, but also providing technical and market access assistance. The work was very rewarding and enjoyable and it set me on the particular community development path I followed ever since. Following the Peace Corps I earned my MA and PhD in Anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where there was a special emphasis on Development Anthropology.
In the early 1990s I started working in the Africa Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development. My duties including conducting research and providing technical assistance to promote community participation in project planning and implementation, and later, as the Senior Social Science Advisor in the Africa Bureau, I had additional responsibilities in areas such as strategic planning and performance monitoring and evaluation, donor coordination, and the mainstreaming of gender considerations into Africa Bureau programs. Rural community development, through sustainable economic growth and the provision of improved social services has remained the primary orientation of my work, however, and while working at USAID I had the good fortune to apply my skills and gain experiences by traveling and being involved with programs and projects all over sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2006 I have been the deputy director at the Carsey School of Public Policy (preciously the Carsey Institute) at UNH. Carsey conducts research, training and engagement in a wide range of domestic and, increasingly, international policy issues and topics. In 2011 we launched a new Masters in Community Development Policy and Practice degree program and we are currently working on plans for a new Masters of Public Policy degree.
Christopher R. DeCorse (Class of 1978)
I am currently a professor of anthropology in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. My time as an undergraduate anthropology major at UNH was both enjoyable and formative in terms of my career in anthropology. When I started at UNH, I was already fairly focused in wanting to study African archaeology. The anthropology faculty both nurtured this interest and provided a grounding for my graduate studies. The undergraduate curriculum, which included course work in physical anthropology, archaeology, and cultural anthropology, broadened my view of anthropology. This holistic view of the field remains part of my perspective. Two faculty members were particularly helpful. I worked closely with Dr. Charlie Bolian, who at the time was directing an archaeological Field School at Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesauke. Although I had previously volunteered on archaeological excavations, this was my first experience as a participant in a full scale excavation. The experience was fantastic: the Archaic site we excavated was interesting; the fieldwork, the people, and the bologna sandwiches that we ate for eight weeks were all great. I also volunteered in Charlie’s lab and helped with the analysis of the material excavated from the site. This provided me with my first substantive experience with archaeological analysis. The other UNH faculty member that had a big impact on my career was Steve Reyna. Steve’s research focus is on social and cultural theory, with an area focus on West Africa. Among other things, Steve told me that if I was serious about studying Africa I needed to spend time there. Heeding his advice, I subsequently accepted a Peace Corps placement in Sierra Leone and eventually completed my masters research on the archaeology of Sierra Leone. Later I also taught at the University of Ghana, Legon. Steve and I have remained in touch and he remains a mentor to this day. See my website at: http://syr.academia.edu/ChristopherDeCorse
Casey Thomas (Class of 2008)
After graduating from UNH in 2008 with a dual major in Anthropology and International Affairs I went on to study Sustainable International Development at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, where I focused on Youth Development and Coexistence and Conflict Management, with the intention of supporting youth programming in post-conflict zones around the world. I completed my field work for the MA degree in Colombia, where I led a sport for development and youth employability program for young men and women in a small city in central Colombia. After graduating from Heller I took a position with Baltimore City Public Schools, where I managed extended learning programs. After volunteering with Soccer Without Borders Baltimore for 2 years, I recently took over as the organization's Director. We provide year-round programming to newcomer youth (refugees, asyless & immigrants) in Baltimore. In all of my various roles since leaving UNH, my anthropology degree has provided me with a culturally sensitive lens through which I approach interactions and conversations with people from different backgrounds, which has been essential.
As an anthropology undergraduate I pursed coursework and fieldwork in biological anthropology, studies that evolved from interests in forensic anthropology, to bioarchaeology. to public health. Soon after obtaining my BA in anthropology I followed this fluid path toward becoming a registered nurse.
Anthropology, the study of humans as social and biological beings, is the study of the art and science of humanity, and as such an education in anthropology is translatable into innumerable careers. My experience with anthropology provided a strong, knowledgeable foundation for my studies and daily practice of the art and science of nursing.
I now work in a hospice house providing acute inpatient hospice care to patients with end-of-life diagnoses and complex comorbidities. Treatment in this realm of healthcare requires multifaceted and creative pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. Such interventions are directed at compassionate care of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms experienced by both patients and their loved ones, an approach strengthened by my education and experiences with anthropology.
After graduating from UNH in 2011 with a dual major in Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Italian and Asian Studies) I joined AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). I worked with a team of eight people over the course of ten months. Our projects took us to Michigan, where we worked as camp counselors and environmental stewards; to Iowa, were we did construction and lead paint abatement with Habitat for Humanity; to Indiana, where we directed volunteers helping the town of Henryville recover from an F4 tornado; and finally, to South Dakota, where we worked with adults with disabilities at the Black Hills Works center. While serving in AmeriCorps I put my writing skills to use as my team’s media representative, writing articles and managing social media. Following AmeriCorps and a brief stint as substitute teacher in my home state of Maine, I left home for Cambodia, where I am currently teaching English as a Second Language with the Peace Corps. I live and work in a rural community where, in addition to regular high school classes, I teach an adult English class and an art class, along with my site mate. I am also helping to organize a nation-wide creative writing competition, and am currently working on a grant to provide new books and shelves for my school’s library. During my classes, I try to incorporate elements of Khmer history and culture to better connect with and teach my students. It has been a learning process, and hopefully my students are learning as much from me as I am from them. My time at UNH prepared me academically for the work I am doing, and my anthropology studies have provided me the open-mindedness, and perspective needed to adapt to and better serve my community here in Cambodia.
Lauren Banker (class of 2013)
Upon graduation from the University of New Hampshire in May 2013 I've jumped right into social justice work. I have been devoted to the issue of reproductive justice since beginning my time at UNH and I find it very rewarding to find myself in a career path that puts the same emphasis on a topic that has such an influence on health and well-being of our society. Currently, in my role as NH Public Affairs Organizer for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, I am responsible for cultivating and managing activists and volunteers who are equally dedicated to this mission. In addition to this on a regular basis I get the chance to promote and protect access to reproductive health services at local public affairs events, legislative engagements, and within our local health centers. Just recently I have been given the opportunity to expand the work that I do to include advocacy on behalf of Planned Parenthood's Global Health initiatives. I am very excited for this chance to broaden my knowledge and understanding of the community health work we are doing abroad.
Grace Kirkpatrick (class of 2013)
In May of 2013, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. I was accepted into the Hands of Hope Internship at Casa de Esperanza de Los Niños, and set off to Houston, Texas a week after graduation. For the next year, I provided around-the-clock residential care to children in the foster care system, particularly those affected by abuse, neglect, and HIV/AIDS. I was a mother. At night, I stayed awake with babies who came straight from the hospital and read books to kids who were too scared to sleep. During the day, I participated in therapy sessions, made sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and rode bikes to the playground. It was the most frustrating, tiring, and thankless work I've ever done, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Now, I am on the long road to obtain my Masters in Social Work. Just like my time at Casa de Esperanza, my undergraduate work in anthropology exposed me to people, to cultures, to traditions that were wholly unlike my own. I truly believe that my major challenged me to see life through different eyes - dozens of different eyes, from all walks of life, past and present. Courses in religion, gender, and particularly many in African studies allowed me to learn how the traditions of the past help shape the people I work with today. I frequently encountered immigrant families in the foster care system. Instead of ignoring different cultural traditions and values surrounding children, my experience with anthropology helped me to successfully integrate those aspects into everyday life. Although the child was temporarily removed from her family, she did not have to be removed from all facets of her culture. I am proud of the work anthropology has helped me accomplish, and I hope to continue employing it in my future work in the foster care system.
I am currently working at the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success in Manchester, New Hampshire as the Market & Training Coordinator for the "New American Sustainable Agriculture Project" (NASAP). NASAP is a community-based agricultural initiative that helps refugees and immigrants in NH build sustainable farm enterprises that are consistent with their culture, lifestyle, and personal aspirations, while strengthening regional agriculture as a whole. My education in anthropology has benefited my work by providing me with the understanding that unique individuals-- with unique cultural backgrounds, life-histories, and personalities-- will have different self-defined needs, desires, and priorities. Through my coursework I have gained a strong theoretical framework that inspires the daily work I do and a deeper comprehension of the connections between complex issues related to global conflicts, agriculture and food access, social inequality, the economy, and the daily struggles diverse populations face. Most importantly, anthropology has strengthened my dedication to serving others and seeking justice, and I have learned the significance of approaching "helping-professions" with compassion and creativity.
|Elisabeth Farrell, second to left, with colleagues at the 4th annual New England Food Summit, which she helped to organize.|
Elisabeth Farrell (class of 2001)
After graduating from UNH in 2001, I found a 9-month hourly position working at the UNH Sustainability Institute. I was hired to help organize a conference on sustainable agriculture and to help with other food system related work. Fast-forward over a decade later, and I continue to work at the UNH Sustainability Institute, now as a Project Director, leading and managing many different projects to advance sustainability on campus and beyond. My undergraduate training in anthropology, with its holistic lens and multicultural perspective, provided the perfect foundation for work in sustainability. Unlike many academic disciplines, anthropology is all about how things are connected, as is sustainability. Throughout my career at the Sustainability Institute, I’ve been involved in many projects that bring together seemingly disparate people and ideas to create new collaborations, like the humanities and sustainability, eating and morality, and art and consumption. Helping to move these transdisciplinary conversations and projects forward keeps me excited—and ever-curious!—about human behavior and culture.