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Strategic Plan for Anthropology

Context For Planning

The Anthropology Department became an autonomous unit in the 2000-2001 academic year after separating from the Sociology Department in the summer of 2000. At that time, the unit had four tenure track faculty members and 48 majors. As of April 2016, we have 120 majors and 61 minors, 9 tenure-track or tenured faculty members, one affiliate faculty member, two visiting positions and part-time faculty as needed. We have a part-time supervisor for the Anthropology Lab. We offer labs dedicated to archaeological, biological and ethnographic research. A four-field anthropology department emphasizing work across a range of subdisciplines (archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, medical anthropology), we train our students in both theoretical and applied approaches, preparing them to understand humankind holistically, within a historical context, and with cultural relativism. Our strategic plan for 2016-21 is focused on explaining what we prioritize for our faculty, students and program and on developing the benefits our department holds for all involved.

Mission

Anthropology is at the core of liberal education, bridging several disciplines across the humanities, natural and social sciences, emphasizing critical thinking and an appreciation for the value of inclusivity. Our approach, which integrates bio-cultural, evolutionary, applied and comparative perspectives, allows us to train our students to examine humanity holistically, and provides them with the skills needed to become active participants in diverse communities.

Vision

The Anthropology department will set a standard of excellence in liberal education that incorporates a strong theoretical foundation (including biological, cultural, medical, comparative and material studies), an applied specialty that emphasizes the practical and problem-solving aspects of anthropology, and a strong commitment to community engagement throughout our scholarship, teaching and service. This approach, emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusivity, strives to broaden our students experiences, expand their knowledge base and prepare them for meaningful careers in a dynamic society.

Value Statement

Anthropology values: 1. Excellent teaching of students through appropriate sized classes, field studies, and community engaged learning opportunities. 2. Inclusivity, an appreciation of human diversity, and respect for all cultures. ( 3. Interdisciplinary initiatives with other departments, colleges, learning institutions, and organizations 4. Faculty scholarship that enhances our teaching. ( 5. Student engagement in scholarship, anthropological practice, skill development, and academic/community life. 6. The innovative application of anthropological knowledge to our surrounding communities- the university, the region, our professions, and the global community at large.

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

Anthropology majors will demonstrate understanding of the major issues and concepts of the sub-disciplines in anthropology* as well as holism, diversity, and the complexity of the human experience **Objectives (adapted from http://www.livinganthropologically.com/2012/05/28/anthropology-student-learning-outcomes-assessment/) defined as: 1 Human origins and evolution. Ability to explain how evolution works and genetic processes. Familiarity with the broad outlines of human evolution, including comparison with other primates and reconstructing behavior of extinct species, especially australopiths. Hallmarks of human evolution such as bipedalism, tool co-evolution, sexuality; and major debates about anatomically modern humans. 2 Human biological variation. How biological anthropologists measure and explain human variation. Includes biocultural approaches and the inextricable influence of culture and biology; appreciation of human biological plasticity, and the variability but constraint in response to selection pressures. Knowledge of why biological anthropologists have argued against traditional race categorizations. 3 Civilizations. Understanding processes and debates about what has been called civilization, including domestication of plants and animals; agricultural origins and possible consequences; settled village and urban life; and state formation. 4 Human materiality. How archaeologists analyze and interpret artifacts; how material culture interacts with attitudes and beliefs. 5 Culture. Appreciation for why and how anthropologists emphasized cultural explanations to explain human difference, exploring the idea of cultural relativism. Why some anthropologists see problems in current popularizations of culture. 6 Design a research project that matches appropriate analytic methods (field or laboratory) to relevant research questions, and articulates the larger theoretical significance of those questions. Develop critical reading, writing, and analytical skills and understand how anthropologists conduct fieldwork, including ethnographic techniques, analysis, and writing. 7 Anthropological approaches. Familiarity with common anthropological approaches, such as the idea of cultural construction, understanding political economy and history, and realizing how difference is often linked to power and inequality. 8 Anthropological ethics and perspective. Exploring the dimension of ethical inquiry and the uses of anthropology, including anthropological interventions on contemporary issues like immigration. Ability to analyze and adapt in unfamiliar situations. Why and how the documentation of human creativity can inform intervention in contemporary political and economic issues.

Baseline

Will be established by first results of the capstone, exam, capstone project, and exit survey, collected at the end of Fall 2016. The number of students successfully demonstrating understanding of these issues and concepts will be collected and compared during the time under review.

Progress

2016 Status
Minimal Progress
A comprehensive exam was given to graduating seniors.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

Anthropology majors will demonstrate an understanding of anthropological values that contribute to an appreciation of inclusiveness and diversity, such as cultural relativism.

Baseline

Will be established by the results of comprehensive exam in capstone and exit survey, starting at the end of Fall 2016.

Progress

2016 Status
Minimal Progress
A comprehensive exam was given to graduating seniors.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 1.C.1

We will more fully integrate our community partnerships into our curriculum, increasing student awareness of the relationships linking anthropology, our department, and the greater community.

Baseline

Baseline will be established during fall semester 2017.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.1

Increase the use of teaching innovations and appropriate technologies throughout our curriculum and throughout student research opportunities.

Baseline

To be determined during fall semester 2019.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 2.D.1

Increase faculty training in new pedagogies and new technologies in ways that will enhance their scholarship, teaching and service activities, by discussing training at faculty meetings.

Baseline

To be determined in fall semester 2019

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 3.C.1

Increase interdisciplinary research and projects (at local, national, and international levels) that reflect and facilitate GVSU's focus on community engagement.

Baseline

To be determined by survey in fall semester 2017.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 4.A.1

Provide increased opportunities for students to present and disseminate anthropological work at SSD, regional, national, and international conferences and in print, highlighting the value of a GVSU education.

Baseline

To be determined by survey metric in 2018-2019

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

Increase faculty and student dissemination of findings and information about their work with community partners at local, national and international levels, highlighting the value of an education at GVSU.

Baseline

We will establish a baseline in fall 2017 by using a faculty survey and looking through faculty CVs to determine the avenues for dissemination that faculty have employed over the past calendar year. Critical to establishing the baseline will be assessing what faculty mean by “dissemination”. What dissemination products (publications, policy briefs, SSD presentations, class presentations, etc.) do faculty employ?

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