Digital Anthropology Featured Courses, Fall 2018

ANTH 058-401 Doing Research: Qualitative Methods and Research

Instructor: Lisa Mitchell

Tuesday/Thursday 10:30AM-12:00PM 

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to qualitative research methods and frameworks in the social sciences and humanities. The goals of the semester will be for each student to develop their own research proposal for a specific project that they could imagine pursuing over the summer or later in their undergraduate career,and to develop a web-based exhibit of one Penn-based research collection of interest. Students will be introduced to a range of textual, archival and media collections and databases available at Penn, with particular attention to South Asia and other specific regions of interest to course participants. The class will visit the Penn Musuem object collections and archives, the Art library, the Kislak Center for Rare Books and Manuscripts, Film Archives, and other special collections on campus, and meet with a representative from the Center for Undergraduate Research Funding (CURF). Students will learn how to frame an effective research question, situate it in relation to existing research, select the most appropriate methods for addressing the question, and develop an effective research plan. Each week students will be introduced to a new set of frameworks for analysis, see specific examples of their application drawn from anthropological, historical, and related scholarship and have opportunities to practice applying and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of specific methodological tools. Students will also have the opportunity to identify sources of funding for summer research projects and prepare applications for these opportunities as part of the course. The course is ideal as an introduction to both the excellent libraries and research collections housed at Penn, and to a wide range of intellectual frameworks for engaging with these collections - a great way to kick off your undergraduate experience at Penn! 


ANTH 110-401 Water in the Middle East Throughout History

Instructor: Emily Hammer

Tuesday/Thursday 10:30AM-12:00PM 

The role of water in the Middle East cannot be overstated. The Middle East is an arid region, but human and natural systems have interacted to determine relative water scarcity and abundance at different times and places. The location, accessibility, yield, and quality of natural and managed water resources significantly influenced the location and longevity of ancient and modern settlements. Control of water has always affected the economic, political, social life of the communities inhabiting these settlements. This course examines the distribution of water resources throughout the Middle East and the archaeology and anthropology of water exploitation and management over the last 9000 years. It will consider water in river valleys, deserts, highland zones, steppes, and coastal areas of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, and Arabia from environmental, political, social, cultural, and technical perspectives. We will engage with a variety of media, including academic readings, popular journalism, films, satellite imagery, and digital maps. We will examine irrigation, water supply, sanitation, and water-driven power systems known from ethnographic studies and archaeological excavations. These data will allow us to engage with debates in Middle Eastern anthropology, including those concerning the relationship between water and political power, the environment in which the earliest cities arose, and present and potential future water crises and "water wars." In our final weeks, we will discuss archaeology and historical anthropology's contribution to conceptions of water "sustainability" and examine attempts to revive traditional and ancient technologies in an effort to better manage modern water resources. 


ANTH 258-401 Visualizing the Past

(Cross-listed with Computer and Information Science)

Instructors: Clark Erickson and Norman Badler

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 11:00AM-12:00PM 

This highly interdisciplinary course approaches fundamental issues in Anthropology and Computer Science.Using an anthropological perspective, this course focuses on the history, theory, and methods of how archaeology and visualizations of the past are created, presented and used in scholarly media (e.g., traditional publications, conference papers, and project databases), and popular culture (e.g., artists reconstructions, movies, TV documentaries, museum exhibits, games, the internet, and art), and contemporary computer technology (e.g., 3D modeling, Animation, virtual reality, and simulation). From the computer science perspective, the challenge becomes how we can transform known and often incomplete information into engaging and plausible digital models of a past culture and its people. Students gain acquisition of fundamental computer programming, data analysis, and 3D modeling and animation tools. The course material is broad and requires conceptual integration by the student. The instructors use the SEAS Open Learning Classroom for programing and the Penn Museum to explore artifact collections through Object-Based Learning and evaluate public exhibits and complete an original Final Project to people and visualize the past. Benjamin Franklin Seminar. 


ANTH 337-301 Applying Anthropology Methods in Policy and Practice

Instructor: Puneet Sahota

Friday 2:00PM-5:00PM 

This course will introduce students to applied anthropology methods for doing research that can change policy and practices. Examples of policy and practice change include clinical practices in health care settings, social welfare policy, and legal advocacy. Students will be trained in multiple anthropology research methods, including brief participant-observation, presentation of self in the field, entering the field in diverse cultural environments, qualitative interviewing, life story interviewing, and ethnographic content analysis of textual material. Students will also learn how to use NVivo software for analyzing qualitative and some quantitative data from their field notes, interviews, and analysis of popular articles/websites. Finally, students will practice writing products for non-academic audiences, such as policymakers, the media, and the general public. The course will emphasize using anthropology research methods to address real-world problems in policy and practice in diverse cultural contexts. This course is a service learning class affiliated with the Netter Center and a Benjamin Franklin Scholars course. 


ANTH 362-401 Introduction to Digital Archaeology

Instructor: Peter Cobb

Monday/Wednesday 5:00PM-6:30PM 

Digital methods allow archaeologists to approach research questions about the human past with increasing accuracies on larger datasets and at multiple scales. This class introduces students to the three main steps of digital archaeology: data management, analysis, and sharing. Data management involves the design, creation, and curation of digital objects that capture the archaeological process and evidence. Students will gain deep familiarity in working with the main types of digital archaeological data: structured data (relational databases), 3D models/spatial data, and raster images. The class will provide abundant hands-on experience with the latest equipment and software for working with many different kinds of data. We will learn about data analysis techniques through a close examination of a variety of case studies in the literature that demonstrate how other archaeologists have applied digital methods to their archaeological questions. Finally, we will discuss the importance of sharing data through open access data publication and we will apply our skills with structured data to existing online archaeological datasets. The goal of this class is to prepare students to make methodological decisions during future research endeavors, both in the field and in the archaeological lab.