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Ethnographic research enables us to grasp the complexity and diversity of human experience. This subject provides an invaluable opportunity for students early in their studies of anthropology and related fields to undertake hands-on research in field sites close to home. In 2019, we will focus on understanding aspects of the student experience at the University of Melbourne. Teaching is seminar style, with short lectures and discussions of the practice of ethnographic research. Much of our meeting time will be focused on collaboratively developing research plans, sharing research results, and making sense of our findings. Working as individuals and in groups, students will 1) formulate a set of theoretically-informed research questions; 2) design plans for answering those questions through empirical research; 3) develop a protocol for engaging ethically with research subjects; 4) undertake a range of research activities, which may include participating in activities with research subjects, observing public events, mapping social or spatial relationships, and conducting open-ended or semi-structured interviews; 5) interpret the empirical data to produce an ethnographic analysis; and 6) reflect on the challenges and insights of ethnographic research. Through this process, students will deepen their understanding of the craft of research, gain confidence in their research and communication skills, and experience the excitement of ethnographic inquiry.
Intended learning outcomes
- Learn how to formulate theoretically informed questions that can be answered through ethnographic research;
- Undertake hands-on research, gaining practical experience and a critical awareness of the strengths and limitations of diverse ethnographic research techniques;
- Gain new insights into the university and broader community as well as the issue that is the focus of the research for the semester;
- Work collaboratively with peers and instructors on a shared project, making the most of the diverse skills and experiences of individual team members;
- Effectively communicate with peers and a broader audience in oral and written formats.
Last updated: 13 October 2021