Field experiences are essential to the discipline of anthropology. Majors are urged to explore Vassar’s fieldwork opportunities through community-engaged learning, independent projects, or summer research. Many organizations also provide anthropological field school experiences, the selection of which should be undertaken with consultation from the student’s major advisor.
Community-Engaged Field Work
The Community-Engaged Learning Office maintains a list of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and businesses offering placements where students can conduct field observations or engage in community partnerships. Students receive course credit for their work, which is supervised by a faculty member. Credit may also be received for internships or fieldwork placements that students arrange elsewhere, and that have been approved in advance by the department and the Community-Engaged Learning Office.
Summer Field Work
Vassar students can apply for summer Ford Scholars and Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) research positions, which often include anthropology projects. These are paid summer field or lab work experiences, where students work on a faculty member’s research. Applications for Ford and URSI are due early in the Spring semester and work is usually 8–10 weeks during the summer, often but not always on the Vassar campus. Faculty may also have grant-funded research opportunities. Recent examples include archaeological work for the National Park Service and cultural work funded by the National Science Foundation.
Independent Field Work
Students may propose to conduct original research through an independent study course, the senior thesis, or a senior project. Anthropology majors may request financial support for such work from the Catherine Montgomery and Julia F. Gehan Field Work Funds. Access to these funds is through a formal research proposal with a detailed budget, that should be developed with the guidance of an Anthropology faculty member. Applications can be submitted at any time to the department administrative assistant. Funds are distributed on a first-come basis.
Many other organizations offer anthropological field experiences, some for credit, and most charge tuition. As mentioned above, Anthropology majors may request financial support for such work from the Catherine Montgomery and Julia F. Gehan Field Work Funds. The American Anthropological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America maintain listings. The Institute for Field Research offers field experiences for all subfields of anthropology, including museum studies. Archaeological field schools should be a minimum of four weeks in duration in order to qualify students for paid employment within cultural resource management upon completion of the field experience.