The field experience is essential to the discipline of anthropology. Therefore, majors are urged to take at least one field work course, to engage in field research during the summer, and/or to undertake independent field research under a study away program. Students considering the possibility of doing field work should be aware that several options are available to suit individual needs and that opportunities vary greatly in terms of location, duration and amount of supervision.
Field Work through the Field Work Course Option
The Community-Engaged Learning Office maintains a list of placements which provide opportunities for observation and participation which are not ordinarily available in classwork. Every field work student is supervised by a faculty member who evaluates the intellectual merit of the proposed field work, determines the amount of credit to be given, and decides upon the academic requirements for the awarding of credit. Field work may be done during the academic year or in the summer.
Summer and Independent Field Work Opportunities
Vassar students can apply for summer URSI and Ford research positions, which often include anthropology projects. Faculty may also have grant funded research opportunities. Recent projects include archaeological work for the National Park Service and cultural work funding by the National Science Foundation. Anthropology majors may propose to do independent field research with support from the Catherine Montgomery and Julia F. Gehan Field Work Funds. Use of these funds require formal research proposals that should be developed with the guidance of a faculty member.
The Community-Engaged Learning Office keeps a listing of placements for field work during the summer. If one of these is relevant to anthropology, students may work under the supervision of a member of the department and receive anthropology credit. 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.
A number of anthropology summer field work programs exist under varying institutional sponsorships. Some examples are the Ethnographic Field School of New Mexico, the Archaeological Program of the University of Jerusalem, and the College of William and Mary Summer Field School in Historical Archaeology on St. Eustabius, Caribbean. Field schools and field placements for six months are also available through programs such as Semester in Athens, the Experiment in International Living, and World College. The American Anthropological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America maintain listings of numerous field work programs. The Institute for Field Research includes field experiences for all subfields of anthropology.