Putting academics to use in real-world opportunities

Earlier this semester, fourth-year anthropology student Jennifer Spring lobbied government officials at the United Nations, while Christine Kirby, who is working on her MA in anthropology, flew to Iqaluit to help identify ways to improve the health system in Nunavut.

Not only did the trips allow both students to contribute to the work of NGOs, but they also earned course credit at the same time.

Spring and Kirby are both completing placements under the field placement option offered as part of their degrees. It allows anthropology students working on a thesis to gain real-life experience related to their research.

Students have been placed with organizations as diverse as the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, a Buddhist temple and an advertising agency.

Louise de la Gorgendière, who is an associate professor in anthropology, says the placements are structured so the students help the organization and add to their own research.

“It opens opportunities for them to see how they can use their anthropological skills and knowledge in a real-life situation.”

The students spend one day a week at their placements and, while the number of participants varies each year, about 15 to 20 per cent of anthropology students take advantage of the option annually.

Kirby, whose research includes development and the North, was placed with the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. She worked as project co-ordinator and once her placement is over, she will continue in this capacity for five months as a paid employee.

Her workload this summer will include putting together a research team, organizing the next meeting in Iqaluit and working on the final proposal. “Personally, I am so grateful,” she says. “A job like this I would have to work for five or 10 years to get without the placement.”

Spring has also been offered a job for the summer after her placement with the Canadian Labour Congress ends. Her research involves gender equality and HIV/AIDS in Botswana; she worked on an HIV/AIDS baseline survey being conducted by the CLC. She was sent to the United Nations for the 53rd Session on the UN Commission on the Status of Women where she participated in discussions about HIV/AIDS with other delegates, and in the lobbying of governments like Cambodia.

This entry was written by Anja Karadeglija and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: , . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=437

Anja Karadeglija

By Anja Karadeglija

Anja Karadeglija completed two undergraduate degrees at Carleton: a Bachelor of Journalism and a B.A. in Political Science. She currently works as a freelance journalist.

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