Thursday, March 27, 2014

Project Proposal - To Academia and Beyond: How Anthropology Markets to Undergraduates

According to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), “anthropologists can be found in a surprising array of fields and careers.”[1] An anthropology major is increasingly marketed as a “hot asset”[2] for a variety of career paths beyond the tenure and research track. In fact, the prospective careers for anthropology majors suggested by the AAA include more non-academic jobs than traditional anthropological positions. As the academic job market becomes increasingly competitive, it is possible that certain fields with less obvious non-academic applications must in turn increasingly justify their position to both the general public and student consumers. This type of justification marketing may be especially important for social scientific disciplines, especially given recent trends in government rhetoric and funding decisions.

This paper seeks to investigate how a variety of highly ranked anthropology programs are appealing to undergraduate students as a prospective major. This preliminary study will compile and analyze the publically available information from anthropology department websites to unveil both commonalities and variation in rhetoric and marketing strategy across campus types. In addition to collecting data from department specific websites, this research will seek to identify, if not analyze in detail, other sources of departmental marketing. These include the availability of physical marketing material for prospective anthropology majors, the existence of social media accounts for anthropology departments or departmental sections, and finally the occurrence of anthropological achievements discussed in institution news bulletins from the last academic year. Three institution types will be included in this research in order to more fully probe recent trends. These include public research universities, private research universities, and liberal arts colleges.

The following interrelated research questions will be investigated in detail:
1) How is the department structured?
2) How is the undergraduate major structured and presented?
3) How do department websites discuss post-graduate trajectories for majors?
4) How are undergraduate courses advertised in course descriptions?
5) Are common buzzwords invoked across departments?
6) What marketable skills are promised by departments?

Through an exploration of these various questions, this preliminary study will allow for the development of specific hypotheses and expectations that can in turn be tested at other institutions and potentially in other social scientific departments.

[2] Jones, Del. February 18, 1999. “Hot Asset in Corporate: Anthropology Degrees.” USA Today

No comments: