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Monday, January 19, 2015

CASCA2015 Roundtable Call for Participants - Landscapes of Knowledge: Teaching Anthropology in Canada Today

Casca 2015 Roundtable Call for Participants -- Landscapes of
Knowledge: Teaching Anthropology in Canada Today

In recent years, the educational climate within Canadian university
contexts has changed dramatically. The democratization of universities
since the 1960's, coupled with the increased availability of
government-sponsored student loans, has made postsecondary education a
prerequisite for "middle class" employment, and students therefore
expect to find middle class jobs upon graduation. In addition,
neoliberal restructuring policies of various governments and
university administrations, coupled with changing student demographics
and increasing tuition rates have challenged many of the traditional
roles, values, and expectations of academia. Postsecondary education,
many complain, has been reduced to a game of metrics, with educators
feeling pressure to retain students (and their tuition dollars) by
tailoring course offerings to meet perceived student demands, or to
expand or repackage undergraduate programmes at the expense of
disciplinary depth and breadth. Within this co!
ntext, professors and teaching assistants also grapple with
changing high school curricula that deemphasize writing and critical
thinking skills. As a result, university educators worry that most
first year students are unprepared to meet the demands and rigors of
traditional university pedagogy. To address the increasing numbers and
demands of undergraduates, there has also been an increasing reliance
upon underpaid and oftentimes overworked sessional or contract
faculty, as well as the implementation of new "teaching track"

The goal of this roundtable is to spark a productive dialogue about
teaching anthropology within this neoliberalized landscape of
knowledge. We invite postsecondary educators within anthropology to
share their teaching experiences, and to foster a dialogue surrounding
the following questions/issues:

- What are the challenges for teaching anthropology within an
increasingly pragmatic, "job-oriented" student culture, and how do we
address them?
- How can anthropology be used to develop critical
awareness/thinking/writing skills among students?
- How does the imposition of student "client-based" models of pedagogy
affect us as teachers of anthropology? What does it mean to engage
students in this context? What strategies do we use to work within, or
even against, this model?
- How is the discipline impacted by the development of two-tiered
streams of professorships (teaching track versus research stream)?
- How does this new landscape affect contract teachers of anthropology?
- How are instructors engaging with administrative pressures to
incorporate various teaching technologies in the classroom? What
technologies (if any) do you find most helpful in teaching critical
thinking skills?

If you are interested in participating in this Roundtable, then please
contact Maggie Cummings ( and Karen McGarry
( by February 1. Please forward a brief outline of
your teaching experience and tell us which questions you are
interested in discussing.

Dr. Karen McGarry
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
Chester New Hall, Room 524
McMaster University
1280 Main St. West
Hamilton, Ontario
L8S 4L9

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