University of Nevada, Reno students upheld tradition in professor Erin Stiles' and professor Deborah Boehm's Introduction to Cultural Anthropology classes, bringing home 30 awards from the Public Anthropology's Fall 2011 Community Action Project competition.
"UNR students have been very successful in winning these writing awards," Stiles said. "We think that this is significant for UNR because our first-year anthropology students are not only learning the basics of cultural anthropology, but how to actively engage as public citizens, and how to make their voices count."
Each year, students research and write about an issue of pressing ethical concern. This year, Stiles' and Boehm's students competed against about 4,000 students from 25 schools writing about research regulations through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Institutional Revenue Board processes. The students read case studies, and then wrote essays either in favor of or against certain kinds of research oversight.
"The awards are significant because they represent students who have made very compelling cases supporting their position on an issue of great ethical importance to anthropologists," Stiles said. "Through the writing process, all students learn that their voices matter, and that they have the potential to influence policy."
After writing the essays, students submit them online and each essay receives a score based on anonymous peer evaluations. They then have the option of submitting the essays to appropriate legislators and policymakers. The top 5 percent of essays with the best scores are then reviewed by the director of the Public Anthropology Project, Robert Borofsky, who determines the award winners.
This year, award-winning students included Sarah Frandsen, Kevin Duarte, Jaclyn Asken, Katelyn Leimbach, Kelly Peterson, Daisy Corona, Madalaine Mullen, Alexis Trundy, Evan Favors, Elizabeth Armstrong, Nikola Jones, Rachel Miller, Donovan Inskip, Kayla Franklin, Clay Markin, Andrea Cuddy, Emily Chamberlain, Kalina Potts, Kelsea Duffrin, Will Ross, Natasha Shukla, Chloe Williamson, Robert Hernandez, Janna Yates, Margaret Argon, Kevin Hembree, Alysha Manke, Shannon Tarte, Josh Tuaolo and Cierra Anderson.
The top 5 percent of essays with the best scores are then reviewed by the director of the Public Anthropology Project, Robert Borofsky, who determines the award winners.
"The award-winning students demonstrated that they can write skillfully about matters of significance to anthropology for a general audience - a skill that will serve them well whatever their career plans," Stiles said. "Furthermore, winning a writing award as a college student will enhance their resumes or graduate school applications."
The Center for a Public Anthropology is a nonprofit organization that encourages scholars and their students to address public problems in public ways. The Public Anthropology's Community Action Project seeks to provide students with key skills, such as objectivity, critical thinking and effective communication, that they will need to be successful in their future careers. The project encourages critical thinking regarding ethical issues in anthropology, a sharing of ideas among students from different universities and improved writing skills.
To read the award-winning essays, go to the Center for Public Anthropology website.