Boldly go Towards Collaboration

Nicholas A Christakis’ story in the NY Times is serious food for thought.

Christakis starts “Let’s Shake Up the Social Sciences” with the following:

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, when I was a graduate student, there were departments of natural science that no longer exist today. Departments of anatomy, histology, biochemistry and physiology have disappeared, replaced by innovative departments of stem-cell biology, systems biology, neurobiology and molecular biophysics. Taking a page from Darwin, the natural sciences are evolving with the times. The perfection of cloning techniques gave rise to stem-cell biology; advances in computer science contributed to systems biology. Whole new fields of inquiry, as well as university departments and majors, owe their existence to fresh discoveries and novel tools. read on here

This article could worry anthropologists in training or in practice but it could just as easily excite us.  Some would rather wait for handouts and complain about the current state of affairs but not me.

I say the time is upon us to get cracking and make our own destiny!!  Some fear that the future of anthropology is outside of anthropology. If so, I’m sure that the unique skill set that the anthropological perspective brings to problems will not disappear. On my campus, I have worked in my schools of business and education quite comfortably. Off campus, I have also taught qualitative methods to members of my local police department and to psychology doctoral students. I’m still the exotic “other” from anthropology but I get the job done. I have also worked on big multidisciplinary research projects with colleagues from Economics, Sociology and Political Science and Public Administration.  Yes the world is changing but that is what the world does. I could complain about it or adapt.

When I’m lacking inspiration, I go to Jason Antrosio’s Living Anthropologically blog to remember why I got into anthropology in the first place.

One thought on “Boldly go Towards Collaboration

  1. I don’t generally like comparisons with biology departments–the disciplines are fundamentally different in terms of history and philosophical underpinnings. And I have real doubts about whether social sciences are improved by asserting we are sub-disciplines of neurology, evolutionary biology, mathematics, etc.

    Having said that, it certainly is long past time that the social sciencesand humanities seek new combinations. In my own work as a sociologist, I feel much affinity with Anthropology (one field anyway), Philosophy, History, and Political Science. Recently, I have also been wondering about Literature and Foreign Languages. I can certainly see some creative re-organizations among such departments, as well as with Psychology and another of other fields.

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