Professor publishes book exploring need to apply anthropology to general education

April 07, 2022

Hillary Haldane, director of general education

In her latest book, “Applying Anthropology to General Education,” Professor Hillary Haldane explores how educators can reevaluate general education through an anthropological lens. The book was co-authored by Jennifer Wies, a professor of anthropology and associate provost at Eastern Kentucky University.

“General education has made the U.S. college system what it is,” Haldane said. “Our students will continue to benefit from this wide-ranging education, that challenges them, exposes them to worlds unknown, and allows them to think through problems or questions that no single discipline or major can address alone. We are richer thinkers, doers and beings because of general education.”

Students can greatly benefit from applying anthropology to their educations, she said.

“Our species’ survival, and the survival of all other animal and plant species, depends on us listening to and learning from one another, from learning different ideas, diverse worldviews, alternative methods and asking novel questions,” said Haldane. “Our survival doesn't come from training for a career. Our ability to survive and thrive comes from our education. The more broad and rich that education is, the better off our planet will be.”

Professors who want to begin to implement anthropology in their courses can start by listening to their students, embracing human differences and being humble, Haldane said.

“Every single one of our students brings with them their own perspectives and experiences,” she said. “When we open up the learning space to embrace all that beauty, it can be a truly transformative educational experience.”

It’s OK for faculty to be unfamiliar with anthropology because there’s always time to learn, Haldane said.

“Oftentimes faculty feel pressured to be an expert on all things, at all times. While faculty are certainly content experts in their own right, there is a lot we don't know, and when we can accept that, it opens us up to the ability to learn from others, pursue further studies ourselves, and continue to improve our thinking and doing,” said Haldane.

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