Towson’s Latest Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Anthropology by the Wire

Dr. Matthew Durington, Co-Principle Investigator on the project
Dr. Matthew Durington, Co-Principle Investigator on the project

Towson, MD (March 16, 2011): The National Science Foundation has awarded an REU to Towson University for the project, “Anthropology by the Wire: Community Ethnography Through Multimedia Research.” The project, under the direction of Drs. Samuel Collins and Matthew Durington, will recruit a diverse group of students drawn primarily from area community colleges for anthropological research projects on a neighborhood in urban Baltimore. The project hopes to increase interest in post-graduate education in anthropology and the social sciences among community college students, as well as highlighting the lives, problems and aspirations of Baltimore residents in their home communities.


Over the course of 6 weeks in the summer, 15 selected students will attend seminars held at Towson University and engage in collaborative, empirical research on representations of Baltimore’s Sharp Leadenhall neighborhood using a common set of qualitative research methodologies related to the new subdiscipline of media anthropology.  While working on their own ethnographic projects utilizing diverse methodologies and forms of data gathering, including visual anthropology, participant observation, social network analysis and interviews, students will simultaneously undertake collaborative media projects using the visual, textual and audio data they’ve gathered.  These projects will take many forms, but will all include web-based, multimedia representations of the lives of people in communities that can be utilized by people in their own efforts to develop their communities. 


When students leave Towson, they will spend the next months analyzing data and completing their projects for presentation to the community, the faculty and the next group of students the following May. During this time, they will maintain a virtual community with other participants, including faculty and community associates, for additional collaboration and mentorship.  After their research experience has ended, faculty will remain in contact with student cohorts in order to facilitate transition to a 4-year university, to advise on applications for graduate programs and to facilitate the dissemination of results. 


More information and applications for the program are available at the project website.

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