General Course Information

SOAN 302

The Research Process: Ethnography and Qualitative Methods

Fall 2011

Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-2:45 PM, Bi Hall 438

Lab: Tuesday/Thursday 3:00-4:15 PM, Bi Hall 117


Prof. Svea Closser

Munroe Hall 306

Office Hours: Monday 11:30-2:30, and by appointment

Office Phone: (802) 443-5188



Course Description:

Cultural anthropology’s core methods are deceptively simple: we hang out with people and we ask them questions about what they do and what they believe. But to become a skilled ethnographer—someone who can turn the information they collect in participant observation and interviews into nuanced, compelling, accurate descriptions of people’s lives—training in the craft of qualitative research is very helpful. This course will give you the tools you need to design and carry out qualitative research of quality.


We will start with the basic methods of cultural anthropology to give you experience using these methods and to help you discover what works and what doesn’t for you and your research questions. From there we will move on to research design: What methods should you use to answer what questions? How can you design research that leads to valid conclusions? As you think more about the research project you are designing for this course, you will have the opportunity to explore additional methods that may give you other ways of answering your research questions.


This course has a lab component. As a class, we will design and conduct a research project that explores an issue on campus. Each week, we will explore this topic using a different method, which will allow you a chance to experience the strengths and weaknesses of different methods, as well as the ways they may complement each other, firsthand. You will need to spend additional time outside of lab organizing the data you collect, and reflecting on the ways the method did or didn’t work for our project.


Course Materials and Resources:



Bernard, Russ, Research Methods in Anthropology, 4th ed. (recommended)


Class Website

Additional readings and a discussion board are on WordPress and Moodle, accessible from the Course Hub.


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