My graduate seminar in the spring is one of my own design: Presenting Anthropology. Most of us of a certain age still remember slide decks and professors who droned on in semi-darkness to a semi-coherent audience. Both students and the public, though, expect more from a presentation these days. And people in a position to disseminate information -- journalists, scientists, media professionals -- are finding new and innovative ways to present that information.
So my seminar is going to be, in essence, Academic Project Runway. Now, this class has been germinating for a while, long before the popularity of Academic Tim Gunn and the newcomer Academic Nina Garcia. But there will be challenges every other week with themes like "kids" and "avant garde." There might be a dreaded button bag. Heck, there might even be an "unconventional materials challenge" (although I don't really want to grade a dozen macaroni pictures of a leaping Boas). And we'll discuss the pitfalls of premature interpretation/publication of anthropological topics, learning lessons from such sagas as the Gay Caveman.
Here's a quick spiel I sent out through the department listserv and a quick flyer I made up to advertise the course:
Presenting Anthropology (ANG6002) will focus on the ways that we can use our anthropological training to present the subject we're most passionate about to a variety of different audiences using a variety of different tools. This class will move students beyond traditional notes-and-PowerPoint presentations and encourage them to think creatively about what constitutes a presentation of data or information. We will read book chapters and articles on the benefits of adopting new methods of presentation, as well as on the drawbacks inherent in a world where information is being published and news-ified rapidly. The major component of the course is a series of projects that will give students hands-on experience designing ways to communicate their own research or an anthropological topic - project themes will include social media (blogging, wiki, etc.), print media (e.g., poster, pamphlet), audio media (e.g., podcast, interview, parody song), visual media (e.g., iPad app, interactive website, traditional video), anthropology for kids (e.g., kids' book, board game, pop-up book), and avant garde (e.g., 3D printing, designing a lab activity, Choose your Own Adventure story). At the end of the semester, each student will turn in three projects as a portfolio. If this class sounds like the academic version of Project Runway, it kind of is!