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FINAL REPORT: PRACTICING ADVISORY WORK GROUP (PAWG)
Linda Bennett, Chair
T. J. Ferguson
J. Anthony Paredes
October 25, 2006
AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
I. The Practicing Advisory Work Group (PAWG) was established in 2003 by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association to help expand the AAA Operating Plan Initiatives. PAWG was charged with recommending ways the AAA can increase opportunities for the professional development of practicing anthropologists and establish an AAA affiliate program. This final report is based on more than two years of research and study, including numerous interviews with practicing anthropologists and advice provided in peer review by an expert panel. In this document, PAWG recommends a series of specific actions the AAA can take to develop more effective and inclusive programs and services for practicing anthropologists.
II. Today, less than half of all anthropologists are employed as university professors. Many practicing anthropologists working outside of academia do not join or retain membership in the AAA because they do not feel the organization serves their needs. In short, by not adequately serving the needs of practicing and professional anthropologists outside academia, the AAA is failing to realize the revenues that could be derived from increased membership by professional anthropologists; failing to represent the discipline of anthropology as a whole; failing to benefit from the significant intellectual contributions made by practicing anthropologists; and failing to realize the discipline’s full potential as a force for shaping public opinion and policy and benefiting humankind.
III. Although the AAA has made some noteworthy efforts to serve better its members employed outside of academia, the practicing anthropologists interviewed for this study think the organization can and should do more. The key finding providing the foundation for PAWG’s recommendations is that the AAA should become a more inclusive professional organization that welcomes, values, and serves all anthropologists equally.
IV. Numerous recommendations are offered to help the AAA become more inclusive. With respect to the structure of the AAA, PAWG recommends that the Institutional category of membership be renamed and redefined as an Organizational membership that is open to any institution, organization, government, association, or corporation with a demonstrable professional or scholarly interest in anthropology. Furthermore, PAWG recommends that sufficient staff and funding be provided for outreach to each major category of organizational members. Towards this end, the Departmental Services Program should be renamed and staffed to become the Organizational Services Program.
V. PAWG also makes a series of practical recommendations concerning (1) education, training, and development; (2) improving the annual meeting to make it more relevant for practicing anthropologists; (3) considering participation with other organizations in regional and specialized meetings; (4) enhancing the career development of anthropologists; (5) increasing the visibility of the AAA and more effectively publicizing the benefits of membership; (6) improving the Internet interface by which the AAA presents itself to practicing anthropologists and the public interested in anthropological research; (7) providing improved group rates for health and liability insurance; and (8) integrating practicing anthropologists better into AAA publication programs.
VI. Many of these recommendations can be implemented at little cost to the AAA. For instance, increasing the number of practicing anthropologists on the editorial board of American Anthropologist and recruiting a practicing anthropologist to edit a new column on practicing anthropology for Anthropology News do not require capital outlays or funding from the AAA. When recommendations do require a financial commitment on AAA’s part, PAWG notes this and advises the AAA to proceed only after a careful cost-benefit analysis to determine the feasibility of new services.
VII. In implementing the recommendations of PAWG, the AAA should work collaboratively with the various Sections of the AAA, including NAPA; Local Practitioner Organizations (LPOs) across the country; the twenty-four member departments of the Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA); and other interested parties to enhance the services needed by practicing anthropologists for individual professional development, career transitions, and dissemination of knowledge.
VIII. Finally, PAWG does not think its work has been completed with this final report, and therefore recommends it be established as a standing advisory committee of the AAA. The initial membership should consist of the present members with staggered terms so as to ensure continuity of knowledge as new members are appointed. Newly elected Practitioner/Professional Seat Executive Board members should automatically be invited to join PAWG. Other anthropologists who represent colleagues in the various employment sectors should be added as needed.
IX. If the recommendations of PAWG are implemented, the AAA will position itself to become the inclusive professional organization needed to better serve anthropologists in the twenty-first century. This will benefit all anthropologists, improve our discipline, and strengthen our professional association.
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is the premier professional organization in the United States for anthropology. The AAA welcomes and values all anthropologists equally with services and activities that are professionally, philosophically, organizationally, and programmatically inclusive. This inclusive vision has been demonstrated over the years by policy decisions of the AAA to serve the needs of practicing as well as academic anthropologists. In November of 2003 the Practicing Advisory Work Group (PAWG) was established by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association to take action to serve more fully the many anthropologists working outside of academia. We, the PAWG, hope that this report and the recommendations it contains will help the AAA to continue successfully the vision of inclusion that has been in place for over 30 years.
A. Need for PAWG and its work
If the AAA is going to be around in the future, it must articulate academic and practitioner anthropology. Academic anthropologists are not the enemy, but are ignorant of what most practitioners like me do. We need to talk to each other because students are not going to get jobs in academia. Most students have not discovered the opportunities that exist for anthropologists outside of academia (including high salaries). (PAWG Practitioner Interviewee).
The Practicing Advisory Work Group (PAWG) was established by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) on November 18, 2003. This was the result of Executive Board member Dennis Wiedman’s request for Board action on a Practicing and Professional Employment Initiative submitted to the AAA Executive Board on May 17, 2003 by the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA), a section of the AAA. The NAPA initiative called for fuller recognition of and service to the many anthropologists working outside of academia stating, for example, “Any employer who wants to hire an anthropologist should be able to economically and efficiently use the assistance of the American Anthropological Association”(NAPA Initiative 2003, Appendix I). This resolution from NAPA was a major motivating factor in the creation of PAWG.
Subsequently, PAWG was informally dubbed the “Practicing Anthropology Working Group” and often referred to as simply “PAWG.” The AAA Executive Board directed that PAWG was to operate for a period of three years. Original committee members named were Linda Bennett, Mari Lyn Salvador, Susan Squires, Judy Tso, and Dennis Wiedman. Later
J. Anthony Paredes and T. J Ferguson were appointed. Late in 2004, Linda Bennett agreed to chair the committee. Letters of appointment were sent in July 2004 (Appendix II). In appointing PAWG members, the AAA Executive Board attempted to select a broad-based group of anthropologists as characterized by place of employment, subfield of anthropology, and research expertise. AAA Staff members Richard Thomas and Kathleen Terry-Sharp provided central office staff support for the committee and were active participants in PAWG meetings and communications. This allocation of staff assistance to PAWG has demonstrated clear support from Bill Davis, Executive Director of AAA, and the Executive Board and AAA Presidents. Other staff members, in addition to Thomas and Terry-Sharp, who have worked on the original NAPA resolution and with PAWG over the past two years are Sandy Berlin, Paul Nuti, and Jona Pounds.
As specified in the letters of appointment, the Executive Board charged the group to address the following issues, “To expand the AAA Operating Plan Initiatives dealing with professional development opportunities for practicing anthropologists and establishment of an AAA affiliate program.” “Affiliate program” here refers to an organizational membership category that would include organizations that traditionally have not become AAA members.
The Placement Service identifies approximately 41 opportunities for anthropologists outside university settings each month. In a review of positions within a three [emphasis added] month period, the opportunities fell into the following categories: Planning and evaluation—39 positions; coordination and administration of social science research—58 positions; EIS [Environmental Impact Statements] and preservation—9 positions; and educational research –7 positions. Most of the positions required the ability to work in a multidisciplinary setting. The skills required included familiarity with statistics, EDP [Electronic Data Processing], survey design and other methodologies, with knowledge of urban planning, grants and funding, health services environmental studies and analysis of various federal programs. Educational requirements included: PhD—76 positions; MA—41 positions; and BA— “Public Affairs Report,” Anthropology Newsletter, March 1977, page 11
Despite the history of American anthropology as primarily an academic discipline, the profession has long recognized that many anthropologists were employed outside universities and that increasing numbers of anthropologists were taking non-academic positions. More than thirty years ago, D’Andrade et al. correctly predicted that the supply of new PhDs in anthropology would soon outstrip the demand for anthropologists in academia (R.G. D’Andrade, E.A. Hammel, D.L. Adkins, & C.K. McDaniel, “Academic Opportunity in Anthropology, 1974-1990,” American Anthropologist Vol. 77, No 4, Dec. 1975, pp. 753-773). Simultaneously, new opportunities for anthropologists were rapidly expanding in areas such as social impact assessment, cultural resource management, and other fields as a result of developments in national policies on historic preservation, natural resource management, education, and health care, and in product development in private industry. That trend has continued and—if anything—has accelerated in the 21st century. Additionally, a rapid rise in the use of ethnographic techniques and employment of anthropologists in business was widely recognized in the mass media during the early years of the new century. For example, in 2005, Fortune Small Business carried a cover story whimsically entitled “Pygmy Hunters: Why Microsoft (and others) are hiring ANTHROPOLOGISTS to study fast-growing little companies” by Richard McGill Murphy (Vol. 15, No. 5, June 2005, pp. 40-46). More recently, BusinessWeek online published an article by Bruce Nussbaum entitled “Ethnography is the new Core Competence” (February 22, 2006).
By 2005, according to an AAA membership survey, less than half (49.33%) of its membership was employed in teaching positions including part-time and adjunct instructors. Another 20.13% were students. The remainder of the members responding to the survey was either employed in a variety of organizations outside academia (21.37%), unemployed (4.17%), or did not answer the question (5.01%). Similarly, only 40.11% of the respondents to the 2005 AAA membership survey indicated that teaching was their primary job responsibility.
It is difficult to determine how many anthropologists with graduate degrees are not members of AAA, which currently has a total membership of approximately 11,000. Some indication of the extent to which professional anthropologists do not affiliate with AAA is provided by comparison between memberships in specialized anthropological organizations and the relevant sections of AAA. For example, the Society for Applied Anthropology has approximately 3,000 members while the AAA’s National Association for the Practice of Anthropology has about 600 members. Similarly, the Society for American Archaeology has more than 7000 members, while AAA’s Archaeology Division has 1,165 members. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists has a membership of 1,700, while the Biological Anthropology Section of AAA has less than 550 members, 40% of whom are students.
Similarly, participating academic departments collectively reported for the 2005 AAA Guide that they had awarded 2383 graduate degrees (1706 Masters, 677 Doctoral) in 2004-2005, yet the number of new AAA members for 2005 was only 652 (not counting new student and associate members). Even discounting that approximately 20% (580) of the new degree recipients might already have been student members before reaching professional status, these data suggest that many newly credentialed professional anthropologists—perhaps as many as 48% (1,151) or more in this data set—are not joining the premier anthropological organization in the United States.
In its services to employers of anthropologists, the AAA has continued to be oriented primarily toward academic departments. For example, the schedule for listings of job opportunities has been more compatible with the lengthy search processes of academic departments for new faculty members than with the quick turnaround time needed to find suitable specialists often required for projects in business, health care, non-profit organizations, industry, and government. Currently the AAA job listing continues to contain approximately 95% academic positions.
The AAA at its Annual Meeting has long hosted a breakfast meeting for academic departmental representatives that has served as a forum for addressing the common issues and concerns of academic departments. Nothing comparable to the AAA breakfast for academic departments is provided for non-academic employers of anthropologists. Plans are underway for a luncheon for non-academic employers and practicing anthropologists at the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting.
The flagship publication of the AAA, American Anthropologist, remains largely devoted to articles and book reviews that have little immediate relevance for the professional workday world of anthropologists employed outside academia.
AAA office staff traditionally has not included specialists or a department dedicated to serving the needs of non-academic organizations. Thus, in the opinion of some practitioners, staff replies to telephone and e-mail inquiries made to the AAA office have been less than acceptable when they and practitioner organizations call for information and support.
Finally, under the by-laws of AAA, individuals with an avocational interest in anthropology may become non-voting “Associate” members of the AAA, and “any institution, such as a library, museum, or other scholarly or educational institution” may become an “Institutional” member of AAA. However, the eligibility of government agencies and NGOs for institutional membership is not clear and there is no existing category of membership clearly open to “for-profit” firms, despite the growing number of such organizations that employ or contract the services of anthropologists. It should be noted, that Associate and Institutional membership entitles the member only to “receive the Association newsletter, and such other publications and benefits as the AAA Executive Board and/or the Section of which the institution is a member may authorize.”
In short, the American Anthropological Association does not appear to be adequately serving the needs of practicing and professional anthropology outside academia. As a result, the AAA is failing to secure the affiliation of large numbers of anthropologists in the country; failing to realize the revenues that could be derived from increased membership by professional anthropologists in and out of academia; failing to represent fully the discipline of anthropology as a whole–whether pursued in academia, government agencies, NGOs, business, or industry; failing to benefit from and be acknowledged for the important contributions made by practicing anthropologists; and, thus, failing to realize the discipline’s full potential as a force for shaping public opinion and policy and for benefiting humankind.
B. AAA Outreach Beyond Academia
Despite current inadequacies in serving practicing anthropologists, the AAA has made efforts in the past intended to better serve its members employed outside traditional academic roles. These include:
Most of these outreach efforts have been largely informal, temporary, and sometimes only sporadic and episodic depending upon, for example, the editorships of AAA publications. Exceptions to this pattern include the formation of NAPA, the establishment of the Practicing/Professional Anthropology Executive Board seat, and the establishment of the AAA/SfAA Commission on Applied and Practicing Anthropology. Clearly AAA’s longstanding desire to serve better practicing anthropologists has been evident. However, efforts to institute effective, broad measures to implement change have fallen short. In addition, the positive actions that the Association has taken on behalf of practitioner anthropologists have often not been well publicized and many of those who might benefit are not aware for them. According to some PAWG members, willingness to support anthropologists outside academia may be “one of the AAA’s best kept secrets.” The structural and organizational changes and allocation of resources required to provide permanent and consistent support for all anthropologists regardless of employers have been insufficient and largely ineffective. Hence, PAWG was created.
C. Identifying Specific Professional Needs for Anthropologists outside Academia
In its first two years, the primary work of PAWG has been gathering information to inform recommendations to the Executive Board of the AAA that will better serve the professional needs of practicing anthropologists, whether working as individual consultants, for small or large businesses, for non-profit organizations, or for governments. Additionally, PAWG has collected information regarding broadening organizational and institutional membership outside of academia in order to develop an “affiliate program,” as specified in letters of appointment to PAWG members. To this end, PAWG:
In addition, PAWG initiated the nomination of several practitioner anthropologists to run for AAA office and committee membership in the Fall of 2006; participated in the planning of the “Employer Welcome” and “Employer Exposition” for the November 2006 Annual Meetings; and planned, with AAA staff, a PAWG exhibit area for the 2006 Annual Meeting as an integral part of the AAA booth. PAWG used a four step process to collect, analyze and compile findings on the needs and concerns of practicing anthropologists that are contained in this report.
1. First Telephone Interview Pilot Survey
Through a variety of sources, including the networks of PAWG committee members, listings in the AAA Guide, the membership list of the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA), the Register of Professional Archaeologists, the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and other on-line resources, Chairperson Bennett assembled an initial list of seventy-four practicing anthropologists outside academia working in a wide range of employment places. This initial list included 39 individuals who were current members of AAA and 35 who were not members. Over the course of PAWG’s work, this initial list was expanded as committee members were contacted by practicing anthropologists via e-mail and at the AAA and SfAA meetings, and through recommendations of practicing anthropologist interviewees, among other sources. This expanded working list of practicing anthropologists is being developed into a database by AAA staff.
A draft interview outline prepared by Anthony Paredes was edited collectively by e-mail to produce the format for the individual interview guide shown in Appendix III. Chairperson Bennett assigned each PAWG committee member five practicing anthropologists selected from the working list (with two alternates for each) to interview during the Summer of 2005. In the end, 23 interviews were completed with individual practitioners plus two organizational leaders. The results of the survey were presented to the Executive Board in November 2005 and are shown in Appendix IV. This analysis was completed at the University of Memphis by Linda Bennett and graduate student Crystal Ton. In retrospect, it is clear that archaeologists (four were interviewed) and employees of state, tribal, and local governments (other than public college and university employees) are underrepresented in the first survey.
An additional 39 volunteered responses to the survey instrument were obtained electronically from visitors to the PAWG table at the 2005 AAA Annual Meeting, as requested of table visitors. Approximately half of these respondents were located within academic departments, and the responses were very restricted in depth. As a result, the committee has not conducted a full analysis of these data.
2. Second Pilot Telephone Interview Survey
In order to begin to identify possible interest in an “Organizational” membership (affiliate program), PAWG mounted a second pilot survey aimed at non-academic employers of anthropologists. Unlike the first survey, PAWG decided to limit this survey to the non-governmental sector, with the exception of one museum, in recognition of the difficulties in identifying the proper organizational level where personnel decisions are made in many governmental agencies.
Using a draft prepared by Linda Bennett and, again, editing via e-mail, the PAWG committee developed an interview schedule for interviewing organizational representatives (Appendix V). Potential private sector employers of anthropologists were identified by committee members also drawing upon web-based information and expanding PAWG interest networks resulting from AN articles, AAA meeting visibility, and efforts of committee members. These new contacts were added to the working master list. Within the list of employers, individual employees (all but one were anthropologists) were identified as potential interviewees who were knowledgeable about the operations of their employer and could respond to questions about the employer rather than only about themselves as individual practitioner anthropologists.
During late 2005 and early 2006, four student interviewers were recruited, trained, and supervised: two by Dennis Wiedman at Florida International University (students Anne Brasby and Christine Labriola) and two by Linda Bennett (students Bridgette Collier and Elizabeth Pulver) at University of Memphis. The students interviewed 22 individuals, and Linda Bennett interviewed another two individuals about the organizations that employed them. These data were analyzed by Linda Bennett with the assistance of graduate student Elizabeth Pulver. The result of the analysis was transmitted to the Executive Board in May 2006, as shown in Appendix VI.
In August, 2006, Elizabeth Pulver organized the results of the organizational interviews into a table of Interest, Benefits, and Potential Costs of AAA Organizational Membership (Appendix VII). A key finding of this exploratory analysis was that 63% of those interviewed believed their employers would be either definitely or at least possibly interested in an organizational membership in the AAA and willing to pay fees estimated by the interviewees ranging from $40 to $1000.
3. Expert Panel
To expand the expertise for translating the results of the two surveys into workable and practical recommendations to the Executive Board, PAWG invited 19 individuals to serve as an expert review panel for PAWG’s work. The selection was based upon recommendations of PAWG committee members, taking into account the need to broaden systematically the base of our respondents in terms of their expertise in the discipline of anthropology and—especially important—their employment sector. All 19 individuals agreed to serve as expert panelists. Thus the members of the expert panel represented a wide spectrum of practicing anthropologists in both the private and public sector and with somewhat better representation of the subfields of anthropology and local and state levels of government than in the pilot telephone interview surveys. Although membership in AAA was not a criterion for serving as an expert panelist, 13 of the 19 expert panelists were AAA members.
In June 2006 the panelists sent their responses to a series of questions posed specifically to them regarding the two survey reports. Appendix VIII provides the list of expert panelists and the series of questions asked of them. Analyses of the interview data from the Expert Panel review were conducted by Bennett and Squires and presented in two separate documents, which are shown in Appendix IX (Bennett) and X (Squires). In the Bennett report, detailed recommendations by the expert panelists are organized by categories. In the Squires report, the recommendations are summarized by top categories in an analysis format.
4. Preparing the Final Report to the Executive Board
Using the reports of Bennett’s and Squires’ analyses, Judy Tso facilitated a conference call in early July 2006 in which the members of PAWG arrived at a preliminary taxonomy of recommendations. Two other summer conference calls extended this discussion. At the request of Linda Bennett, Anthony Paredes prepared an outline for this report based upon the results of these conference calls. The outline was commented upon via e-mail by individual PAWG members. A draft of the final report was prepared by Bennett, Paredes, and Terry-Sharp over Labor Day Weekend 2006 and distributed to all PAWG members for review and comment in early September. Through e-mail and two teleconference calls, PAWG committee members worked on revisions of the draft report. Following this thorough review and additions by PAWG members, a revised version of the draft report was sent to the expert panelists who were given an opportunity to provide feedback. After this feedback, T. J. Ferguson wrote a draft Executive Summary that highlighted the main points of the Final Report. The Final Report with Executive Summary will be submitted to the Executive Board for consideration at its November 2006 meeting. A power point presentation with sections from the Final Report was prepared by Linda Bennett and Elizabeth Pulver for the PAWG Exhibit area at the 2006 Annual Meeting, and the Executive Summary will be copied for distribution at the Section Assembly and the 2006 AAA Annual Meeting. Findings and recommendations of PAWG will be discussed at the NAPA sponsored Employer Welcome at the 2006 Annual Meeting.
To get applied anthropologists interested in the AAA is a two-way street. The academics have to stop looking down their noses at us and start realizing that there are some highly qualified applied anthropologists who are doing incredible work that should be shared and should be taught. Students should not be trained to go into academia; they should be aware of the opportunities. They should get out of the academic trench and look out into the real world. (PAWG Practitioner Interviewee).
The primary principle and watchword for PAWG’s recommendations to the Board is “Inclusion.” All the specific recommendations that follow are predicated on PAWG’s central finding that the American Anthropological Association must become much more professionally inclusive philosophically, organizationally, and programmatically if it is to remain the premier, unifying force in the discipline and in the science of anthropology in the United States. Shifting the culture of the organization and its activities, including the annual meetings, to one that welcomes, values, and serves all anthropologists equally is the overarching theme in these recommendations.
A few, critical all-encompassing recommendations supersede all the specific PAWG recommendations to the Executive Board for action. These are:
In the following more detailed recommendations, PAWG has tried to identify, where appropriate, which actions can be implemented in the short term or at little or no cost, and which actions will require development over a longer period of time and, possibly, substantial allocation of funds. The categories were derived empirically from the pilot telephone interview surveys and expert panel review as described above.
1. Education, Training and Development
As a general principle, AAA should work collaboratively with NAPA, the various Sections of the AAA, the twenty-four member departments of the Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA), and others to provide workshops on:
2. Annual Meeting
There was a wide spectrum of opinion about the current state of the AAA Annual Meetings expressed by PAWG members, those whom they surveyed, and the expert panelists. Some emphasized the need for significant additions and changes to the Annual Meetings. Numerous comments from those interviewed reported experiences suggesting that some practicing anthropologists do not have an integral and respected place at the AAA Meetings. Others, however, find social comfort, intellectual renewal, and disciplinary reaffirmation in keeping to tradition in this annual conclave of anthropologists. In view of this, PAWG recommends that:
3. Regional Meetings
Many practicing anthropologists suggest that the AAA sponsor regional, specialized meetings that are smaller, more focused, and of shorter duration than the AAA Annual Meetings. Taking into consideration the costs of time and money involved in implementing this suggestion, PAWG recommends that AAA Sections be encouraged to initiate smaller conferences that meet their members’ specialized needs. The AAA needs to undertake a cost/benefit analysis of regional, specialized meetings to determine what financial or administrative support can be offered to Sections in this endeavor.
In addition, outreach to other organizations at the local, regional, and national levels is considered to be an intrinsically useful activity. PAWG therefore recommends that the AAA investigate the extent and nature of effective participation in the meetings of other organizations such as the Society for Applied Anthropology, Society for American Archaeology, Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists, High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology, and Local Practitioner Organizations (LPOs). Some AAA Sections already sponsor symposia and forums at the meetings of other organizations, and this outreach serves the interests of AAA by disseminating information about the Association’s benefits to practitioner anthropologists and, in turn, attracting their membership in AAA.
4. Career Opportunities
A number of on-going efforts by AAA to promote career opportunities in anthropology should continue and be broadly advertised in college and universities, high schools, and to the general public. Possible advertising mechanisms include the career DVD currently in production, the AAA website, Anthropology News, and public print and broadcast media. In addition, PAWG recommends:
Anthropology never lacks visibility as the exotic, ancient, esoteric, bizarre, primitive, and romantic, but public awareness of anthropology as practical science remains underdeveloped. Further supporting the marginalization of anthropology as esoterica within the discipline itself has no practical advantages for AAA membership and fails to appreciate the contributions that anthropology has made and is making to society. Central to improving the visibility of the AAA is its website. Presentation and utility of the website needs serious attention. Future resources must be secured and dedicated to more complete marketing and outreach efforts to shift the perception of anthropology from the exotic to the useful in order to achieve popular understanding of the practical value of anthropology similar to other fields of human science such as psychology. To make the AAA more visible, PAWG recommends:
PAWG finds that at a practical level many issues relating to both support for and support from practicing anthropologists must be addressed in the improvement and advertising of AAA Internet and Web-based resources including:
7. Health and Liability Insurance
In both sets of interviews, the provision of health and liability insurance plans by the AAA did not receive a strong and consistent recommendation. The employment circumstances of interviewees were so wide ranging that the need for such insurance varied a great deal. Government employees and employees of large organizations, for example, tended to be well covered by their employer’s policies. Most interviewees also realized the complexity of being able to provide such plans through a professional organization such as the AAA. There was concern that the costs of such plans might not be competitive and might not be widely marketable to AAA members. In short, no uniform recommendations regarding insurance plans emerged from the interviews and expert panel reports.
At the same time, interviewees did recognize that some AAA members, depending on place of employment, could benefit from group insurance plans, especially for liability insurance. Sole proprietorships, small consulting companies, and CRM companies--to mention some employer categories--could benefit from either a liability insurance plan and/or from information that the AAA might provide to individual practitioners or small organizations about available liability insurance.
Given this feedback, PAWG would recommend that the AAA explore possible options for its members to purchase liability insurance and to communicate that information broadly to its membership.
Based upon this information, the AAA should do a marketability study of its practitioner members to assess whether the provision of liability insurance would be financially feasible for the organization.
Many of the people PAWG interviewed talked about the desirability of starting a new publication in applied anthropology. However, PAWG does not recommend doing so at this time as a matter of cost. The committee sees AAA Sections being the proper level for starting such publications. Furthermore, other applied oriented publications already exist (NAPA Bulletins, Human Organization, Practicing Anthropology, and The Applied Anthropologist [formerly the High Plains Applied Anthropologist], (to mention some). Instead, PAWG recommends:
E. CONCLUDING REMARKS: AAA CULTURE AND THE PRACTICE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
There is an important connection between practice and academia, and the practitioners we interviewed emphasize the importance of the AAA as the facilitator of that connection. Practicing anthropology should not be a separate domain within anthropology and within the American Anthropological Association. We believe that the future of anthropology requires that practice and academia become much more closely intertwined in the education and training of anthropologists and in anthropological scholarship. Recognizing this may take us “back to the future” to the beginnings of AAA in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when applied anthropology—albeit often of a colonialist sort—reigned supreme in American anthropology. It is important history that is too often forgotten. Likewise, in pursuit of greater contemporary support of applied and practicing anthropology, we should carefully delineate what should not be lost from the existing scholarly culture of AAA, for it is that which ultimately provides the scientific underpinnings for the credibility and practical value of anthropology in health care, business, industry, government, and humanitarian organizations.
Perhaps the newest member of PAWG, archaeologist T.J. Ferguson has said it best:
The AAA needs to provide a home for all anthropologists, and a means for anthropologists employed outside of universities to continue to interact socially and intellectually with other anthropologists. The AAA meeting should combine the goals of disseminating knowledge with the need for continual education of anthropologists after they obtain their undergraduate and graduate degrees.