This post provides a detailed sample with course grades breakdown, separate submissions, and grading rubrics. This is a syllabus for a 4th year undergraduate political science course, and it serves as an excellent (adaptable) guide for designing your own course syllabus with a significant ethnographic component.
In this post, we provide some general topics for smaller ethnographic assignments (these could weigh around 5% or 10% of the participation or final course grade). Below each topic is a rubric that makes grading more manageable.
The challenge we often face while incorporating ethnography in undergraduate classes is that most students find it difficult to narrow down their interests and choose a specific topic for their assignment. Far from limiting students’ choices, this list of suggested topics helps students get a sense of how they can structure their project, choose a field-site, or suspend the tyranny of choice. The list we offer here is designed for a course with a focus on social movements, yet it serves as a template for you to modify and change as you fit. Most of the suggested topics here are designed for a major course assignment (these could weigh up to 15% or 20% of the final course grade).
In preparing your course syllabus and designing your ethnographic assignment-s, it is be a good idea to provide a list of further suggested readings on ethnographic methods and techniques. We created this list of introductory and accessible texts to help your students answer some questions on interviewing or writing fieldnotes.
As TAs, you have a major role in supporting students every step along their ethnographic journey. While many of these tips might apply equally to teaching other non-ethnographic courses, we advise you to be extra friendly, present, patient, and supportive in teaching ethnographic courses. We share an engaging infographic here that will be helpful in your teaching experiences.
Depending on the type of ethnographic research your students will undertake, you might need to obtain an ethics approval from the Ethical Review Board (ERB) in your university. In some cases, you might have an internal/delegated ethics review board in your department which will be responsible for reviewing your ethics documents. We share some templates here that will help you with your own ethics documents & applications.
If you decide to incorporate an ethnographic practicum component in your undergraduate course, we recommend that you spend one class (or more) during the first few weeks of the semester introducing ethnography to your students. We share some slides here that walk students through the major steps in their ethnographic journey. These can serve as an inviting quick guide to ethnography. The slides include a list of ethnographic methods such as interviewing and media analysis, challenges of beginning fieldwork, tips to choosing a field-site and writing field-notes, and reflections on positionality.
This is the first post of a series on ethnographic teaching materials for undergraduate students both within and beyond anthropology. The resources shared in this series are the culmination of the efforts of faculty members and teaching assistants at the University of Toronto. We have tried, tested, and developed everything posted in this series over the course of months (if not years in some cases). By sharing these resources, we invite professors, teaching assistants, and students to engage with ethnography in their different class settings.