As teachers, we are increasingly called upon to promote student-centered learning and to build stronger links between teaching and disciplinary research in order to foster a culture that allows students “to take a research-based approach to their lifelong educational development” (Sproken-Smith & Walker, 2010). Scholars, academic administrators and institutions increasingly promote “inquiry-based learning”, a term referring to pedagogical approaches highlighting the importance of students’ investigative work through active learning that involve question-driven rather than topic-driven activities. While such approaches entail their own challenges, scholars and pedagogues largely agree that inquiry-based learning is a promising way forward and believe that it allows students to develop skills in self-reflection, critical thinking, the capability to engage in independent inquiry, responsibility for their own learning and intellectual growth and maturity (Spronken-Smith & Walker, 2010).
New approaches are currently being developed in anthropology and the humanistic social sciences for teaching in local as well as global settings, as scholars are asked to develop educational institutions and departments abroad in both high-income as well as low- and middle income settings. This requires the adaptation of pedagogical expectations, to align teaching with training, and the development of applied teaching techniques (Derges et al. 2012). Learning experiences in anthropology and the humanistic social sciences are broad and go beyond subject-matters to include learning about learning, learning how to unlearn, self-reflexivity, and interpersonal skills. We hope that our students will thereby develop a critical lens through which to think globally and act locally. In other words, by instilling openness to, respect for, and acceptance of individuals and groups from different social and cultural backgrounds, we aspire to provide students with the ability to communicate and act cross-culturally inside and outside of the classroom.
What is less clear is how we seek to address these goals in concrete terms. Questions that this series would like to address are: what kinds of new pedagogical approaches are being developed? What kinds of teaching tools are employed and how? How are students engaged in inquiry and research? How do these new teaching techniques impact on students’ learning, skills and personal growth? And, what impact might these new teaching techniques have on our disciplines?
If you are interested in contributing to this series, please send a brief proposal (max. 300 words) for a piece addressing the questions outlined above to Hanna Kienzler at firstname.lastname@example.org