[URBANTH-L]Anthropology MA Career Research

Deborah Pellow dpellow at maxwell.syr.edu
Thu Jun 4 21:23:34 EDT 2009

Dear MA degree holders: 

The AAA has launched a major online survey of MA anthropologists in order to better understand the career trajectories of Masters degree holders.

Departments of anthropology nationwide graduate over 1,000 Masters students per year and yet the AAA knows very little about their careers, their educational experience, and their needs for organizational affiliation.  The survey will, it is hoped, help us all understand what happens to MAs and where their educational and career choices have led them. In addition, the AAA would like to connect with more Masters alums with regard to planning services, programs, and benefits.  Departments of anthropology would like feedback on their graduate programs' usefulness as their graduates pursue careers in the broad array of specializations that is characteristic of the discipline.

The survey is being conducted by the AAA's Committee for Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Applied Anthropology (CoPAPIA) and will remain available until August 31, 2009. It is open to anyone who received a Masters degree from a North American institution prior to 2008, regardless of previous and subsequent degrees. Anthropology PhD holders are welcome to take the survey as well, especially those have had a gap between the MA and PhD, but the survey is primarily geared towards the MA experience.

The survey information is at http://www.aaanet.org/cmtes/copapia/MAalumnisurvey.cfm. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. Queries can be directed via email to MASurvey2009 at aaanet.org. The direct URL to the survey (also found on the page noted above) is: http://research.zarca.com/k/SsRXQTsVTsPsPsP.

Thank you in advance,
AAA MA Survey Team

Shirley J. Fiske,  CoPAPIA 2009 MA Survey chair; Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland
Linda Bennett,  CoPAPIA Chair; Professor and Associate Dean, University of Memphis
Patricia Ensworth, CoPAPIA subcommittee member; Harborlight Management Services
Terry Redding, Survey Coordinator (Beta Development Associates)



A major initiative in 2009 for CoPAPIA (Committee on Practicing, Applied, and Public Interest Anthropology), a new standing committee of the AAA, is to undertake an MA alumni online survey across all major fields, from archaeology/CRM to cultural and applied anthropology. This will be the first AAA-sponsored survey on MAs; there are few data on MA alumni aside from a pathfinding survey done by Bob Harman (California State University/Long Beach) and colleagues in the late 1990s.

The overall purpose of the survey is to better understand MA career trajectories and how MAs have applied the knowledge and skills acquired in their Masters programs. The survey will provide feedback on how programs, associations, and professional groups can best serve the needs of MAs.  We hope to learn how Masters degree alumni have crafted careers, what retrospective advice they have for departmental programs, whether they continue to identify with the profession, and how we can engage them more generally in national organizations to benefit from their knowledge and experience.

Survey development has been ongoing substantively since the fall of 2008. In order to integrate multiple voices and perspectives in the design and distribution of the survey, CoPAPIA engaged an Advisory Network of experienced anthropologists representing departments with large Masters degree programs, members of the Consortium of Applied and Practicing Anthropology (COPAA), and MA alumni across the nation in diverse occupations and careers.

Ongoing survey management is provided by survey chair Shirley Fiske (Adjunct Professor, U Maryland), Linda Bennett (Professor and Associate Dean, U Memphis), and Patricia Ensworth (Harborlight Management Services). Terry Redding (Beta Development Associates) is the survey coordinator. Kathleen Terry-Sharp (Director, Practicing and Applied Programs) and Jona Pounds (Program Assistant) are providing AAA liaison and assistance.

Masters alums will be contacted through topical list serves, academic departments, and organizational list serves.  We are requesting the assistance and cooperating with a number of organizations in reaching Masters holders. Most importantly, a snowball sampling method will be used to reach MA graduates who have 'disappeared' from traditional anthropological networks. We are hoping that peer-to-peer, collegial, and friendship networks will help extend the snowballing effect.  The efforts of cooperating organizations to get information about the survey out to their broader networks of anthropologists will be critical to the survey's success. The online survey opened in May and will stay open through August 31, 2009.

Results from the survey will be published through the AAA, including the Anthropology Newsletter and the AAA web site. Individual respondents can request a copy of the survey report as well. Analysis will begin in fall 2009 and the report is expected at the end of 2009 or early 2010. An open roundtable to discuss the survey and introduce preliminary data is planned for the 2009 annual AAA meeting in Philadelphia.

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