Experiential Education Opportunities in Anthropology

Experiential learning means learning by doing. At UTSC Anthropology we strive to create opportunities for our students to take part in a wide variety of hands-on experiences, everything from osteological examinations and primatological research at Toronto Zoo, to working with a diverse selection of community organizations, to cooking tutorials at Culinaria Teaching Kitchen lab. These diverse experiences will provide students with practical skills and life experience while providing a strong grounding in the methods of anthropological fieldwork. Below you can find listed some of the incredible experiential learning opportunities offered by the Department.

Learn more about experiential education at UTSC Anthropology

Dr. Julie Teichroeb – a primatologist - regularly takes students in her classes to the Toronto Zoo where they are taught how to carry out primatological research.  In B22 - Primate Behaviour, the students go to the zoo to do a small research project comparing methodologies by studying living primates. In D19 Primate Conservation, they complete a Conservation Challenge. This is a group project where students meet and see presentations from a panel of 3 people working for NGOs doing hands-on conservation in the field.  Students then try to come up with feasible conservation solutions for the problems presented by these speakers, and the students present their solutions back to the speakers in a little conference at the end of term. They then write a reflection on their experience doing this. 

In ANTC47- Human and Primate Comparative Osteology, a course taught on a rotating basis by Genevieve Dewar and Michael Schillaci - the first hour is spent going over bone biology and bone anatomy and then students spend 2 hours per class identifying those bones using our human teaching collection. In ANTC48 - Advanced Topics in Human Osteology students learn how to use the methods of forensic anthropology to determine the individuals ‘identity-sex, age-at-death, mass, stature, pathologies etc. Students, then, write a group report (Osteobiographic report) and present their findings on the last day of class.

ANTD70 - Archaeological Field Methods (coming soon in May 2024) - During the summer semester, students will be given the opportunity to conduct archaeological field work in Pleistocene age rock shelters.  Some years this work is carried out in Namaqualand, South Africa, while in other years, students may go to the highlands of Lesotho, to examine evidence for social and technological innovations that allowed Homo sapiens to move out of Africa and colonize the old world and in particular marginal environments. Through these experiences, students learn archaeological methodology including how to excavate and record the site using survey equipment (a Total station, camera, and iPads, a drone and GPS units). Coming soon – students will also have the opportunity to conduct archaeological fieldwork on the eastern steppes of Mongolia.

ANTD20 - Culture and Community (taught by Lena Mortensen) is an advanced undergraduate research seminar designed in partnership with community-based organizations in Scarborough and the GTA, and focused on exploring the immediate urban environment from an anthropological perspective.  This course is designed to challenge students to make connections between intimate, everyday actions and the greater social and political contexts that shape or constrain local senses of belonging, as well as to understand how community stories help shape and contribute to our collective sense of place. In this course, students work alongside the Toronto Ward Museum to carry out community-based collaborative research.   

ANTD71 - Community Engaged Fieldwork with Food (also taught by Mortensen) is an advanced undergraduate research seminar focused on exploring the cultural dimensions of food and community in our immediate urban environment. The course is designed in partnership with community-based organizations in Scarborough and the GTA, through which students investigate topical issues related to continuity and change within diasporic foodways using fieldwork and experiential learning to better understand the many intersections of food, culture, and community, as well as contribute to the ongoing work of the Culinaria Research Centre. This course centers hands-on exercises and experiences with food and community and culminates in a major research project based on original research and the needs of our community partner.  

ANTB64 - Are You What You Eat? The Anthropology of Food. Tutorials for this class take place in the Culinaria Teaching Kitchen lab, which allows students to connect their weekly content to multisensory experiences with food.  Through engagement with food and cooking in the kitchen they learn about the connections between senses and memory, they experience the multifaceted labor of food preparation and kitchen work, and they develop cooking skills and gain experience with a wide cultural range of recipes and techniques.

ANTD05 - Advanced Fieldwork Methods in Sociocultural Anthropology. In this course, which meets every two weeks over two semesters, students design and carry out their own original ethnographic research project on a topic of their choice. Leading up to the actual “doing” of fieldwork, students apply for and receive ethics approval through the University of Toronto’s Office of Research Ethics, write and workshop two distinct literature reviews, and draft a methodology report. Once these pieces are in place, students spend 2-3 months carrying out participant observation, conducting interviews, and experimenting with creative research methodologies. Fieldsites may include local businesses, institutions, student clubs, or organizations in/around the GTA, as well as online communities and fora. As a final project, students create a conference poster or write a paper for presentation at an anthropology conference (either the AAA or CASCA Annual Meetings) that they may also turn into an article for submission to a peer-reviewed undergraduate journal.

This past fall, students in ANTB66 - Spiritual Paths: A Comparative Anthropology of Pilgrimage and ANTC66 - Anthropology of Tourism and Placemaking, travelled to Kinomaage Waapkong, or the Teaching Rocks, an important Anishinaabeg sacred site located within Petroglyphs Provincial Park. This full day event was led by Jack Hoggarth, a knowledge keeper from Curve Lake First Nation, who introduced students to Ojibwe ceremony and shared teachings at the site, as well as in exchanges at the UTSC campus. The visit to Kinomaage Waapkong was part of a broader partnership between Professors Donna Young and Lena Mortensen and the Curve Lake Cultural Centre, working collectively to introduce students to critical issues in the study of Indigenous spirituality, heritage, and placemaking through land-based learning.