Engaged Scholarship

The Engaged Scholars Program in Anthropology is geared for anthropology concentrators who are especially interested in making deeper connections between their concentration curriculum and long-term engagement with local communities in Providence and beyond.

The Engaged Scholars Program is transitioning into an Engaged Scholarship Certificate.  Anthropology is no longer accepting new ESP applications.  More information about this change is available on the Swearer Center’s ESC website. For any questions contact  

Public art on the U.S.-Mexico border
Participants in a public art project on the U.S.-Mexico border (I. Jusionyte)

Engaged scholars combine hands-on experiences such as internships, public service, humanitarian and development work with their academic learning in order to develop a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, social engagement. While most anthropology courses have some sort of ‘engaged’ element, being an Engaged Scholar in Anthropology means making a commitment to engaging more actively and intensively with the communities in which a student is living.

For example, in ANTH 1301, Anthropology of Homelessness, students volunteer to support homeless individuals and families in Providence. In ANTH 1312, Stratified Reproduction, students design and implement research projects in partnership with Rhode Island-based home visiting programs that serve new mothers and fathers in need.


Students interested in becoming an Engaged Scholar in Anthropology do not need to take extra courses in anthropology to fulfill their Engaged Scholar requirements. While fulfilling concentration requirements, students must also complete the following requirements:

  • Either ANTH 1940: Ethnographic Methods or ANTH 1621: Material Culture Practicum
  • At least one departmental course designated as “engaged pedagogy” by the faculty. Students may choose from the list below – which will be updated periodically - or they may petition to include a relevant engaged course from another department.
  • A significant long-term practicum in engaged scholarship approved by the department’s concentration advisor and the Engaged Scholar program at the Swearer Center. Projects may be aligned with courses or pursued independently, ESP requires 150-250 hours for the practicum (projects can occur over the school year, in the summer, or both).
  • A one-semester independent study (ANTH 1970) overseen by an Anthropology faculty member that relates in some way to the practicum project or another independent ethnographic research project with an engaged element that the student has conducted, and that results in a substantial written product. Students not pursuing honors should enroll in ANTH 1970 for one semester with an Anthropology faculty member. Students pursuing honors should enroll in two semesters of ANTH 1970 while completing their honors thesis. All Anthropology concentrators are also required to take a senior seminar (ANTH 1910). For engaged scholars, the senior seminar (1990) and the independent study (1970) together constitute the engaged capstone experience.
  •  ESP students are part of an interdisciplinary community of undergraduate scholars that meets informally as well as in a required 1-credit interdisciplinary seminar, SOC 0310: Theory and Practice of Engaged Scholarship

Honors Requirements

In addition to regular concentration and engaged scholar requirements, a student must have earned a majority of “A”s in anthropology, completed two honors thesis writing courses in the senior year, and completed a senior thesis assessed as honors quality by the student’s honors committee and the department undergraduate advisor.

Engaged Courses in Anthropology

Anthropology courses with ‘Engaged’ pedagogy (as of spring 2021):

ANTH 1515 Anthropology of Mental Health
ANTH 1236: Urban Anthropology
ANTH 1300: Anthropology and Addictions of Recovery 
ANTH 1301: Anthropology of Homelessness
ANTH 1311: Language and Medicine 
ANTH 1312: Stratified Reproduction 

Director of Undergraduate Community Engagement