Located in Micronesia in the Pacific Islands, the island nation of Palau is approximately 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo. The country consists of a group of 343 islands and is one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states with a population of just over 20,000.
Palau is an ideal site for a field-oriented term abroad since most of the population speaks English, medical and other facilities are good, and the country is free of major tropical diseases like malaria. The Moon Handbook on Micronesia, a popular guide for tourists, says "Quite simply, above water and below, Palau is pure beauty. The great cities of the world present visitors with surprises at every corner or hillcrest. Koror, capital of the Republic of Palau, does the same in a town of only 12,000 people [with] the breathtaking setting of the town - a fantastic crazy quilt of islands, bridges, and water—that is like nothing else on earth."
Palau is renowned for biodiversity, in the sea and on land, and offers some of the best snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking in the world, with rich marine life and clear aquamarine waters. Students can experience this unique culture while enjoying the beautiful physical environment.
Course of Study
This term will introduce students to the process of doing anthropological research and the cultures of Pacific Islands, as well as giving students hands-on experience in local organizations such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), museums, businesses and schools. Through immersion in the local culture, students will conduct hands-on 'ethnographic' research. Anthropologists feel that it is important to live with members of another culture and to be actively involved in their day-to-day life, ideally through participating in a venture of common interest together. Students will learn this method both through living with a Palauan family and through working several hours a week with a local organization to gain a thorough appreciation of the social and cultural forces that shape everyday life in Palau. They will also learn how to analyze an organization as an applied anthropologist would.
The courses offered in Palau are: Peoples of the Pacific
(ANT 185T), Culture and Work
(ANT 255T) and Independent Study in Anthropology
(ANT 490T). Students will meet with Prof. Brison two days a week for classes and organized field trips. Readings focus on the work of schools and other organizations in societies and on the culture of organizations. Students will also do internships, tailored to meet the interests of individual students, for 10-12 hours a week at a local organization such as a school, a museum, or an NGO. Weekly structured exercises are designed to help students understand local culture and local organizations, and students will devise an original longer project in the second half of the term. For example, these projects may involve collaborating with local community college students to research a specific topic, such as traditional methods of preserving the environment in Palau, and may culminate in displays in local museums or proposals for curricular units in local schools.
Successful completion of at least one anthropology course, such as Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANT 110) or Qualitative Methods (ANT 363), before going on the term abroad.
After an initial orientation week, students will be placed with individual host families.
(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
Mid-January: Application deadline is the third Friday of winter term.
February: Non-refundable deposit due at the Cashier's Office in McKean House, and receipt brought to the International Programs Office
Spring term: Orientation meeting
September: Program begins
December: Program ends