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University of South Florida’s response to FL Governor’s remarks about anthropology

The University of South Florida (USF) Applied Anthropology Department has put together a great response for their Governor’s remarks suggesting that the state of Florida does not need any more anthropologists.  This really isn’t about anthropology in the state of Florida though- it’s much bigger.  It’s become an effort publicize what anthropology really is, how useful it is, and to share our stories with the public.

Here is their Letter to the Editor to the Saint Peterburg Times:

Subject: Governor’s Radio Remarks on Anthropology

In a recent interview on Daytona Beach radio station WNDB-AM, Governor Scott stated that Florida doesn’t need “a lot more anthropologists in this state.” My colleagues and I in the Anthropology Department at USF encourage our Governor to do his homework on the modern discipline of anthropology before making another casual but ill-informed remark. Anthropologists at USF work side by side with civil and industrial engineers, cancer researchers, specialists in public health and medicine, chemists, biologists, and others in the science, technology, and engineering fields that the Governor so eagerly applauds. Our colleagues in the natural, engineering, and medical sciences view the anthropological collaboration as absolutely essential to the success of their research and encourage their students to take courses in anthropology to help make them better scientists. Anthropology is a human science in its own right, and many of my colleagues receive highly competitive funding through the prestigious National Science Foundation to conduct original research on contemporary social problems. Recent faculty projects have focused on issues in immigration, aging, disparities in health care, and food insecurity, to mention a few, all of which are pressing problems right here in Florida. And countering Governor Scott’s remark, the number of anthropology majors is increasing dramatically. We take this as validation of anthropology’s vital role in the modern world. Anthropology graduates get jobs in many careers outside of academia and help their employers solve the many complex human challenges facing our communities, our state, our nation, and our world. We respectfully disagree with our Governor. More anthropologists needed, not fewer, Mr. Scott. 

Brent R. Weisman, Professor and Chair, USF Department of Anthropology

One opportunity for YOU to get involved is to share your career stories. Please email Rachael Tackett if you’re interested.

In case you missed it, Charlotte Noble of USF put together a wonderful prezi about what anthropology is. You can view it here.


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