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Governing Council Today: Chad Morris, Ethics Committee

One of the roles that I’m honored to fill for NAPA is that of Chair of our Ethics Committee. We have a committee full of dedicated anthropologists who exhibit diverse interests and career experience, dedication to looking out for new ethical challenges that emerge as our discipline changes, and willingness to engage in discussion of best practices. I’ve asked a few of these good folks to share their backgrounds and what drew them to service to NAPA via our Ethics Committee:

Niel Tashima: I am one of the two Managing Partners in LTG Associates, Inc. We are the oldest anthropologically based consulting firm in North America. We specialize in monitoring and evaluation, program design and policy development. Our work reaches from community based organizations through local government agencies to federal policy development and program evaluation. We work both domestically and internationally. I have had a longstanding interest in the ethics of professional anthropology. I co-authored the standing NAPA Ethics Statement with Jean Gilbert and Claudia F. Parvanta, and recently, I was a member of the AAA Task Force that re-wrote the current Code of Ethics for AAA. I believe that the NAPA Ethics Committee serves a critical role in the on-going evolution of the ethical practice of anthropology.

Anne E. Pfister: I am a PhD candidate in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. My dissertation research utilized visual methods, including photovoice, to engage deaf youth participants as co-researchers to explore their identity and language socialization in the Mexican deaf community. Many of my research participants are thought to be ‘particularly vulnerable’, and this makes me keenly aware of (and interested in) ethical issues that anthropologists face. I am pleased to be part of the NAPA Ethics Committee and hope our work helps illuminate ethical concerns as well as creative solutions to our quandaries.

Robert A. Rubinstein: I am professor of anthropology and international relations at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University where I teach courses in medical anthropology and on global affairs. During my work in international health and development and through my work in peacekeeping and the relation of anthropology to the national security state I have participated in many discussions of the ethics involved in these activities. I am drawn to the NAPA ethics committee because I believe that as a profession we need clear-eyed and constructive ways of discussing and meeting the ethical challenges arising in our applied work.

Steve Pavey and Tracy Meerwarth Pester round out the membership of the Ethics Committee. In addition to being happy to support the membership through discussion of ethical issues, the six of us are charged with highlighting NAPA’s own Ethical Guidelines (http://practicinganthropology.org/about/ethical-guidelines/). I’ve found it a useful intellectual exercise to review NAPA’s Guidelines alongside the AAA Statement on Ethics (http://ethics.aaanet.org/category/statement/) and the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Statement of Ethics and Professional Responsibilities (http://www.sfaa.net/about/ethics/). The statements have many similarities, of course, but the ethical conundrums that arise in our research often lie in the subtle differences between these guiding documents, which reflect the best advice of their authors and are offered to the memberships of their respective organizations with the trust and expectation that we as anthropologists will make daily decisions in our research and practice that serve to protect our respondents, our collaborators, and our discipline. If you have a few moments to click and compare, we’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have questions about ethics in practice, we’d be happy to help. Either way, feel free to contact me and the committee via cmorris@roanoke.edu.

Chad Morris, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Honors Program at Roanoke College. He studies and helps implement community-based approaches to improved nutrition and food security in the Republic of Palau. He is an at-large member of NAPA’s Governing Council and co-moderator of NAPA’s PraxAnth listserv (to join: https://lists.capalon.com/lists/listinfo/praxanth).

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