This post is a follow-up to my previous post, Five Skills I Learned From Anthropology. If you haven’t read that post yet, you might want to go check it out first.
Here are three more skills that I have learned during my time as an anthropology student and researcher:
Studying anthropology increased my knowledge and awareness of the variety of cultures that exist in the world. Many of my courses and assigned readings during my time as a student focused on specific cultural groups and the experiences of individuals within those groups. In general, my experience in anthropology has made it easier for me to identify, learn about, and empathize with the experiences of others with backgrounds different than my own.
This skill takes cultural relativism to a new level. Cultural relativism recognizes cultural contexts, but cross-cultural communication applies this knowledge to conversations and interactions with individuals.
Anthropology has made me realize the power of teams with members from different fields of study coming together to solve a problem. In most cases, there is more than one way of viewing an issue, and therefore more than one way of solving it.
For example, in the case of an epidemic, the spread of illness is both a biological and a social issue. Knowledge of the places, times, and ways in which humans interact can be just as important in curing an epidemic as understanding a disease’s biological function. Ideally, a combination of biological and socially focused approaches should be applied to help stop the spread of dangerous illness. Anthropology has taught me to look for all possible perspectives that can be applied to a situation, and to seek the expertise of others when insight is needed in fields that I am less familiar with.
How to Tell a Story with Data
Numbers and quantitative data are (obviously) an important part of research. However, in some approaches to data, there is a missing connection between the numbers and the real-life impact that the data portrays. Anthropology does a great job in adding the “human element” back to research.
Every set of data contains a story to be shared. My time as an anthropologist has taught me how to find the narratives in the numbers and present those narratives in a compelling way.
Fellow anthropologists–what are some of the most important skills you have learned from anthropology and how do you apply them?