Campus Life  

UBC students earn awards for public anthropology essays

Anthropology Professor Diana French's Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course at UBC's Okanagan campus is producing award-winning students and earning accolades from colleagues in the field of public anthropology.

This week, the Centre for a Public Anthropology announced that 15 students from French's ANTH 100 course have been recognized with Public Anthropology Awards. Participating in a North American competition involving more than 4,000 students from 21 universities and colleges, the students were challenged to write essays on the topic "Who should be the beneficiaries of anthropological research?"

The award-winning essays, available online, were penned by students Grayson Leahy, Miranda Trops, Buhb Soo Hwang, Melissa Salomons, Samantha Batliner, Mike Kouwenhoven, Joel Pipher, Tereza Stastny, Rachel Truant, Sarah Grindlay, Liz Dumontet, Morgan LeSergent, Emily Murphy, Yongeun Lee, and Wyatt McRae.

These awards add to a growing list of achievements in public anthropology by students and their professors at UBC's Okanagan campus. Last April, Professors Robin Dods and Hugo De Burgos won Public Anthropology's Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Awards, which recognized the professors for inspiring university students to take part in the global community and think critically, respond intelligently, and act responsibly.

Rob Borofksy, Professor of Anthropology at Hawaii Pacific University and Director of the Centre for a Public Anthropology, noted this week that Prof. French -- currently serving as acting head of the Community, Culture and Global Studies unit -- has played an integral part in Public Anthropology’s online student community, showcasing the ability of UBC Okanagan students to learn effective writing skills while being active global citizens.

"She demonstrates how combining technology with cultural concerns in academic courses positively engages students to participate in the broader world beyond their university, while gaining the skills needed for a productive, active life after graduation," said Borofsky.

In 2008, students Ashlee Williams, Amy Grey and Tallina Wielders in Professor Robin Dods' Anthropology 100 course were among the international competition's top 15 winners overall.

Last December, 19 students from French's first-year course received awards in the peer-reviewed competition, writing and publishing opinion-editorial pieces focused on the plight of South America's Yanomami people, whose blood was taken for research purposes in the 1960s.

The Center for Public Anthropology is sponsoring French to travel to Brazil next February to present a gift from her class to the Yanomami Hutukara Association in Brazil. Students are giving the $1,000 award won last year for publishing their letters concerning the return of Yanomami blood, taken more than 40 years ago and currently stored in the United States.

For more information on Public Anthropology’s Community Action Website, visit:

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