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Science

Florida Governor Questions Value of Studying Anthropology

By Erik W. Robelen — October 13, 2011 1 min read
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week talked up the need to encourage more STEM majors in his state, but don’t get him started on anthropology.

“How many more jobs do you think there is for anthropology in this state?” he said, according to the Associated Press. “You want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology?”

The story explains that in these and other remarks, he called for shifting more funding to promote degrees with the best job prospects, but repeatedly dissed anthropology as a loser in the job market.

“It’s very unfortunate that you would characterize our discipline in such a short-sighted way,” wrote the leaders of the American Anthropological Association in a letter to Gov. Scott this week. “Perhaps you are unaware that anthropologists are leaders in our nation’s top science fields, making groundbreaking discoveries in areas as varied as public health, human genetics, legal history, bilingualism, the African-American heritage, and infant learning.”

This story led me to wonder to what extent anthropology has been introduced at the secondary level. In my quick search, I came across a 2005 essay touting the benefits of integrating anthropology at the high school level.

“What better science is there than anthropology—the study of humanity—for helping our students to make connections between their studies and their lives?” wrote anthropology professor Lauren M. Hasten from Las Positas College.

I also found a master’s thesis that describes an anthropology class at Durant High School inµdrumroll please—Florida.

Also, a follow-up AP story reports that Gov. Scott’s daughter majored in, you guessed it, anthropology.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.