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Abstract

We present the Field School model of intercultural civic education, service-learning, action research training, and collaboration (with local academic and community partners) based on field work in applied anthropology. Theoretical and methodological foundations of the Field School also include experiential learning and immersive pedagogy, multiculturalism and cross-cultural communication, international education and study abroad programs, collaborative international development, participatory research, and in-depth knowledge in one’s own specific discipline. The primary goals of these intensive, short-term action research projects in other, less-developed countries or regions are benefits for community partners that are as sustainable as possible and to foster and assess learning experiences of students. The Peabody-Vanderbilt Field School in Intercultural Education began in Ecuador and Argentina, but we focus on Field Schools in China, rural New Mexico, and South Africa. In Guangxi, P.R.C., U.S. and Chinese students learned to navigate political and cultural complexities to study migration, community needs and assets assessment, and health effects of changing diet on children, and assisted English language learning in schools, a university and a factory. Native American students from Gallup, NM, and students from Nashville, TN, travelled to each other’s locale to study the impact of diabetes in each culture and develop health education and other prevention strategies. In Cape Town, SA, students worked on health and education projects in three townships; we focus here on a collaboration with high school staff to study and reduce the high dropout rate. We analyze Field School impacts on local community partners and student-researchers.

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