Network of Welsh Anthropology Students
NWAS was a staff and student joint project at the Department of Anthropology in UWL. NWAS was created as the result of a staff/student funding bid to C-SAP for the development of students projects to do with the use and dissemination of anthropology by students on the Internet and through their residential networks (Student Departmental Library). NWAS included the creation of a network of students across Wales. In order to set up the network, NWAS created a series of leaflets, sent emails -to student bodies in Wales that already existed in our files from a previous project (see Gregynog)-, and invited all students across Wales to a free workshop on producing anthropology on the Internet with a series of smaller workshops aimed at a hands-on learning of making web pages, presentations about anthropology, employability and networking. The event was subsidised through the C-SAP fund to give access to as many students as possible throughout Wales. In addition to these projects and events NWAS also set up a website, a student mail lists, and a small project for the maintenance of the student departmental library, a project that had been set up in 1998 by the Anthropology Department.
Student's participation in the production of anthropological learning and teaching often goes accompanied of discussions on the nature of student's participation of projects larger than their own degree (their own classroom studies). 'Larger projects' give students the chance to explore applications of anthropology outside the classroom, examples of this include participating in a research, organising a conference, joining efforts to mantain and archive readign and research material. From 2000 to 2006 students in the anthropology department run three projects, the anthropology socity, the anthropology departmental student library and the Tairona Heritage Trust. These provided students new venues for exploring themes such as ownership of stored material, classification, integration of old and new students in the same project, dealing with funding, understanding charity, representing student work outside the university to name a few. A recurrent issue of student participations in these venues was of continuity of the projects after the graduation of students. Another issue was the fact usally, these projects did not often figure in accounts of departmental practice.
In 2001 the members of anthropology staff encouraged students to explore 'larger projects' and supported these as best we could. One of this projects was the NWAS, or Network of Welsh Anthropology Students. Earlier in 2000 Staff had participated of a Welsh Anthropology Network that met twice a year to discuss matters relating to teaching Anthropology in Wales. I felt it would be interesting for students to set up their own network across Wales. In 2001 I had joined C-SAP and was interested in bringing some of C-SAPs concerns regarding the role of students in defining their own learning strategies to our department. Several students and I joined efforts in writing a project proposal to C-SAP for funding a student event. The event was to meet a response to our current (2001) issues. We bid for a project to encourage student organisation of the student run library, to create a website to set up the visibility of a network of students over time, to share practice among students through a small workshop about web making for anthropology. The project was lead by me and I volunteered time, chats, coffee breaks, extra-mural teaching and technical support. The project was carried out by students for students through their existing networks.
The nature of learning and teaching can not be reduced to the context of classroom participation. This project explores the possibility of staff and students approaching a funding body (C-SAP) for the exploration of themes that were current to student's needs of the time, better organisation of their existing projects: student run library, national network, use of internet technologies for disseminating this project and sharing knowledge about producing web pages with all students. Finally, it allowed these projects to figure in departmental practice through inclusion on the departmental website.
Student participation was also encouraged through the creation of a workshop/conference, including practical sessions on how to organise a conference and help on how to deal with student communication via email. Prior to this event there had been a staff student event called Gregynog that united all anthropology, sociology, criminology and politic departments across Wales but this was in danger of not runing due to changes in staff, departmental budgets and student population in Wales. NWAS was an attempt to revive the existing networks and to make them visible as a network.
In addition to the creation of a conference/workshop (read repot) it was felt students would also benefit from improving their own existing residential networks, mostly through the Anthropology student society that run the Anthropology departmetnal library. This departmental library was run by students for students and the fund helped in re-structuring the library as a meeting centre. Unfortunatelly the Department of Anthropology lost many of its staff members and gradually the Department merged with the Archaeology department. The merger meant the physical loss of the library as well as the server location of the project. The Tairona Heritage Trust, also hold within the departmental project associated with the student library also suffered from this move. The existence of NWAS allowed for students to have a smoother transition to a new merged department and to mantain this projects. The projects stopped with the graduation of students and the lack of structural support for student projects within the institution.
This project here is an archive of the many events that sorrounded student's events prior, during and after NWAS until it ceased.
The Internet For Anthropology Students
In 2001, the web was becoming a new tool for students but none of my students had the training to actually produce websites for anthropology (for engagging with anthropology and learning anthropology). I wanted to run a workshop where the production of internet pages could be demystified and access to the net made more accessible. It would take nearly seven years until the arrival of social networking that students would gain access to easy forms of student to student communication. However, to this date, the issue still remains that it is important to differenciate between user-understandings of use of the Internet, and user-understanding of producing work for the Internet.
The workshop aimed at the second. In particular aimed at trying to understand how content (anthropology) could have an impact on existing technologies and how anthropological knowlege was being created on the Internet. The final products (websites, publications, network) is the outcome of what the students did with the materials, the teaching and the support offered to them. The choices on design, the way of articulating how to look and present anthropology online, the kinds of websites to make was something we worked together, but the ultimate aim was, as with many of the projects on this site, to explore student's engagement, to look at what students do with anthropology.
The inclusion of these projects in the departmental website was made easy due to the fact I was involved in the maintenance of the departmental website. These resources were lost when the University centralised the departmental websites through a corporate site. Further documents (paper based) were also created and distributed among students but not digitalised. Thanks to C-SAP who asked us to produce a (student) report on the project it is possible now to trace some of these developments. The website was lost, what you can observe here is a copy of the original website in PDF format.
More details on the event are included in the project report. Note this is an archive of the project.
The project report is included in the full archive PDF.
The project website shows the first page of the original website, the original pages are also included in the archive project PDF.
(C-SAP) stands for Network Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics.