iup skyline.jpg

Faculty members at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology were awarded a $10,700 grant from PA GOAL (Pennsylvania Grants for Open and Affordable Learning) to assist in efforts to create a free digital textbook for introductory anthropology courses, such as Anthropology 110 (Contemporary Anthropology).

The PA GOAL program encourages and supports creating, adapting, and adopting Open Educational Resources and other zero-cost materials at Pennsylvania institutions of post-secondary and higher education. Funding for the program is provided by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and managed by PALCI, a nonprofit membership organization.

PALCI (Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration and Innovation), currently includes more than 70 academic and research libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, including IUP, with a mission to enable cost-effective and sustainable access to information resources and services for academic libraries.

The digital textbook, more formally known as an Open Educational Resource (OER), is designed to depict the holistic, applied and interdisciplinary aspects of the field and help students understand how they can apply anthropological concepts to their lives.

Enrolling approximately 900 students per year, the ANTH 110 class serves IUP as a Social Science and Global and Multicultural Awareness elective within the Liberal Studies curriculum, and, most recently, as a requirement for the new Cultural Competencies certificate. By reducing the materials cost for this course to near zero, the OER will make ANTH 110 a little more affordable for students attempting to complete college on a budget.

The discipline of anthropology is committed to improved diversity, inclusion and accessibility by helping students realize that despite cultural differences, we are all humans. Anthropology strives to reconcile differences, improve communication between disparate groups and resolve socio-cultural questions at many different levels of society.

Led by faculty member Dr. Andrea Palmiotto, all members of the IUP anthropology faculty are contributing to the OER, which will also include video contributions from a wide range of experts. The OER will be published on OER Commons, a free platform, where it can be viewed via the website or downloaded as a PDF.

“This grant is indicative of the student focused work that my colleagues do every day,” Dr. Ben Ford, chairperson of the IUP Department of Anthropology, said. “I’m really proud of how everyone came together on this project.

The OER will likely be used by Anthropology instructors across the English-speaking world. This is very exciting.”

In addition to OER Commons, IUP’s Center for Media Production and Research is designing a digital textbook to be hosted on a custom website. A physical copy will also be available at-cost to students.

The Introductory Anthropology OER will be Attribution-ShareAlike licensed (CC BY SA). The goal is to design a quality, zero-cost introduction to the four fields of anthropology that promotes success among college students who are unable to afford high textbook costs and provides faculty more flexibility in their teaching.

The OER will be made available to universities and learning institutions everywhere and will represent a unique and relevant approach to this field. There are more than 500 universities offering bachelor’s degrees in anthropology in the United States.

Introductory four-field anthropology courses are common offerings in many anthropology departments. Of the 10 PASSHE schools offering anthropology courses, five of them teach a four-field introductory course.

The grant provides funding for professionally copy editing, digital textbook creation, web hosting, and advertising.