WWU’s Michael Alvarez Shepard wins prestigious award from Center for a Public Anthropology

Western Washington University Instructor of Anthropology Michael Alvarez Shepard recently won the Paul Farmer Global Citizenship Award from the Center for a Public Anthropology, a nonprofit organization that encourages its members to approach and solve public problems in anthropology in public ways.

Michael Alvarez Shepard

“Receiving this award is a testament to the quality work produced by my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology students for the Public Anthropology Essay Project,” Shepard said. “I'm proud of their efforts to engage with complex current issues and work to find culturally relevant ways to bridge ideological divides.”

This award is given in honor of Paul Farmer, who was one of the 21st century’s leading humanitarians and medical anthropologists. The award recognizes the work Shepard did on the center’s online Community Action Project, his work in the broader public sphere and the way he takes classroom knowledge and applies it to real-world challenges.

The Public Anthropology Essay Project is part of the center’s online Community Action Project, and it invites students to consider polarizing current events from multiple perspectives. Students explore ways to bridge ideological divides and find commonality on complex issues. During Fall term students wrote about "race and policing" and last term the topic was "climate change."

The Community Action Project helps students develop critical thinking skills around issues of social concern, sharing ideas and different perspectives across students from different schools and improving writing skills.

The current project focuses on facilitating difficult conversations and bridging divides around climate change through a myriad of different ways. The first of these ways is to consider and understand perspectives of those who may disagree with one point of view, to understand the social context that helps people form their opinions overall and understanding that appreciating the respective social concepts where opinions are formed can help to change people’s minds.

More information about the Community Action Project and more information about the Center for a Public Anthropology can be found on the center's website, here.