Reflects on course designed to assist students with navigating college to career choices
PORTSMOUTH – Dr. Aimee E. Huard, professor and chair of Social Sciences at Great Bay Community College, is getting national attention for a course she designed to help students make better choices about college and careers.
An anthropologist, Huard recently published an article in Anthropology News highlighting how Great Bay students use ethnographic methods to analyze shifting workplace cultures. The piece, Exploring Careers with Ethnography is based on Huard’s experience with her popular course, Introduction to Ethnography: The World of Work. Anthropology News is the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) award-winning member magazine, published on the web and bimonthly in print.
Introduced four years ago, the course approaches the working life as a cultural system of norms, and students explore careers through the cultural meaning entrenched in workplace expectations and values. They use anthropological research techniques to evaluate myths and stereotypes and gain insight into what motivates people who are successful in their careers. Through their own research based on interviews with working professionals, students have an easier time seeing the difference between a job and a career.
“The theories and techniques of anthropology have always been adaptive—they provide seasoned practitioners and new students a simple set of methods to interact with their world more deeply and critically,” Huard writes in the article. “By approaching the world of work as if it was a brand new culture, students gain a more holistic view of their current world, but also how to shape it through their careers and choices.”
In an interview, Huard said she was pleased to highlight the work of a community college and community college students in a prestigious professional journal. “In a lot of literature, the focus is on four-year students. You don’t see a lot of attention paid to community colleges, so having something published in a journal as widely read as the Anthropology News, that is important,” Huard said. “Community college students do truly excellent work under sometimes challenging conditions. Most are working full time, most have outside obligations, and the fact that they are this devoted to their education needs to be celebrated and highlighted.”
The article considers the world of college students as they grapple with the purpose of college and with choosing careers.
“Students are not always sure how college connects with career goals,” Huard said. “In a lot of cases, students come in with likes and dislikes, but they are not sure how those fit with the courses they need to graduate. This course is designed to find, or refine, a particular career pathway. The purpose of the course is to give them a series of tools using ethnographic technologies and a holistic approach to find the right career.”
Huard has enjoyed an outstanding academic and professional career. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in anthropology/sociology from Elmira College, and earned graduate degrees in anthropology – an M.A. from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and a Ph.D, from Binghamton University. She is a member of anthropological, science, and paleopathology professional associations, has presented papers at conferences and been awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Great Bay Community College is a comprehensive postsecondary institution offering quality academic and professional and technical education in support of workforce development and lifelong learning. Great Bay Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, a public system of higher education consisting of seven colleges in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth. The colleges offer Associate degrees and career training in technical, professional and general fields, including transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees. For more information on Great Bay Community College, visit www.greatbay.edu.