Anthropologists on the Public Stage

Why is this magazine from the 1970s the last highly public work from an anthropologist?

The Problem: 

A longstanding issue for anthropology has been its low public visibility. The effects in the US, UK, and elsewhere range from erroneous assumptions about the discipline, to still too few "seats at the table" in contributing to public conversations and debates, policy, and governance. Economists, psychologists, and political scientists are first among the social and behavioral scientists to be interviewed by journalists when unexpected local and national events take place, human actions are questioned, politics are debated, and new movies and books are reviewed. 

Many anthropologists have been asking: “But where are the anthropologists?”


Fortunately, there has been a growing trend in anthropology toward a greater public presence, accelerated by COVID-19. We built on this trend by developing a web-based, modular training program to motivate and coach many more anthropologists to enter the public sphere. To us, the time was ripe for a step change in public perceptions of the discipline. Our trainings will help deliver that transformation and position anthropology to thrive in the public forum. The Wenner-Gren Foundation, through its Global Initiatives Grant, concurred and funded the material costs of our work over the last two years.

These six web-based trainings build on the trend among anthropologists to accelerate their public presence by inspiring them to enter the public sphere. An array of options is open to anthropologists—often in conjunction with their current instructor, practitioner, or student role. This course emphasizes being strategic and intentional in both planning and execution so that anthropologists will build their capacity and confidence out in a public world.

Still from Module 6

What will I learn?

Hosted by Adam Gamwell, this course consists of six video modules based around areas of impact. Each video contains interviews with luminary anthropologists, social scientists, experts in marketing, public relations and science communications. Each module also has accompanying exercises, designed to be completed on your own time and to enable you to start integrating course insights into your own process.

Why take this course?

Have you ever wanted to increase your impact, influence and capture the interest of people beyond academia? Then this course is for you. 

The anticipated outcome of this training program will be an increase in anthropologists' capabilities and confidence in sharing their anthropological perspective and analysis publicly with the news industry (e.g., broadcast, print) and policymakers, as well as with the global public through social media and other digital platforms. We plan to collect participant evaluations prior to, immediately following, and six months after the training; the latter will seek evidence of the training's effectiveness (e.g., successful broadcast interview, participation in policy working group, call from a reporter). 


Is the course free?

Anthropologists on the Public Stage is currently free for participants. The collective wisdom and experiences shared by anthropologists across industry, public and educational spaces is priceless. Anthropologists on the Public Stage is an entirely volunteer led project that took our small team of five over two years to create.  We also believe creators and artists should able to support themselves through their work and labor. In effort to balance these realities, after an initial phase, when the courses are phased in at no cost to users, a fee will be required to cover expenses associated with making them available online (support, hosting, upkeep, etc).  We encourage everyone who is interested to register as early as possible during the current free period. 

If you are a group or organization interested in using this course in corporate training, contact us below. 

Other questions? 


Anthropologists on the Public Stage was created with support from a Global Initiatives Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation.