Nonprofit Research Paper Ideas For Anthropology

So/An 373 – Ethnographic Research Methods Final Papers

One of the requirements for a Sociology/Anthropology major is to take So/An 373 “Ethnographic Research Methods”. Students design and conduct their own small-group research, analyze their results and write an ethnographic research paper of their findings as their final project. Here are the final papers from the past several years.


Collaborative Community-Based Projects:

Mind the Gap – Volunteering for HealthFinders Collaborative

Farming Sustainably in Northfield – Community Dynamics and Motivations

Discovering Educational Agency – An Exploration of the School of Environmental Studies, Cornerstone Montessori School and the Minnesota Waldorf School

Campus-based Projects:

Stress and the First-Year Experience

Perceptions of Community – Understanding the St. Olaf Experience

Investigating Masculinity at St. Olaf College – A Study of Perceptions and Identities of College Males and Male Behavior

Imported Diversity at St. Olaf College – Assessing Cross Cultural Relations between International, Multicultural, and White Students

How to Make Your Resume Sparkle – Insights on Motivations and Pressures to Volunteer at St. Olaf College

Family and Community at St. Olaf College

Call Me, Maybe? – Student-Parent Value Differences and its Effects on their Communication

A Cultural Analysis on Depression at St. Olaf College – Understanding Students’ Help-Seeking Behaviors


Collaborative Community-Based Projects:

A Community Approach to Evaluating the HealthFinders’ Pura Vida Healthy Lifestyles



The Creative Class Returns to Northfield: Alumni Worker Profile

Campus-based Projects:

Integrating the Liberal Arts, Career, and Vocation: St. Olaf Student, Faculty, and Staff Perceptions and Insights Surrounding the Main Street Project

Oles’ Perception of Political Discourse on St. Olaf Campus

Perspectives on Diversity at St. Olaf College: An Ethnographic Study

Where Your Best Isn’t Good Enough: Perceptions of Mental Health and Overachievement at St. Olaf College


Collaborative Community-Based Projects:

A Strategic Analysis of the Northfield Nonprofit Sector

Bringing Theory to Practice Academic Civic Engagement at St. Olaf College

The Economic Impact of the Arts in Northfield

Campus-based Projects:

Building Community Through Traditions: Demystifying Identity Through Rituals

Invisible Boundaries: Diversity in Student Organizations

Mind, Body, Spirit: Health Perceptions at St. Olaf College

Out of Place: Culture Shock and the Reentry Experience

Reality Check: A Study of Diversity and Integration at St. Olaf College

The Relationship Between Athletics and Student Life at St. Olaf College


Collaborative Community-Based Projects:

Multinational Communities- Understanding the experiences and perceptions of Latinos in Northfield, MN

Local Food Infrastructure- Collaboration with Market Fair

The Economic Cultural and Social Importance of the Northfield Library for the City Center

Campus-based Projects:

They happen so fast! Deconstructing the Discourse of Relationships at St. Olaf College

The Norwegian Ethnic Expression at St. Olaf College

Social Rules and Relationships

Ring by Spring: An Examination of the Actuality and Perception of Young Marriage and Engagements at St. Olaf College

Minnesota Not-So-Nice: Interpersonal Conflict on Campus

How Invisible Are You: An Exploration Between the Divides of Visible and Invisible Social Groups

Getting Help: The Role of the Counseling Center in the Lives of St. Olaf Community Members

Northfield Neighbors: Attitudes and Beliefs about St. Olaf


Collaborative Community-based Projects:

The Effects of the Economic Crisis on the Northfield Library and its Booker Bus Program

An Ethnographic Analysis of the Northfield High School TORCH Program

Exploring “At Risk”: An Ethnography on an After-School Program Targeting “At-Risk” Elementary School Students in the Rural Upper Midwest

Exploring Senior Altruism in Northfield

A Study of the TORCH Collaborative Northfield Middle School

Campus-based Projects:

An Analysis of Function, Structure, and Hierarchy in the Academic Department

Backstage Pass: The Hidden Culture of Dance Technicians

The Dialogue of Race on the St. Olaf Campus

Gender, Body Image, and Working Out in Tostrud Center

The Great Conversation: Investigating a St. Olaf Tradition

The RA and JC Story: A Study of Residence Life at St. Olaf College

Student Perceptions of the St. Olaf Counseling Center


Campus-Based Projects:

Community, Surveillance, and Distinction: A Culture of Food at St. Olaf College

Dorm Drama: An Analysis of First-Year Roommate Relationships at St. Olaf College

Perceptions and Perspectives of Diversity at St. Olaf College

Perceptions of Socioeconomic Class Among Students At St. Olaf College

Sport Culture

Study of St. Olaf Choir Cultures

The Culture of Off-Campus Events

The Political Climate of St. Olaf College

The Social Construction of Depression at St. Olaf College

“Reality” and Ridiculousness: The Live Action Roleplayer Experience at St. Olaf College


Campus-Based Projects:

After Study Abroad: A Study in Personal Development

Being Out, Ole Style: The GLBT Experience at St. Olaf College

Perceptions of Leadership at St. Olaf College

Multicultural Women’s Experience at St. Olaf College

Senioritis: An Analysis of the Senior Experience at St. Olaf College

The Needs and Demands of Students as a part of the St. Olaf College Community

The Social and Academic Experience of Male St. Olaf Hockey Players

Community-Based Project:

Colleges, Cows, and Contentment: Perceptions of Northfield and the College Choice


Campus-Based Projects:

Being Muslim at St. Olaf

Ethnography of the Sociology/Anthropology Department at St. Olaf College

Fight or Flight: Multicultural Student Life at St. Olaf College

Interracial Interaction at St. Olaf: Friendship Groups

The JC Experience

Through the Looking Glass: The Social Behaviors of Christian Students at St. Olaf College

Community-Based Project:

Spheres of the Elderly: Interpreting the Lives of NRC Residents


Campus-Based Projects:

A Land of Golden Girls

A Whole New World

Consumption and Spending Patterns at St. Olaf College

Finding God Among Oles

Language Houses

Life After Popping the Bubble

The Marijuana Community at St. Olaf College

Who Can Sit at the Table?

Community-Based Project:

Goals and Dreams of Adolescent Women


Campus-Based Projects:

One Fish or No fish

Girls Can Play Too

Community-Based Projects: 

Adult ESL Learners in Northfield

Caffeine & Nicotine

VFW Post 4393

The Experience of Latino Students Attending Northfield High School

Second Language Learners in the Northfield Elementary Schools

Other Projects:

A New Paradigm of Community

Workplace Culture

The Internet as a Community

The Role of Religion in the Cambodian Immigrant Experience

The Acculturation of Cambodian Families of Different Generations

Recent studies indicate that a growing number of anthropologists are pursuing alternatives to traditional tenure-track academic careers.

The AAA seeks to provide support and community for anthropologists throughout the spectrum of professional activities. As a result, the information provided below is intended to benefit practicing anthropologists in a variety of academic and non-academic settings.

Help us maintain a central location of Resources for Practitioners. Please contact Daniel Ginsberg to suggest any additional services or sites of value to our community of practicing anthropologists.

AAA Sections, Committees and Sister Organizations

The Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology was established in 2008 to explore and engage the range of issues emerging as a result of the increasing number of anthropologists in and outside the academy doing practicing, applied and public interest work. The responsibilities of the Committee range from establishing liaisons with appropriate Sections to help serve the interest of practicing, applied and public anthropology, to developing recommendations for training and professional development. Please visit the CoPAPIA page for further information on the work of this committee.

In addition, the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA) was founded in 1983 to promote the practice of anthropology and the interests of practicing anthropologists, and to further the practice of anthropology as a profession. The NAPA websitefeatures a blog, member publications, advice for starting a Local Practitioner Organization (LPO), and more.

The Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) promotes the use of ethnographic investigations and principles in the study of human behavior as they are applied in business settings. Beyond this, the conference aspires to promote the integration of rigorous methods and theory from multiple disciplines into business practices; to advocate business decisions based upon sound research; to promote public recognition of practicing ethnography as a profession; and to support the continuing professionalization of the field.

DANG, the Digital Anthropology Group
The Digital Methods Groupis a network of anthropologists interested in how Internet driven platforms of social exchange are challenging the way research is done, how anthropology is taught, and how anthropologists communicate with each other, the public, and our subject communities. Organized as an interest group under the American Anthropological Association it acts as a forum for sharing ideas, promoting online activities, and advancing our professional concerns.


Please be advised the AAA is not responsible for either these websites or the information they provide but merely supplies the information as a service to the anthropological community.


A number of organizations support the interaction and collaboration of practicing anthropologists and scholars working independent of academia.

National and international organizations

The Ronin Instituteis devoted to facilitating and promoting scholarly research outside the confines of traditional academic research institutions.

The National Coalition of independent Scholars(NCIS) welcomes people who are pursuing knowledge in or across any fields whose credentials demonstrate an active involvement in independent scholarship in any field, as evidenced by advanced degrees or presentations/publications.

The Versatile PhD mission is to help humanities and social science (and STEM as of July 2013) graduate students identify and prepare for possible non-academic careers. The free community is open to anyone and offers a rich support system for those possibly transitioning into non-academic careers.

The Society for Applied Anthropologyhas for its object the promotion of interdisciplinary scientific investigation of the principles controlling the relations of human beings to one another, and the encouragement of the wide application of these principles to practical problems

The American Evaluation Association's mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods, increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession, and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action.

The Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs (COPAA) offers a listing of their member departments.

The Prehistoric Society interests are world-wide and extend from the earliest human origins to the emergence of written records. Founded in 1935, we currently have around 1500 members in over 40 countries.

The Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) is the largest scholarly group concerned with the archaeology of the modern world (A.D. 1400-present). The main focus of the society is the era since the beginning of European exploration. SHA promotes scholarly research and the dissemination of knowledge concerning historical archaeology.

The Society for Industrial Archaeology is a nonprofit, international, interdisciplinary organization that brings together people of varied backgrounds who share a common interest in the archeology of industry, engineering, and technology in general.

Beyond Academe seeks to educate historians about their options outside of academe. We think this site can be used by PhDs in other fields but you will find that much of the information we provide is intended specifically for historians.

Regional organizations

Hidden Scholarsis a home for independent scholars in western New England, including western Massachusetts, the Five College region, the Connecticut Valley, Hartford and Brattleboro. Our first goal is to provide social connections. As interest arises, members will be able to pursue professional networking, study partnerships, activism, and more.

The Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA)is the oldest and largest regional association of professional anthropologists in the world today. Founded in 1976, WAPA serves as a resource and a social and career development center for anthropologists seeking to apply their knowledge and skills to practical problems for the betterment of society.

The High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology (HPSfAA)is a nonprofit corporation organized under the Colorado Nonprofit Corporation Act. Its objectives are the social and economic betterment of the ethnically and culturally varied human beings and communities with whom we work, the study and application of principles that explain and improve human relations, and the dissemination of this body of knowledge.

TheEl Paso Archaeological Society is a dynamic organization of approximately 250 avocational and professional archaeologists. We are a nonprofit group dedicated to conservation and preservation of cultural resources. Our activities offer something for almost everyone interested in archaeology - from interesting speakers to hands-on experience.


Libraries and databases

AAA resources

Open Anthropology

The newest publication of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is a digital-only publication that will be provided to the public free of charge. This is the first AAA publication that uses responsive design and is readable on mobile devices, such as iPhones.Each issue will be dedicated to topics of interest to the general public, and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications.

Anthropology News

This AAA periodical features columns of interest to practitioners from several of our sections. The links below connect to our most recent issues:

Section news from the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA)

Anthropology Works - provided by the Committee for Applied, Practicing, and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA)

Opinions by Anthropology in the Public Sector

Anthropology and Archaeology Research Network (AARN)

The Anthropology and Archaeology Research Network (AARN) gives anthropology scholars access to distribute their technical reports, gray literature, preprints, and other scholarly contributions that might not have other outlets to become widely accessible and distributed across disciplines. The goals of the network are to help anthropological ideas and data be widely distributed. You can also utilize AARN to conduct tailored searches to find what you are looking for swiftly without wading through hundreds of unrelated resources that traditional search tools provide. The following links may be of interest to you. AAA is not responsible for and does not endorse these Web sites or the information they provide.


AnthroSourceis a service of the American Anthropological Association that offers members and subscribing libraries full-text anthropological resources from the breadth and depth of the discipline. AnthroSource is:

·a digital searchable database containing the past, present and future AAA publications,
·more than 250,000 articles from AAA journals, newsletters, bulletins and monographs in a single place, and
·24/7 access to scientific research information across the field ofanthropology (PDF document).

JPASS Collection from JSTOR

Current members of the American Anthropological Association are able to purchase 1-year JPASS access plan for $99-a 50% discount on the listed rate. JPASS includes unlimited reading and 120 article downloads to more than 1,500 humanities, social science journals in the JSTOR archival collections. To receive your member-discounted rate, please login here.

Online Research Library

AAA is pleased to offer anthropologists who do not have access to a college or university library a virtual collection, called theOnline Research Library. This database includes more than 5,060 titles -- more than 3,600 in full text.The Online Research Library provides an incredible value for any anthropologist without access to library collections and can help anthropologists at all levels in their careers! Please consider sharing this resource with colleagues outside academia and former students who no longer receive the benefits of institutional affiliation.

Registry of Anthropological Data Wiki

TheRegistry of Anthropological Datais a resource for anthropologists and any other researchers interested in culture, history, language, and human life in general. It represents a wide-ranginglist of fieldnotes, ethnographic source materials, and datain countlessdigital and physical archives, produced by scores of anthropologists over the last century. But the list is by no means comprehensive. 


Additional resources

The American Folklife Center

American Museum of Natural History

The Anthropology Review Database

Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative

ArchNet Virtual Library of Archaeology


eHRAF Archaeology

eHRAF Collection of Ethnography

North Carolina Office of State Archaeology

The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

Southeast Asian Archaeology Scholarly Website

Top 100 Thesis & Dissertation References on the Web

The World Wide Web Library of African ArchaeologyApplied/Practicing Anthropology Links


Training and workshops

Methods Mall
a one-stop shop for NSF-sponsored training opportunities in research methods for cultural anthropologists 

Expeditions, Research in Applied Anthropology
a growing worldwide independent network of scholars in the human sciences, offering anthropological fieldwork and studies.

American Academy in Rome
supports innovative artists, writers and scholars living and working together in a dynamic international community

The Open School of Ethnography and Anthropology Community Institute for Transcultural Exchange
specializes in ethnography, language training, community action research, visual anthropology, tourism & heritage students, and experimental methodologies

The Royal Anthropological Institute
the world's longest-established scholarly association dedicated to the furtherance of anthropology (the study of humankind) in its broadest and most inclusive sense

The National Preservation Institute (NPI)
offers continuing education and professional training for those involved in the management, preservation, and stewardship of cultural heritage



A degree in anthropology can lead practitioners to a wide variety of careers. Asurveyby the American Anthropological Association'sCommittee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropologyfound Master's degree holders in careers ranging from software development to program evaluation to cultural resource management to international development. Visit ourCareers in Anthropologypage for more information on the value anthropologists bring to their workplaces.

You can read about the endeavors of practicing and applied AAA membership in columns such as the currentAnthropology Worksand past issues ofProfiles in Practice.


Guidelines for practitioners

AAA Guidelines for the Evaluation of Ethnographic Visual Media

AAA Guidelines for Evaluating Scholarship in the Realm of Practicing, Applied, and Public Interest Anthropology for Academic Promotion and Tenure

AAA Statement on Ethics: Principles of Professional Responsibility(2012)

For more information on ethics in research please visit ourEthics Resourcespage.



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