Dr. Cairns teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level on themes of environmental anthropology, human health, human ecology, water, and methods.

Syllabi (subject to change)

Humanity and Global Environmental Change. Undergrad. Fall 2020. Also taught Fall 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Build It, Hack It, Fix It. Fall 2020. Also taught Fall 2019.

Research Methods. Undergrad. Spring 2020. Also taught Spring 2019 and 2018.

Advanced Methods. Grad. Spring 2020. Also taught Fall 2018.

Toxic Topics. Grad. Spring 2018.

Toxic Topics. Undergrad. Spring 2018.

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Undergrad. Fall 2018.


Environmental Justice Resource Guide

The lab has developed a resource guide on anthropology and environmental justice which includes information about teaching resources, syllabi, journal articles and books, podcasts, and leading scholars on environmental justice issues. The Environmental Justice Resource Guide is available here.

Methods and Analysis Guides

Dr. Cairns and the Cairns Lab are dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary and ethnographic research methods. Student collaborators, in the Cairns Lab and Dr. Cairn’s advanced research methods course, have provided the data collection and analysis methods guides below. All guides have been used with student permission and are intended to introduce basic concepts of the data collection or analysis method, and act as a starting point for further in-depth research. Methods and analysis guides contain examples specific to student dissertation research interests, providing unique real-world examples of how the methods and analyses are preformed/applied.

Analysis Guides

KWIC Analysis, by Nusaiba Chowdhury: Originally named by an IBM engineer, keyword in context (KWIC) is an analysis
method that looks at a word and its every utterance in a text to
find out its meaning and usage.

Narrative Analysis, by Brooke Istas: Narratives are stories of individuals or organizations that reveal how they perceive and experience the world. Analysis of narratives are done in three ways: sociolinguistic, hermeneutic, and phenomenology.

Qualitative Text Coding, by Tryna Knox: Text coding focuses on teasing out themes and patterns in text data. This video lays out qualitative text coding in a three step method, including commentary on a grounded theory approach to analysis.

Variable Attribute Analysis, by Richie Thomas: This analysis method breaks down qualitative data into measurable units of analysis. In other words, qualitative variable attribute analysis transforms qualitative data (video, audio, images, text, etc.) into numerical formats that can be statistically analyzed.

Word Clouds, by Meghan Lowrey: This analysis method is a visual representation of qualitative data. Word cloud generators take a set of text and creates an image with highest frequency words appearing large and bold.

Methods Guides

Social Network Analysis by Liz Thomas: Social Network Analysis exists to ask questions about who is connected to who and how that connection affects and shapes behavior. These social networks, which can be viewed from an individual or group perspective, allows researchers to provide thoughtful insights into various aspects of social relations.

Participatory Mapping by Megan Brown: Despite being a crucial tool for information, maps are often encoded and generated through systems of power rather than a representative group of people. Participative mapping provides community members the opportunity to shape and share their own landscapes and geographies, which ultimately allows the co-creation of geographic knowledge.

Cultural Consensus Analysis and Theory by J. Wondrack: Cultural Consensus Analysis is a method used to develop an emic understanding of a cultural domain, which entails how people within a group agree on a cultural domain. This is done through ethnographers asking questions while being unaware of the cultural competence of their informants or how they will respond to such questions.

Oral History by Meghan Alexander Beddingfield: Oral History serves to collect data from undocumented cultures, enhance knowledge from an ordinary person’s perspective, and counter hegemonic and normative cultural narratives through multiple documented planned interviews with individuals.

Focus Groups by Nusaiba Chowdhury: With a storied history of a hundred years oscillating between use in the social sciences and marketing research, focus group use enables researchers to truly learn how specific topics are understood by a specific community or group.

Life Histories by Brooke Istas: Life histories are a qualitative method used for collecting autobiographical stories about a person’s experience. They are an important tool because it is an excellent way for the researcher to live in another person’s shoes and to seek to grasp the same experience as a participant.

Photovoice, by Meghan Lowrey: Photovoice as a methodological approach has only existed for a few decades but it has had a broad influence among researchers seeking to incorporate participants in the research process. It has also been adopted as a process for qualitative data collection in many divergent fields of study.

Qualitative Case Study, by Tryna Knox: The goal of this deep dive on qualitative case study method is to provide readers with an understanding of the method and its’ contribution to research, illustrate current research using this method, describe its’ foundational origins through a look at the historical background and key scholars, and explain general process steps and considerations for undertaking a case study approach to qualitative research.

Transect Walks by Richie Thomas: The transect walk data collection method is interdisciplinary and highly flexible. It has the capacity to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. It can be used to orient the researcher(s) to the field site and to collect detailed information on the local ecology and human interactions with it.

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