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 Department of Anthropology

Caribbean Ethnography


Community Development

Field School

May 12 to June 15, 2008 (10 to 12 credit hours)


 See the application check list below.

The Caribbean Ethnography & Community Development Summer Field School is a unique service-learning and international studies opportunity. The program uses ethnographic methods to identify, initiate and assess small-scale community development projects in St. David Parish in the Commonwealth of Dominica.  Students work in collaboration with the local Village Council and the Dominica Ministry of Community Development & Gender Affairs.  These projects take place within the context of a 14 year longitudinal ethnographic study of St. David Parish conducted by Dr. Robert Quinlan and Dr. Marsha Quinlan. 

Our summer field school combines ethnography and applied anthropology in a rural Caribbean village.  Students learn the process and methods of ethnography while working with local residents on small-scale community development projects.   The projects are explicitly collaborative, with students and faculty working in conjunction with Village Council representatives to design and conduct projects that meet community needs.  There are three goals: (1) We will use field school funds, initiative and energy to address critical needs in a poor, rural village. (2) Students will learn how to do anthropological research focused on community development issues. (3)  Because the field school location is the site of ongoing longitudinal anthropological research, students have an opportunity to contribute real data. Students will learn the process of ethnographic fieldwork and develop an understanding of public anthropology, and the mechanics of applied community development projects in a rural community in a developing nation.  Students will gain an appreciation of collaborative research.  Students are introduced to the culture, social organization, and economics of an impoverished rural Caribbean community.

The curriculum eases students into the fieldwork experience with initial classroom instruction in Pullman, Washington for one week, followed by a structured orientation week in the field in St. David Parish. Ultimately students progress to total (but supervised) emersion in rural Dominican Kweyol culture for several more weeks.  The experience is designed for M.A. level graduate students or advanced undergraduates (junior and senior) in anthropology or related disciplines. 

The site is located in the mountainous Atlantic coast of Dominica.  The economy of the community is based on small-scale farming including traditional subsistence horticulture.  Most of the village is accessible by rough foot paths and fieldwork there requires a moderate level of physical fitness.  Read more about the field site here.

Potential community development projects:

In addition to community development work, there is plenty of time and energy to explore traditional anthropological topics.

Other potential research topics:                                                           

The CECD Field School offers these features:


Dr. Robert Quinlan  specializes in behavioral ecology; kinship & family; demography; ethnomusicology; and ethnographic methods.

Dr. Marsha Quinlan specializes in culture health & illness; ethnobotany; applied anthropology; and ethnographic methods.

Dr. Mike Alvard  specializes in behavioral ecology; cooperation; subsistence; conservation and ethnographic methods.

Local instructor:

Mr. Juranie Durand specializes in tropical farming and is interested in traditional herbal medicine.

Photos left to right: Juranie, Marsha, Rob & Mike


Logistics coordinator/Ethnography Instructor:Shane

Mr. Shane Macfarlan (photo right) specializes in behavioral ecology,  cooperation, and economic anthropology.  

Historical Archaeology Instructor:

Ms. Diane Wallman specializes in historical archaeology, zooarachaeology.    

ADMISSION: The field school is limited to twelve students and admission is competitive.  Students should submit application materials including a resume (including phone# and email address), a list of anthropology courses completed (and/or related courses such as International Development), a cover letter describing their interests as they relate to the field school, and the names and contact information for two academic references.  Enquiries should be submitted via email to Dr. Robert Quinlan (rquinlan@wsu.edu).   Drs. Quinlan may request interviews with applicants. Applicants from outside the Pullman, Washington area may be interviewed by phone. Selected students will be invited to enroll through WSU and further instructions will be given upon acceptance.

COST: Approximately $3350 to $4000 (based on current tuition and fees) includes tuition for 10 to 12 semester credit hours, meals, and housing.  Travel to Dominica including airfare and en route lodging is not included (costs estimated at about $1000).  The total cost to students including tuition, airfare, books, passport etc. is approximately $4500 to $5500. (Costs may vary subject to tuition, fee, and airfare increases.) A large portion of tuition goes toward living expenses and financing community development projects. Students must enroll for a minimum of 10 credit hours. Two additional credit hours can be granted for students who complete a written report in addition to local project development.


 Application check list:


 Please submit these materials:

 1. Resume with contact information

 2. List of completed anthropology courses and/or related courses

 3. Names and contact information for two academic references (do not request letters from your references)

 4. Cover letter describing your interests and goals as they related to the CECD Field School (1 to 2 single-spaced pages should be sufficient)

 5. Application form for WSU Education Abroad program.

Application forms are submitted through WSU Education Abroad program. Other materials (letter of interest, resume etc.) go directly to Dr. Quinlan (rquinlan@wsu.edu). Contact Dr. R. Quinlan for more details.

Learn more about Dominica in the World Fact Book.