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The Florence Ethnographic Field School is a special kind of study abroad program for students interested in gaining fieldwork experience in a multicultural, European urban center. Ethnographic research (aka “fieldwork”) is qualitative research based on participant-observation within a community. It is a fundamental method of social research, and is central to both anthropology and sociology. Historically, anthropology has been concerned with foreign societies, while sociology focused on urban life; the Florence Ethnographic Field School brings these traditions together by offering an ethnographic fieldwork experience in the heart of one of the world’s archetypal cities.
The Summer 2019 session met onsite from July 1-29, with two online class meetings before departure. The course was worth 3 credits, Undergraduate or Graduate, in Anthropology (ANTY391/595 Urban Ethnographic Methods), with a transcript issued by the University of Montana. The program is structured around carrying out an ethnographic research project over the course of the month: students learned about research design; collecting data through field notes, participant-observation, and interviews; different forms of qualitative data analysis; and various approaches to writing up the results.
We read a combination of instructive texts on research methods, and historic and contemporary examples of ethnographic writing, with a focus on recent work done in Italy. At every step, the professor was sharing his own experiences and materials from over a decade of sustained urban research in Florence. The July 2019 Syllabus has all of the details about class meetings, assignments, and readings.
This is a rare opportunity to work directly with an experienced ethnographer who has been living in Italy and conducting research there continuously for over ten years, unlike other professors who can only lead trips to the field during the summer.