CfP for SfAA 2022: The Transformative Potential of Teaching the Commons

Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting
Salt Lake City, March 22-26th (virtual participation is possible)

We (Jessie Fly, Eckerd College and Jess Ham, Oxford College at Emory) are hoping to assemble a panel on teaching the commons for the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting to be held in Salt Lake City March 22-26th (description below). We will approach the subject from the perspective of the undergraduate classroom but are open to examples from any level of education. In an effort to encourage an interactive panel, we envision having five 5-10 minute presentations, each of which will end with a question for discussion.

If interested, please email us at and with a brief description of your ideas by 22 October 2021. We look forward to hearing from you!

Panel abstract

From injunctions to share and cooperate in preschool to extreme resistance to group projects, a narrow view of education as a zero-sum pathway to wealth has emerged and aggregates in higher education. Along the way, we have lost our way in accepting responsibility for the other members of our planet, both now and in the future, and perpetuate a misunderstanding of what it means to sacrifice for the good of all. And perhaps most damaging, this vision of what education serves, rather than what education can help us envision, has cultivated a self-serving resistance to imagining sociopolitical organization outside of the status quo. We believe this is a powerful point of engagement for the “revolutionary potential of the social sciences,” specifically anthropologists, human geographers, political ecologists and kindred social scientists putting theory into practice in the classroom. Serge Latouche calls on us to “decolonize imaginaries” and one powerful way to do this is to teach “the commons” or “commoning.” As well-studied by the social science community, the commons invites us to (re)-consider how we meet needs through resource production and consumption while simultaneously caring for human and non-human kin. This panel will bring together teachers from around the world to share and discuss strategies for helping students reimagine their interactions with their worlds by helping them tone the muscle of reimagination in the collective space of a classroom.

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