Outreach and Engagement

The Department of Anthropology is an active community of scholars who work with communities at UConn and beyond. Through faculty-led initiatives and media appearances, we make an impact in Connecticut schools, engage the public in meaningful conversations, and preserve current events for future generations.

Faculty Initiatives

Pandemic Journaling Project

Co-founded by Sarah Willen in 2020, the Pandemic Journaling Project has given ordinary people a place to chronicle and preserve their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In its first phase, the project collected journal entries from more than 1,800 people in 55 countries, leading to a growing list of publications.

The project expanded its mission in 2022, launching the Picturing the Pandemic photo exhibition in Hartford, Connecticut. Since then, iterations of the exhibition have opened in locations across the globe – including Providence, Rhode Island; Heidelberg, Germany; and Mexico City, Mexico – organized in close collaboration with local partners and co-curators.

Transforming K-12 Curricula

Connecticut educators are moving toward a more inclusive presentation and interpretation of history – and turning to UConn professors to help guide the process.

One example is “Liberty and Justice for All: A Read-Aloud Toolkit for Talking about Human Rights and Diversity,” developed by Noga Shemer for Mansfield public schools. The toolkit provides K-4 teachers with a set of books and lesson plans for every month of every grade, focusing on events and holidays informally celebrated in the classroom. The program allows students to explore diverse, historical, and intersectional perspectives as they discuss justice, injustice, and action.

Casa Común/Communal House Exhibition

Professors César Abadia-Barrero and Camilo Ruiz co-directed the creation of Communal House, an art archive and exhibition. The project uses handcrafted work from victims of the armed conflict in Colombia to confront the atrocities of war. More than 50 artists, primarily women, used embroidery, paint, and seeds to tell their stories of survival and their hopes for a beautiful and peaceful future.

The UConn anthropologists and colleagues designed the project, conducted workshops with the victims, and curated an art exhibit for the Universidad de la Amazonia in Florencia, Colombia. They later brought Communal House to the Dodd Center as the featured exhibit of the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute’s 20th anniversary international conference on the UConn Storrs campus.

Media and Public Engagement

Our faculty members make frequent media appearances, where they share their scholarship with the public and add important context to current events. Several of our professors also serve as UConn faculty experts who respond to inquiries from journalists, conference organizers, and more.