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Social Anthropology

Joe Harrison

My degree in Social Anthropology has been of critical importance not only to how my career has developed, but also how I have developed personally; morally and politically.

Professionally I began as a musician and community music workshop facilitator (partly inspired by my 3rd year dissertation which looked at how Asian Dub Foundation used community arts to undergo social change).

Having done a degree in Social Anthropology I inevitably became more interested in the social and organisational structures surrounding the work.

Now most of my work is in education where I work with teachers and schools to develop the role creativity in learning. For me this is about giving the pupils (and teachers) input into and control over their learning, rather than merely being passive recipients of 'knowledge'.

In this work I continue to use skills learnt during my degree to analyse the often complex social and political contexts surrounding a school.

This work brings me into contact with a very diverse range of people, of all ages and from all parts of the world.

Anthropology helped me to develop a non-judgmental approach to understanding and working with such diversity. It has been very useful to be able to discuss and debate on number of levels appropriate to those involved, be they education professors from Denver or four year olds refugees from Eritrea now living in Manchester.

Equally important, I am aware of what my degree gave me personally. For me the three years were spent challenging from every angle what it meant to want 'equality'; is 'charity' always charitable?; what is 'moral' in such a diverse world? Essentially, for me it provided an opportunity to really interrogate how I believe we should live and act towards people. Consequently I hope it's given me a deep-rooted basis for kindness.