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Hands-on Anthropology: Goodman Fund Sends Students on Location

Claire Garber Goodman believed that anthropology couldn't be practiced solely in a classroom. And it was that conviction that inspired her husband, Larry Goodman '47, to establish the Claire Garber Goodman Fund in her memory, a gift that directly funds undergraduates pursuing independent projects, usually including fieldwork in the kinds of distant and exotic locales to which Garber Goodman hoped students of anthropology would travel.

Professor John Watanabe and Kathleen Boyne '07
Professor John Watanabe and Kathleen Boyne '07 (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Garber Goodman began pursuing archaeology and anthropology in 1978, earning a master's degree from New York University. "At that time, it was not easy for women to be viewed as serious scholars," recalls her husband. Yet a serious scholar is just what she became, despite having been diagnosed with a terminal illness just as she was preparing to launch her career. Her master's thesis on copper artifacts in the Native American Mississippian period was published posthumously in 1983. It remains in print today.

Garber Goodman felt a strong affinity for her husband's alma mater. Two of their children also attended the College. "She loved Dartmouth, and she wanted to do something for American education," says Goodman.

From that wish was born the Goodman Fund, which has, in the 27 years since it was established, grown to more than $1 million. Students are eligible to receive up to $3,500 to support their research.

Among the current Goodman Fund recipients is Kathleen Boyne '07. Her research project, "Cultural Factors Influencing High Childhood Obesity Rates in Chicago," took her to that city to observe weight management programs aimed at poor children. She then considered how cultural factors combine to affect childhood obesity. Boyne thanks her advisor, Associate Professor of Anthropology John Watanabe, for guidance on the project. "Professor Watanabe knew I was interested in medical anthropology and that I wanted to focus on something in that area. He helped me narrow my focus and apply for funding."

Grant recipients have used the funding to travel all over the world, says Watanabe, recalling a student who lived in a shanty town in Guatemala City, and another who went to Caracas, Venezuela, to study urban witchcraft and magical healing practices. "I had one student who went to Cuba to work with jazz musicians," says Watanabe, who is currently advising both Boyne and Karen Jorge '07 on her project, "The Experiences of Women Living with HIV in Rural Vermont and New Hampshire."

"The Goodman Fund encourages students to do something a bit more adventuresome," says Watanabe. "I think those who have had the experience of doing research and getting a Goodman grant are much better prepared for graduate school."

Robert Welsch, a visiting professor in anthropology says that applying for the grant, conducting the fieldwork, and presenting the findings is rigorous and time-consuming. "It's a full-body training experience," he says.

By GENEVIEVE HAAS

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Last Updated: 5/30/08