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cultural element of an ethnic/national group

GLST 0201 // Common Research ProjectOverview and Length
Every student in Global Awareness should complete a 6-8 page research project discussing a
cultural element of an ethnic/national group. If you elect to write on an ethnic/national group
from your ‘current events’ state you cannot discuss the same material addressed in the Gannon
& Pillai text.
Deadline: Submit your paper via the Final Assignment Dropbox in Blackboard by NOON
Friday, August 5th.
Why do I have to do this in GLST 0201 courses?
This assignment helps students develop an understanding of a people or a society through the
close analysis of a particular artifact, institution, or custom. It is an assignment that is present in
all GLST 0201 courses.
Where can I find resources for this paper? What is the scope of the
An excellent resource for this project is the library’s eHRAF Collection of Ethnography, a crosscultural
database containing more than 350,000 pages of comparative data on human cultures
from all over the world. The link to this can be found at the Olin Library webpage. To access
eHRAF, access “Direct Links” from the Libray home page, select “A-Z Databases,” and navigate
to the eHRAF collection. (note: eHRAF generally requires a tutorial to use effectively. Students
will not be able to find information based on national country designation, but will need to
know the names of ethnic groups. Reference librarians excel at assisting students in these
explorations. A final note should caution that this collection has accumulated over the course of
100 years: language and “objectivity” within the eHRAF documents should always be
approached critically.)
Two general principles may help to provide guidance on the structure of student assignments
dealing with culture:
a) time: avoid trying to encompass centuries of history in their study of Iraq. Mesopotamian
culture began between the Tigres and Euphrates 3500 years BC, and continues to present day
occupied Baghdad. Students need to delineate the time period they plan to study with some
care, and
b) students often make the mistake of composing papers on nation-states rather than cultures.
To study Nigeria, for example, often yields shallow student reports that concentrate on “gross
per capita income” and “major exports.” Rather a paper investigating Nigeria might focus on
traits found in the Igbo populace.
The assigned common assessment paper requires students to differentiate nation-state and
ethnic group. While Germany may be full of Germans, not everyone in Saudi Arabia is a
Most nations in the world are characterized by massive ethnic and cultural diversity. Helping
students to see this problem of studying culture as they design their research both improves
their comprehension of the dynamic aspects of culture

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