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Ethnographic Fieldwork


East Baltimore
1st term
Health Behavior and Society
3 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Hybrid In-person and Asynchronous Online
Class Times:
  • M W,  1:30 - 2:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Jill Owczarzak



Introduces students to ethnography as a method of qualitative research (fieldwork) and a product of this research (written accounts and monographs). Introduces skills and data collection methods fundamental to ethnographic fieldwork, particularly immersion, participant observation, writing field notes, and listening. Discusses what constitutes “the field” in ethnographic fieldwork, the holistic perspective, and “thick description.” Explores key theoretical and methodological issues in contemporary ethnographic fieldwork such as ethics, positionality, reflexivity, and power. Emphasizes the role of ethnographic research in public health. Prepares students to critically assess ethnographic writing. Combines lecture, discussion, and practical skill development.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss some of the major concepts and theoretical developments that have shaped ethnographic inquiry from the mid-20th century to the present
  2. Formulate research questions that probe the connections between the public's health and the social worlds in which individuals and institutions are situated
  3. Use multiple methods for the collection and interpretation of ethnographic data
  4. Critically read and evaluate ethnographic texts
  5. Distinguish ethnographic fieldwork from other forms of qualitative inquiry
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 25% Participation
  • 10% Presentation(s)
  • 65% Written Assignment(s)

Instructor Consent:

No consent required