Samantha Blatt, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, has been named the 2021 Innovative Educator for Objective 5: Scientific Ways of Knowing by the Idaho State Board of Education.
“This award, more than recognition of me, recognizes the anthropological and liberal arts contribution to and place among the sciences,” Blatt said.
Traditionally, anthropology has not typically been categorized as a science. Blatt spent thousands of hours making changes to her curriculum, working to have anthropology included in the sciences since she began teaching in Idaho.
“Personally, it brings me memories of being an undergrad in this class myself,” said Blatt. She went on to say that the award “encourages me to push even harder for our students to get that same opportunity.”
Blatt reworked Anthropology 2230 and its accompanying lab to fit the general education requirement of Objective 5: Scientific Ways of Knowing. The course is a bit unique when compared to similar classes.
“I work hard to provide equitable opportunities to succeed and that can come in some unusual practices,” explained Blatt. “I don't think exams and papers are the only way to do that so they get to use their backgrounds and interests and personal knowledge when we explore concepts that are otherwise not considered flexible.”
One such “unusual practice” is Blatt’s un-essay. The un-essays allow students to get creative in showcasing what they have learned. Rather than simply spouting memorized facts in written form, students are encouraged to create art projects, videos, or anything else they can imagine.
“ISU students have a genuine desire for education that goes beyond the degree and I have enjoyed their excitement, honesty, humor, and candidness in and out of the classroom,” Blatt said.