I was originally going to title this post #OA & @SACC : HELLZ YES, but I was afraid that would be too hard to understand. But what isn’t too hard to understand is the bang-up job that the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges is doing to advance open access in anthropology. First, they create Flip The Portfolio, a website asking the AAA to develop a five year plan to go open access. And second, they are getting ready to drop the first (afaik) open access intro anthropology textbook at the end of the month. Bam.
Regarding Flip The Portfolio, I am glad to see someone continuing to pressure the AAA about this since, to be frank, I’ve sort of given up. I feel like real change is going to come outside of the AAA from institutions like HAU, Cultural Anthropology, Libraria, and other great OA anthropology efforts — the list is getting longer and longer everyday. To be frank, I think if someone handed the AAA an open access business plan, they would seriously think about it. But these days I feel like SACC has more mojo than the AAA in this department. At any rate, I’m glad to see SACC get on board with this initiative. Their project has already attracted attention and deserves even more than its already gotten.
Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, their forthcoming textbook, on the other hand, blows me away 110%. This is a piece of the OA puzzle that is sorely needed. I know that the people at SACC have been working on it for years, and the table of contents looks great. I can’t wait to teach using this textbook. Not only will it be useful to teachers like me, it will also be something that anyone interested in learning about anthropology can read — all they need to do is click ‘download’. Big thumbs up on this one.
Beyond how awesome these two projects are, what I love most about them is that they are coming from people teaching in community colleges. Back in the day when tenure track jobs hung heavy on the boughs of academe like ripe, tender peaches, if someone was teaching at a community college they had either gone full out Jaime Escalante (in which case: props) or else had suffered a head injury doing field work and maybe their committee expected less of them now. Maybe it was just my top-shelf department, but I think there was a certain amount of pearl clutching that occurred when people mentioned community colleges.
Thank god those days are long gone. Who today can doubt that community colleges are the places where great teachers dig deep give students the opportunities and education that they deserve? In a world of constricted funding for higher education, community colleges are not the distaff cousins of the Ivy League, they are modeling what higher education in the future might look like: teaching-focused and values-driven. And with the arrival of these new initiatives from SACC, anthropologists in community colleges are leading the way not just with teaching, but in publication and politics as well. So yeah: #OA & @SACC: HELLZ YES.