Sometimes, in order to see the status quo, it takes a little distance. When MU’s Peace Corps Fellows return to the United States, they bring their global perspectives to the University of Missouri campus in order to open the minds of students, staff, and community members. Nathan Jensen, Jennifer Keller, Amy Bowes, and Andy Craver are among this year’s fellows. Their work in distant countries has changed them, helping them grow. Now they’re sharing their experience and newfound attitudes with MU.
Ever since Enos Inniss came to MU as an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering a short time ago, he has kept remarkably busy on various research projects involving water quality and safety.
Alex Barker wears several different hats in MU’s Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Art and Archaeology. One of these hats involves his research and fieldwork on the European Bronze Age and the ancient American southeast. The other involves the directorship of MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology. Standing at the crossroads of several disciplinary fields, most of Barker’s field research has in recent years dealt with a single broad question: how social complexity grows out of egalitarian societies. His fieldwork in North America and the Old World follows this transition over different periods and regions.
Daily life in the field is always exciting, Elliott reports. Whether a narrow escape from being struck by lightening or evading attack from local wildlife, each day brings a new adventure.
The Peace Corps experience changed all of these fellows. Each of them plans on continuing to partner with people in other countries, although their specific aspirations are quite different. Jensen wants to work in the area of international development, hoping his experience will help him to deploy funding wisely, while Keller plans to earn a degree in policy and get involved with with non-profit organizations. Bowes hopes to gain a position in a foreign embassy, and Craver aims to pursue a PhD in anthropology and conduct field research abroad.
Inniss’ students are regularly involved in his research projects, graduates and undergraduates alike. “They want to see what we’re doing outside of the classroom; they want to see the applications of the stuff that we’re actually teaching them,” he says.
Almost all of Barker’s field research in Romania focuses on a single broad question: how does society go from the sovereign individual to the individual sovereign?
Barker is trying to understand the relationship between that process and the economics underlying those societies, seeking answers to questions about the economic basis of political change, and the development of economic mechanisms like taxation and charity relief, as well as why people would be willing to forsake their rights as autonomous individuals for more autocratic control by some kind of hierarchy. Barker surmises that individuals must have somehow perceived themselves as benefiting from the change.