So You Want to Save the World: The Anthropology of Global “Giving Back”

Many of us are motivated by the desire to “give back”–to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and help those less fortunate than ourselves. Anthropological research on humanitarian aid, development projects, and other interventions meant to improve human lives in various contexts can show us why these efforts often go awry.

Focusing primarily on settings outside the U.S., students in a Fall 2017 first-year seminar course at Lehigh University considered humanitarianism’s pitfalls as well as the crucial role of culture and local knowledge in solving complex global problems. Together we read a lot, watched some films and videos, and had a great many discussions. Then we created these blog posts to communicate some of the most important lessons learned.

Click on the post titles below to explore some of our explorations of, and conclusions about, efforts to “save the world.”

The Anthropology of Global "Giving Back"

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