Jason Miller, class of 2002, returns to the College of Arts and Sciences to teach anthropology. Miller, who started out as a theater design major switched his major after taking a course with anthropology Professor Ted Fortier.
Miller earned his master’s in anthropology from Western Washington University where he focused on applied and visual anthropology. He taught at Linn-Benton Community College in Oregon where he also managed the multicultural center. For his doctoral studies, he chose the University of South Florida.
“Cultural anthropology today is a broad field,” he said recently. “I’ve always been particularly drawn to applied anthropology because it is more participatory, particularly applied visual anthropology.”
Miller has worked primarily with Native Americans and migrants from Mexico and Honduras. Using his theater background, he develops visual narratives – video and film – that bring insight into cultural issues through storytelling.
Since the origin of modern photography and film in the late 1800s, media have been used as a research tool. Anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, her husband, pioneered ethnographic research with photography and film as their primary tools. With today’s technology, ethnographic research is more accessible than ever.
“Ethnographic films and images engage students,” Miller said, “and they develop greater understanding and appreciation of diversity.”
Miller provides opportunities for students to create their own films and images.
“It is one thing to see an image or a film in class, but it is another for students to collect and produce media themselves,” he said. “Taking the step from media consumer to producer can be very powerful.”
When students provide visual documentation of their own cultures, Miller finds that they not only learn about the diversity of their classmates, they also see their own cultures in a new way.
The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 42 undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 6 master’s degrees.
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