American Association of Physical Anthropologists Responds to Florida Governor Scott

The following is the text of the letter being sent by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists to Florida Governor Scott in response to his statements that Florida does not need more anthropologists.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Governor Scott,
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott:

I am writing in response to the comments you made on October 10, 2011 about Florida not needing “a lot more anthropologists”. In your statement you note that you “… want to spend our money getting people science, technology, engineering and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all of their time and attention on: Those type of degrees that when they get out of school, they can get a job.”

In this statement it is very clear that you are unaware of the great job potential anthropology graduates have. Anthropologists hold jobs in the National Institutes of Health, in the Centers for Disease Control, in many museums, in forensic centers of police departments, in zoological institutions, hospitals, in private and public health laboratories, etc. The list is so long because an anthropology degree provides its graduates with a broad background applicable to many areas.

Your statement also indicates that you think that anthropology is not part of science. This could not be farther from the truth. For example, one of the 2011 recipients of The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Program is an anthropologist. President Barack Obama named Dr. Claudia R. Valeggia, as one of 94 recipients of the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Dr. Valeggia would not be receiving this award if she were not doing science.

A degree in anthropology is becoming more and more popular as a pre-med course of study by many undergraduate students. An anthropology degree prepares pre-medical school students with the right amount of natural and social science so that they may become compassionate and effective doctors.

Ultimately, job creation and economic growth is not possible without education. The impact departments of anthropology have had on the Florida economy is beyond dollars and cents.

Wishing you the best,

Lorena Madrigal, PhD.
President, AAPA.
Professor. Department of Anthropology.
University of South Florida. Tampa, FL. 33620.

For more information on the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), including information on Dr. Claudia R. Valeggia’s award, please see the AAPA website.

The AAPA also stresses how anthropology is science: “Physical anthropology is a biological science that deals with the adaptations, variability, and evolution of human beings and their living and fossil relatives. Because it studies human biology in the context of human culture and behavior, physical anthropology is also a social science.”

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