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Skype Connects Students with Author

November 20, 2018

First-year students in Maureen Barry’s Critical Reading and Writing Learning Community had the opportunity to skype with the author of an ethnographic study about homelessness in America.

H. Luke Shaefer

The course, which is coupled with Anthropology in Action, is focused on culture, history, and power. In class, students read three ethnographies, including $2 A Day, Living on Almost Nothing in America, which explores issues of income inequality while chronicling life for families across the country who live in extreme poverty.

Before the semester began, Barry wrote to the authors to see if they would be willing to chat with her students. H. Luke Shaefer, who co-wrote the book with Dr. Kathryn J. Edin, agreed to a Skype conversation. An associate professor in the School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and director of poverty solutions at the University of Michigan, Shaefer is a prolific voice in poverty and social welfare research.

During the hour-long Skype session, students had the opportunity to ask Shaefer about his writing process and learn more details about the individuals profiled in the book.

“Skyping with the author made the book come alive for the students,” Barry said. “They learned that writers struggle when writing and have to do numerous outlines and rewrites before their work gets to the final product. They also learned how much he cared about this topic, which led him and Dr. Edin to write a book that the public could read to see how people live on $2 a day.”