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Tim Wallace is an associate professor and applied anthropologist in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. With a focus on the anthropology of tourism, fifteen years ago he directed his first ethnographic field in 1994 in Keszthely, Hungary on the shores of Lake Balaton. Later he moved the program to Quepos, Costa Rica from 1996 to 2001. For the last seven years he has operated the program in communities around Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan Highlands. This year marks his 15th consecutive year leading the NCSU Ethnographic Field School. Dr. Wallace’s research concerns the role of cultural heritage as expressed through cultural tourism as a constant element in identity stability in human societies. Tourism is thought to have a disruptive effect on indigenous identity, but his research contributes to the idea travel and tourism is a constant and should be seen like other normal factors in life as common as religion or politics. His research has taken him to a various overseas sites including Madagascar to do an impact assessment for a Duke University-NCSU eco-tourism project, to Mozambique to study maize marketing, to Ecuador for a potato marketing project, to Togo, West Africa to study economic development policy, to Peru to research community development strategies in Peru and to Hiroshima, Japan to study international education policy. He has also done research in North Carolina on farmers markets in Raleigh, NC, socio-economic responses to pest management practices among tomato and cabbage farmers in North Carolina, and heritage tourism in central North Carolina. He has been President of the Southern Anthropological Association and the Association of North Carolina Anthropologists, is a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and editor of the Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter. He has been awarded two Senior Fulbrights once to Peru and more recently to Guatemala.

  • My Program
  • Advice for Students
  • Advice for Faculty Directors

Where do you lead a program?

Lake Atitlán area of the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The HQ is in the town of Panajachel, but students reside in towns with names like: Santiago, San Marcos La Laguna, Santa Cruz La Laguna, San Pedro, San Juan, San Antonio Palopó, Santa Catarina Palopó and Cerro de Oro.

How long have you run your study abroad program?

Started in 1994, have been doing it ever since. 14 years, 2008 will be 15 consecutive years.

What makes your study abroad program unique?

This program is the longest running ethnographic field school in the university, and is one of the best known around the country. Students live with Mayan families for seven weeks and each student develops their own independent field work project. Some students also do service-learning, community-based, development projects. Ethnographic field work is the hallmark of the discipline of cultural anthropology.

What stands out as your favorite memory from the study abroad programs that you have directed?

Assisting my wife and my colleague, Linda Williams (Social Work) to start her own field school in Guatemala.

If you could give prospective students one piece of advice about
study abroad, what would it be?

Employers and graduate schools see field schools as evidence of maturity and the ability to cope with complex situations. Every student should participate in one.

What are you looking for from the students who apply to your program?

Enthusiastic, dedicated, and committed students who want to learn about other cultures and who live in them.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Faculty Director?

Seeing students overcome the awkwardness of fieldwork and study abroad and become confident, competent, and committed to their studies and seem better prepared for careers and/or graduate school.

If you could give new Faculty Directors of study abroad programs one piece of advice about leading a program, what would it be?

You have to do it at least twice before you get the hang of it, so don’t worry too much if you don’t get it perfect the 1st time.

What marketing tips would you suggest to your fellow Faculty Directors to encourage more NC State students to study abroad?

You have to go to many classes and hold lots of meetings to get students to feel comfortable about the idea of going abroad.