Inver Hills Awarded $10,000 MN State Innovation Sustaining Grant

Anthropology Instructor Katie Nelson, PhD, collaborates on biological anthropology textbook

Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson, PhD, anthropology faculty at Inver Hills Community College, worked in partnership with faculty from California State University, the University of Hawaii and Grossmont College to collaboratively author an open-access textbook called EXPLORATIONS: An Open Invitation To Biological  Anthropology.

The project, which was made possible by a Minnesota State Innovation Funding $24,900 Seed Grant, has received a $10,000 Sustaining Grant.

Katie reported that the textbook is a first-of-its-kind innovation for the biological anthropology discipline. The textbook is designed to support student learning in the field.

“The project really took off after the Minnesota State 2018 Shark Tank Open,” she said. “We will use the sustaining funding to create a lab and activities book to accompany the textbook. We have completed some of the labs already and will finish by April, 2021.”

EXPLORATIONS: An Open Invitation To Biological  Anthropology is an edited volume published December 2019 by the American Anthropological Association. Katie’s co-editors are Beth Shook, PhD, Lara Braff, PhD, and Kelsie Aguilera, MA. More than 400 faculty have adopted the textbook, representing thousands of students and many hundreds of dollars in student savings.

Katie has worked on two other OER textbooks: Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, 2nd Edition, and Global Perspectives on Gender, authoring chapters and providing her editing expertise.

Faculty Update: Katie Nelson, PhD

Published on Inver Hills News February 24, 2020

Anthropology instructor featured on ASA Newsletter: Stories of Innovation: The following story was published February 20, 2020, on the ASA Newsletter, Academic & Student Affairs at Minnesota State.
Stories of Innovation: Opening Access to Biological Anthropology

How we created an innovative, high quality, open educational resource

By Katie Nelson, PhD, Inver Hills Community College
Katie Nelson at 2018 Shark Tank Open

On the first day of class, I frequently ask my students to write on a note card how they would define anthropology. The responses are always interesting. Many accurately state that anthropology is the study of what makes us human. Others recognize that anthropology has something to do with bones, or cultures, or artifacts. Invariably, there are always students who have signed up for my anthropology courses who have no clue what they will study.

This isn’t a quip about students’ lack of pre-collegiate exposure to the discipline. It is more than that. It’s a reflection of access and exposure to anthropological knowledge. As is the case with many disciplines, the vast body of anthropological knowledge is trapped behind paywalls, subscription services and publishing houses. This is privileged knowledge, available only to those who can pay for access. Ultimately, these costs function as a significant barrier.


EXPLORATIONS: An Open Invitation To Biological  Anthropology

The first comprehensive, peer-reviewed open access textbook for biological anthropology courses. Produced with support from the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (a section of the American Anthropological Association) and a grant from Minnesota State. Available free of charge for use in any setting.

Book Information

  • ISBN (ebook): 978-1-931303-62-0

  • ISBN (print): 978-1-931303-63-7

  • Bookstore adoptions available via Lightning Source

  • ebook also available HERE

  • Print copies available via Amazon

2020 Open Education Conference presentation

Katie and Martin Springborg, director of teaching and learning at Inver Hills and DCTC, are presenting at the 2020 Open Education Conference [see video below for more information about the virtual conference].

Katie and Martin’s presentation, which is called “Supporting OER Development at the Campus Level,” takes place at 2 p.m. Thursday, November 12, 2020.


In this workshop, Inver Hills Community College faculty and staff will discuss a unique, grant-funded program for faculty support toward the development of an associates of arts z-degree. Presenters will discuss their approach to gathering information about faculty use of OER across courses and programs, and assessing their institution’s readiness to make the college’s most popular degree conform to Minnesota State’s Z-degree definition. Participants will engage in guided exercises throughout the workshop as they evaluate their own college’s readiness to engage and support faculty in the authorship of new OER.

Faculty presenters in this session will share their experience in the authorship of OER, from motivating factors to finding materials, to using the newly created OER within their courses this fall semester.


Associate of Arts (A.A.) with Emphasis, Anthropology – 60 credits

This A.A. with Emphasis program is designed to introduce you to the field of anthropology as a whole. The curriculum will encourage you to find your own anthropological direction while preparing you for a more rigorous future education.

Anthropology is the study of humanity. This comprehensive discipline is divided into four sub-fields, including archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. Connecting these sub-fields is a series of approaches that will inspire you to be comparative in scope, evolutionary in depth and holistic in perspective.

Learn more about Anthropology at Inver Hills by contacting:

Katie Nelson, PhD
Anthropology Faculty

Co-editors Beth Shook and Katie Nelson promoting textbook at American Anthropological Association annual meeting Vancouver November 2019

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