For a greater understanding of the encultured brain and body…

Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This?

Posted by dlende on May 9, 2008

My Notre Dame students are great! All eight of their group posts are now up. I am so proud of them and the effort that they put into this project.

Already their posts have been read more than 1400 times, and been linked to from sites like Mind Hacks and Sharp Brains and promoted at and Stumble Upon. I hope to see much more as the word continues to gets out.

The eight posts came out of my class on “Alcohol and Drugs: The Anthropology of Substance Use and Abuse,” and represent the range of perspectives brought to bear on substance use over the course of the semester. Though I guided each group through multiple revisions, each post represents an argument that the students developed on a particular topic.

I started the series off with Stress and Addiction: The Vicious Cycle, which showed how stress and substance use go hand in hand, reinforcing a cycle of addiction.

Next was The Problem of Post-Conventional Outlaws, which examined how the US Drug War is increasingly at odds with our modern sensibilities of self.

The Genetic and Environmental Bases of Addiction was the third post in the series, an essay that took on both nature and nurture and won!

Fourth came Inequality and Drug Use, providing a clear demonstration on how social status and marginalization feed into worse drug use and even worse outcomes.

The other middle child was Understanding Brain Imaging, a comprehensive presentation of the different imaging technologies used to understand addiction and other mental health problems. Well worth a look!

It’s Our Fault: Denial, Disease and Addiction showed how the social roots of denial and misperceptions about what counts as a disease make for a double whammy against people struggling with alcohol and drug use.

The seventh post was Culture and Learning to Drink: What Age? This one covered debates about the legal drinking age in the United States, with an even-handed consideration of the costs involved and the varied ways we might think more creatively about how better to learn to drink.

Last but most certainly not least, College Drinking: Battle of the Sexes? examined how central gender is to the drinking culture on US college campus, in particular to understanding and doing something about binge drinking.

A great mix of essays! Please enjoy them.

-Daniel Lende

5 Responses to “Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This?”

  1. [...] Daniel Lende and Greg Downey run the though-provoking Neuroanthropology blog. Daniel also teaches a class at University of Notre Dame, and he asked his students to submit group-based blog posts in lieu of the traditional final essays. He explains more on Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This?. [...]

  2. [...] Another option is to have more formal posts done by students, who develop original posts for a public blog (namely this one!). In my class on addiction, groups of students worked on creating some very successful posts on topics ranging from brain imaging to post-conventional outlaws (see them all described here). [...]

  3. [...] and Drugs class got into the blogging game this month, producing eight posts that are summarized in Why Write a Final Essay When We Can Do This. The students covered denial, stress, inequality, college drinking, US drug war, age limits on [...]

  4. [...] see all of last’s years posts, check out Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This? Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Subjectivity and Addiction: Moving Beyond Just the [...]

  5. [...] These nine posts join the eight from last year, which went from understanding brain imaging to the differences between men and women drinking on campus – those were rounded up in Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This? [...]

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