Ken Barger
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Indiana University Indianapolis


To give you some context about the focus of the learning materials below, I'd like to share some of my background. I was raised in the South, where I was taught about Freedom and Democracy and that God is Love. I joined the Army and served five years of active duty. I was sent to Vietnam to fight for the American way, and found that everything I was doing went against all the values with which I had been raised. One day, I realized that most of the "enemy" we were trying to kill (and who were trying to kill us) were far more interested in defending their homeland against us Americans who had invaded their homeland than in political ideology... and came to the conclusion that the war was wrong (though I still had to be a part of it - the worst period of my life). This experience had a major impact in my life, and made me a critical thinker... to question, to explore different explanations, and to find out for myself rather than simply accept what I was told. After Vietnam, I left the Army and went back to school, and joined the Vietnam Vets Against the War. With a new outlook on life from my experience in a war, for the first time I saw the institutionalized racism with which I was raised. When the elders in the church I was attending refused to let African Americans attend service, I was so shocked that I never went to church again, and got active in the Civil Rights Movement.

I got my PhD in Anthropology, with graduate minors in Linguistics and Psychology. Anthropology has had a great influence in helping me learn more about the human potentials, and to understand that all the behavior we see around the world, for the better or the worse, is possible within each of us. A primary basis for understanding the human potentials has been the best and worst of whom I could be personally... particularly in Vietnam.

My primary professional focus in Anthropology has been applied social change. In my research and practice, I have sought to understand the forces and processes involved in social change, and to apply these principles to make a positive impact on the adaptation of societies... first and foremost my own society.

When I came to Indiana University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), I searched for social issues in which to use my interests in applied social change. I got involved with the farm labor movement and the injustices experienced by migrant farmworkers. Since most were Mexican immigrants, I also got involved with the immigrant rights movement. I have to say that these experiences helped me learn about applied social change as much as theory and research, because I could test ideas against direct experience and could incorporate new realities into my conceptual models.

I taught at IUPUI for 30 years. It was particularly enjoyable exploring ideas and understandings together with students. I always thought it was a bit unfair that I probably learned more than they did... because students would ask stimulating questions, share varied life experiences and viewpoints, and challenge me to go further in my own learning.

I am now retired, but I always have an interest in working with those who wish to learn together. The following materials were originally put online as a resource for students in my Anthropology classes, and are available to anyone who is interested in learning more about the human experience and in particular about how to learn on your own... because then we can learn anything we need to understand for our whole lives. I hope these materials are useful to you in your efforts to develop more as a human being.

Online Learning Materials

Learning Skills and Abilities: How can we develop our abilities to learn and understand life phenomena... for the rest of our lives?

Anthropology: What ideas and perspectives can help us understand the variations in human behavior and the potentials we all have to experience life?

Social-Behavioral Research Methodology: How can we ensure that our investigations into human natural phenomena are valid and accurate... and that we have controlled for biases?

Other materials from my own experiences that may be of interest to you include:

I hope these materials are useful to you. Feel free to use these materials in your personal research and learning, though I'd appreciate your giving me credit. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring more about the human experience.

  • No personal information is collected on this and related pages. You may use these materials in your own personal research and learning, though I'd appreciate your giving me credit.

    © Dr. Ken Barger, 2014