About me

My name is Anke Schwittay. I teach Global Development and Anthropology at the University of Sussex in the UK. I live in the historic town of Lewes, best known for its annual completely-over-the-top bonfire celebrations (well, not in 2020) and for the fact that Thomas Paine lived here in the 1770s, writing a pamphlet condemning corruption among civil servants. Before coming to the UK, I traveled the world, a passion fuelled by having grown up behind the iron curtain in East Germany in the 70s and 80s. I discovered anthropology and Latin America while spending a year driving from Montreal to Tierra del Fuego.

I began teaching as a PhD teaching assistant at UC Berkeley. After I graduated, my approach to teaching that has now become my book’s critical-creative pedagogy began to take shape, originally more by necessity than choice (I had two small children and faced an impossible academic job market in the US). As a co-founder of a small research group bringing design and anthropology to Silicon Valley organizations using technology for development I co-designed and delivered interactive workshops to diverse groups including technology company CEOs, social entrepreneurs and World Bank officials. At Berkeley, I was part of a teaching team for a course on social entrepreneurship, technology and development for students at the School of Information, whom we placed with local organizations for a practical introduction to social entrepreneurship.

During a summer contract at a semi-rural community college, I taught the fundamentals of anthropological theory to students who were often the first in their families to go to college and challenged me to find accessible and creative ways of conveying complex concepts. Last but not least, a term teaching at the Presidio Graduate School, a sustainability-focused business school in San Francisco, introduced me to project-based teaching. Then followed 5 years teaching development studies at the University of Auckland in beautiful New Zealand, before coming back to Europe in 2014 (well, unfortunately not quite Europe anymore).

My forthcoming book Creative Universities: Reimagining education in an age of global challenges, to be published by Bristol University Press in September 2021, is built around many of the ideas and practices I developed during those 20+ years of teaching. I hope you enjoy reading about my writing journey. Please get in touch if you have questions or comments!