CIFAS Field School
on Ethnographic Research Methods

About Us

The Field School is suitable for graduate and undergraduate students in social sciences and other fields of study that use qualitative approaches (such as education, communication, cultural studies, health, social work, human ecology, development studies, and consumer behavior, among others), applied social scientists, professionals, and researchers who have an interest in learning more about ethnographic methods and their applications. The faculty works closely with participants to identify the required field methods to address their academic or professional needs.

The goal of the Field School is to enable participants to confidently engage in ethnographic research with solid training in the foundations of the method, informed by a creative spirit and guided by the highest ethical standards.

We work passionately to advance education and dialogue around ethnographic methods and applied anthropology in general in ways that promote intercultural understanding, justice, and peace.


Dates for 2024:

On-site in New York City: full; no seats available.

Online: accepting applications. Classes will meet on August 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29, and September 3, 5, 10, and 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EDT time.

The course load is 30 hours.

CIFAS is a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation founded by Columbia University faculty. The summer school is not an official Columbia University course. The transcript will not be issued by Columbia University but by CIFAS instead. Credits are not assigned.


Class 1
Warm up. Introduction. Foundations of ethnographic research.
Class 2
Theory and practice: social theories in the field.
Field Practice #1: Observation
Class 3
Research design: traditional approaches.
Field Practice #2: Observation
Class 4
Data generation techniques. Planning the logistics of field research.
Field Practice #3: Notetaking
Class 5
Feminist, multi-species, and decolonial perspectives.
Field Practice #4: Notetaking: discussion about the establishment of raport.
Class 6
Risk in fieldwork. Sexual harassment and other forms of violence.

Ethnography in specific fields of activity (applied social sciences, health, social service, environmental studies, public policy design, business, the arts and others).

Action research, multimodal research, and co-production.
Co-production Practice
Class 7
Digital ethnography; Ethnography in interface with Social Network Analysis and other trends in the field of the digital humanities
Classroom Practice: Organization of field notes and other forms of data
Class 8
Principles of organization and indexation of field data
Classroom practice: indexation of field notes and other forms of data
Class 9
Analyzing field data; qualitative analysis software packages: basic principles

Visual ethnography
Classroom practice: analysis of field notes and other forms of data
Class 10
Wrap-up session. Discussion of individual projects.


Places are limited. The tuition is US$1,200. Travel, local transportation, accommodation, and meals are not covered by the tuition fee. Comitas Field School Fellowship: A limited number of fellowships are available for students from underrepresented minorities and low-income countries. You can find more information on the How to Apply page.

Field Trips

Field trip (on-site edition only):  Thunderbirds’ 45th Annual Grand Mid-Summer Powwow, Queens Farm Museum.

Students will conduct voluntary individual research projects during the summer school activities. Students will select a research topic of interest related to a social/cultural activity in New York City in the on-site edition of the course or in their place of residence for the online version and dedicate part of their afternoons to ethnographic practice (observation, note-taking, establishment of rapport, participant observation).

How to Apply