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Two new books published by WSU Vancouver professors: Authors Hewlett and Latham share real world experience

Books written by two WSU Vancouver professors were published this fall.

Oxford University Press published the work of Bonnie Hewlett, a visiting professor in the WSU Vancouver department of anthropology. Her book, “Listen, Here is a Story: Ethnographic Life Narratives from Aka and Ngandu Women of the Congo Basin” tells of four Aka and Ngandu women.

Claire Latham, WSU Vancouver professor of accounting, co-authored a book, “Computerized Accounting Using Microsoft Dynamics,” published by Armond Dalton Publishers, Inc. Latham’s upper division textbook explains how to gather and evaluate financial information and accurately present it in financial statements.

Both authors were inspired to write because of experiences they had in college.

Listen, Here's a Story

‘Listen, Here is a Story’
Hewlett discovered her interest in anthropology when she returned to college after 10 years working as a registered nurse in newborn intensive care. Following her first anthropology class, she switched her focus to medical anthropology, combining her knowledge in medicine with her new-found passion.

Hewlett read “Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman,” an ethnographic study of a woman who lives in the Dobe region of the Kalahari Desert.

“I fell in love with the book. The author, Marjorie Shostak, went there, talked to Nisa, and lived with the !Kung. It was wonderful. I knew that I wanted to do that.”

For 10 years, Hewlett worked with both Ngandu and Aka adolescents. Aka, a group of pygmy hunter-gatherers, live in association with Ngandu farmers in the Central African Republic. Hewlett studied the health and emotional development of the adolescents and became acquainted with their extended families. One day, the mothers of the Ngandu teens approached her.

“They said, ‘Okay, that’s enough working with our kids. You need to talk to us. We have some things we want to tell you’,” Hewlett said.

The women talked about health issues and spousal abuse.

“One woman had a black eye and a missing tooth,” Hewlett said. “They wanted to ask me what they could do and whether American women have the same issues. They came with health questions as well.” The book evolved from there.

“When the Aka women heard I was going to work with Ngandu women, they said, ‘you have to listen to us, too’,” Hew lett said.

Starting with a group of 16 women, Hewlett narrowed her focus to two Aka women and two Ngandu women.

“Some of the topics were very private. They were more willing to share because they knew I was there, had been there and would come back,” Hewlett said.

The women, especially the older women, were happy about the book and idea that others could learn from their experiences, Hewlett said.

Although Hewlett did not originally write the book specifically for students, she ultimately saw it as an opportunity to teach about anthropology field work.

“I included terms, theory, field notes and what it was like for me as a woman and as an anthropologist to be there,” Hewlett said.
Hewlett said her book may be used to teach developmental psychology, anthropology, globalization and gender studies courses. Hewlett has advice for students who think they may be interested in field research.

“Read as much as you can, talk to the researchers who have been there, look at their research to help you decide what you are most interested in. If you are still passionate about it, then I think it’s great to experience it yourself,” Hewlett said.

Bonnie Hewlett in Central African Republic

WSU professor Hewlett in the
Central African Republic. Photo courtesy of
Bonnie Hewlett.

Hewlett plans to continue teaching at WSU Vancouver and will continue her yearly visits to the Central African Republic to conduct research on adolescent social learning and innovation. She and her husband, Barry Hewlett, professor of anthropology at WSU Vancouver, also travel annually to Ethiopia to conduct research.

“I love anthropology because it gives an opportunity to live with, learn about and learn from amazing people around the world. I love that part.” Hewlett said. “I feel really, really lucky. It is hard work, but I feel I do have the dream job. Working with these people is wonderful.”

Hewlett will use the book in her gender class next semester. It is available at the Bookie or online through Oxford.com or Amazon.com.

“There is so much we can learn from other people about our culture and about ourselves,” Hewlett said. “I hope that is the mindset people have opening this book.”

Computerized Accounting‘Computerized Accounting: Microsoft Dynamics’
Thirty years ago, Claire Latham sat in a college class about financial auditing, listening eagerly as the professor espoused the teaching approach of Al Arens, a professor from Michigan State University and a friend of Latham’s, who believed students need a practical component beyond the textbook.

“I think [having practical experience] contributed to my success in the auditing field before I became a professor,” Latham said.
Latham explained that her friend, Arens, and his colleague, Dewey Ward, started a small company to provide students with an accounting system that looked like what was happening in the real business world. Their product became a best-selling teaching aid, and approximately 12 years ago, their book was expanded to incorporate a computer-based version.

“It was an American small business success story that I just adore,” Latham said.

When Arens passed away last year, the company asked Latham to co-author the book he had been writing.

Claire Latham

Photo courtesy of Laura Evancich, WSU Vancouver Communications

“Thirty years after being enthralled by this professor at Michigan State, I am now a co-author with him. That is a dream come true for me,” Latham said. “I worked on [the book] all summer and so far, it’s been great. The students are working with it and it’s an amazing product that allows them to not only get experience but understand internal control in the company.”

Latham created and developed the chapters, problem sets, questions and solutions found in the book. She said it gives students the chance to practice working with real world examples.

“That’s why I am so excited about it,” she said. “It was a very invigorating experience. It made me think how I would present [the material] in the classroom. By the time our students graduate, they’ve worked with real companies and they’ve gone out evaluating real systems,” Latham said.

Latham remembers what it felt like to start a professional job without real world experience.

“On my first day on the job, someone asked me to find something…[and I thought], ‘I don’t even know what it looks like’,” Latham said.

“These students don’t have to worry about that. I’d say it gives them a leg up, and they’ve told me that. In fact, students come back and say, ‘Oh, I’m so glad that I did that’.”

Latham implemented the three books, case studies, a reference book and software for the first time this semester.

“It has been wonderful. Students received a very good level of knowledge that I was hoping we would achieve. It’s exciting,” Latham said. “It is fun to do some hands-on stuff, some active learning.”

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