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March 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

Summer Courses | Anthropology Fieldwork in Familiar Places

By Ellie Koewler ’15

This summer, three courses provide Anthropology fieldwork, hands-on experiences in research methods, and a pathway to undergraduate research projects and internships.

The “Fieldwork in Familiar Places” package is designed to provide students with 14 credit hours through three project-based methods courses in all Anthropology subfields: cultural, biological, and archaeological. Students also can opt to take courses separately if they are not able to participate in all. Methodology can be applied across disciplines to strengthen research projects and enhance holistic understanding of human behavior and history.

  • Field School in Ohio Archaeology (ANTH 4911) for 8 credit hours over both summer sessions
  • Life History: The Individual and Culture (ANTH 3940) offered May 11-29
  • Field School in Biological Anthropology (ANTH 4942) offered June 8-27

Field School in Ohio Archaeology

Anthropology fieldwork

Anthropology fieldwork

In the warm summer mornings, students can discover the prehistoric past of the Hocking Valley with Dr. Paul Patton, Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Field school is 8 credit hours over both summer sessions. Students will spend time excavating a nearby Native American habitation site ca. 5000 years ago. They will learn anthropology fieldwork methods, analyze artifacts, and explore diet and domestic life.

Life History: The Individual and Culture

In the afternoon from May 11-29, students can take a cultural anthropology methods course taught by Dr. Diane Ciekawy, Associate Professor of Anthropology. Training in life history methods allows students to do narrative analysis through training in qualitative research methods. The Life History course highlights the importance of storytelling, oral histories, and ethnographic interviews in fieldwork. Stories in the field often form the basis for understanding life experiences and shed light on the larger historical, political, and economic processes. The course is a seminar format based in discussion of required readings. Students have the opportunity to learn about and practice life history methods in class before conducting their own life history project.

Field School in Biological Anthropology

Afternoons from June 8-27, Dr. Nancy Tatarek, Professor of Anthropology, teaches the Field School in Biological Anthropology, focusing on methods of examining health and demography questions. The course topic stems from Tatarek’s collaborative project with Patton and undergraduate students in the Appalachian Population History Project. The course provides a problem-based learning experience where students engage with primary source data and skeletal materials to answers questions surrounding health in the past. The class takes place both in the biological anthropology lab as well as several archives and field sites in the region. Field sites teach students how to properly survey and document cemeteries in order to examine questions of mortality and morbidity. Other topics explored include record searching and record matching, collecting and processing historical demographic data, the human skeletal system, and skeletal analysis techniques at the individual and population level.

Why Anthropology Fieldwork?

“I think project-based learning engages students at a different level than lecture-type learning.” explains Tatarek. “Choosing a project they are interested in and investigating that project makes learning more than a chore. It becomes a passionate endeavor that will hopefully stay with someone for a lifetime.”

With this cluster of course offerings, linkages in methods and techniques are found among all three subfields of anthropology, as well as across other disciplines. In several cases, hands-on courses have led to independent research projects and professional development opportunities. Students from the field school have gone on to present at conferences and write theses. Experiences in Life History and Appalachian Population History Project have generated interest in internships, externships, and graduate school.

Other Anthropology courses offered this summer include:

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (ANTH1010)
  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology (ANTH2010)
  • Anthropology of Violence and Peace (ANTH3530)

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