Tag: archaeology

Applied Archaeology and Museums – The Course.

treetangle2aThis past semester I was the instructor for my favorite course – Applied Archaeology and Museums – a joint undergraduate and graduate class that usually enrolls 15-20 students. I developed the course a few years ago as pretty much an amalgam of what I enjoy and am most passionate about in archaeology – community engagement and empowerment through cultural heritage studies.

There are no in-class exams. Instead, students complete a series of essays, reading journals and projects where they directly apply the course content to real-time situations.

For example, students write a brief essay on repatriation, as applied to the Elgin Marbles. In the past I used a brief article by Jarrett Lobell from the 2006 edited volume Archaeological Ethics. Now as the lead resource I use the Wikipedia article on the Elgin Marbles, a 5000-word piece based on over 70 references. I am not aware of a more up-to-date and comprehensive starting point for the single class Elgin Marble repatriation discussion. Using the Wikipedia page also allows for students to assess the worth of user-generated content.  I emphasize that there is not a right or wrong position on repatriating the Elgin Marbles. I enjoy that depending on the class composition of Anthropology, History, and Art History majors, the discussion is quite varied. Occurring within the first two weeks of the course, I intend for this discussion to set a tone for the diversity of possibilities throughout the semester.

Forty percent of the course grade is from the final project that students complete for the class. I offer several possibilities and past projects to help stimulate the students thinking. The criteria for the final project includes that it must be broadly based in archaeology or cultural heritage studies and must ultimately live in area museum.  The projects were particularly successful this past semester.  I will post some of them here over the next few weeks.

For the final essay students respond to the following questions:

  • What is the social utility of archaeology?
  • Does Archaeology have a viable utility for people beyond other archaeologists?
  • What is the most significant insight you obtained from the course? Explain.

My reason for asking this line of questioning flows from my first field school experience nearly 30 years ago. The instructor, the late Dr. Patricia Essenpreis said something like “If you cannot explain to the public why their tax dollars should go to support keeping this site open to the public, you might as well go home.” I pondered that mandate for many years. Quite honestly, I don’t think I was ever able to adequately respond until I worked in applied archaeology contexts where community members were creating exhibits around their own cultural heritage. I believe that it is critically important that our students be able to show that archaeology is relevant, not just in the classroom, but when they leave as well.

Finally, the two wordles below are from spontaneous/unannounced two-minute trait list exercises for the term “applied archaeology” students completed on the first and the last day of class.  I am not completely comfortable with the shift over the course of the semester.  I appreciate that “excavation” is not the predominant associated term at the end of the semester as in the beginning.  On the other hand, I am surprised that the concept of fieldwork is nearly absent in the final list.  I am pleased that by the end of the semester students appreciate that applied archaeology is a discipline that is not performed for but rather with the community.


applied archaeology





Some Museum and Archaeology Career Resources

At the recent Society for American Archaeology Meeting in Austin Texas, I participated in a speed mentoring session sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology.  My assigned focus was on Archaeology and Museums. I prepared a brief handout of resources for careers.  Below is a slightly expanded version of the handout.

Resources for Careers in Archaeology and Museums


Books on Career Development

  • The Anthropology Graduate’s Guide: From Student to a Careerby Carol J. Ellick, Joe E Watkins, 2011, Left Coast Press (Here is my review).  I routinely recommend this volume as the primary resource for developing a career in the social sciences.  I know of no better single resource.  If one follows the step-by-step guidance in this volume, they will maximize their potential for employment upon graduation.  
  •  A Life in Museums: Managing Your Museum Career edited by Greg Stevens and Wendy Luke, 2013, American Alliance of Museums.  This volume covers many of the same topics as Elick/Watkins volume but with a very specific focus on Museum Careers.

Museum Journals of Interest

There are a plethora of peer-reviewed journals in the field of Museum Studies.  Below is just a very small handful of those that include discussions at the intersection of museums and applied archaeology.

  • Museum Anthropology – American Anthropological Association
  • Museums and Social Issues – Maney Press
  • Journal of Museum Education – Maney Press
  • Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage – Maney Press

Major Publishers of Museum Studies and Archaeology

Though not exhaustive by any means, the three publishers below offer a good sampling of research  published at the intersection of applied archaeology and museums

Miscellaneous Resources

  • Society of Museum Archaeology – A worthwhile link from the UK
  • Chronicle of Higher Education – The Chronicle is definitely worth staying on top of for current trends and discussions in the social science and museum studies fields.  Many web links contain solid advice particularly for those seeking careers in academia.
  • Museum Studies Graduate Programs List – A reasonably exhaustive US list of graduate programs in Museum Studies including online and certificate offerings.

Career and Listserv Links

Listservs remain a solid place for finding out about job openings, internships, and current trends in Museum Studies.  If a student has done their homework to ask specific questions and not simply posts general queries like “Any advice for someone seeking a career in Museums?” they will find the membership of these lists quite helpful.  The below lists are rather general, and between the three, contain most job and internship listings that are not highly specialized.

  • Museum-L –  General Museum list of museum professionals
  • Museum-Ed – List of the Museum Education Roundtable
  • AAMG – List for the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries.  Particularly good for jobs and discussions related to university based institutions.

Some of My Stuff

My Contact Information

Robert P. Connolly, PhD, Director
C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa,
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Memphis
901-785-3160, ext. 15 (museum)
rcnnolly@memphis.edu – best way to get a hold of me

Public Education Committee Sponsored Sessions at the Society for American Archaeology Meetings

I am honored to currently serve as the Chair of the Public Education Committee (PEC) of the Society for American Archaeology.  At the Annual Conference of the SAA this April 23-27 the PEC is pleased to sponsor the sessions listed below.  Here is a link for more information on the Annual Meeting including a complete program.  Hope to see you in Austin!



Welcome to Online Archaeology!

  •  Thursday, April 24, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
  • Maximum 24 persons;
  • $79 Annual Meeting attendees;
  • $49 student meeting attendees;
  • $129 non-meeting attendees

Instructors: Shereen Lerner (MesaCommunity College), Nancy Gonlin, RPA (Bellevue College), and Christine Dixon (University of Colorado and Bellevue College)

Target Audience: Archaeologists who teach or want to learn how to teach online or hybrid courses or improve the current content of their courses. The latest trend in education is the offering of online courses. As archaeologists, it is our duty to ensure high-quality education and to successfully convey the essence of the field through the medium of online teaching. This workshop will be a hands-on experience to demonstrate and share what has worked successfully in the online archaeology classroom. Several archaeologists have extensive experience in teaching in this environment and are familiar with various approaches that can be taken, regardless of the learning management system used by an institution to run online courses. Attendees will have the opportunity to map out a module of their own classes.

Major outcomes and lessons of the workshop participants will take away:

  1. A sense/knowledge of what approaches work well in the online environment
  2. Activities, films, assignments, and other assessments that convey essential archaeology concepts
  3. Links to resources for online archaeology education
  4. How to set up blogs and discussion areas and incorporate it into the online classroom
  5. How to incorporate or improve a course module and an outline of it



Public Education Committee Meeting

  • Thursday, April 24, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
  • Salon C (HA)

Public Education State Network Coordinators Meeting

  • Friday, April 25, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
  • Salon D (HA)



Electronic Symposium · Getting Back to Saving the Past for the Future: Heritage Education at a Professional Crossroads

  • Thursday, April 24, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Room: 19B (ACC)

 In 1988, the Society for American Archaeology initiated the “Save the Past for the Future” Project to curb vandalism and destruction of archaeological resources, and provide for public education. Federal and state agencies and partners responded with an impressive variety of programs such as the Passport in Time program and Project Archaeology. The SAA’s Public Education Committee (PEC) became not only a clearing house for heritage education, but launched a number of successful internal and external initiatives, through the dedicated service of over 50 members. Despite the successes of the PEC, Board support for the large, active group waned and in 2008 reduced the size to 15 rotating members, in keeping with new SAA committee policy. During the same period environmental educators formed the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). The NAAEE has state chapters to promote environmental education within states, establish best practices, and holds an annual meeting that attracts 1000 educators. Today the future of heritage education is threatened because it has no organization to support the efforts of a large group of heritage education professionals. This session will explore the development of heritage and environmental education and examine the possibilities for future professionalization of heritage education.

Here is a link to the papers for the session.

 Chair: Margaret Heath


  • Shereen Lerner—Challenging the Status Quo
  • Maureen Malloy—Archaeology Education in the U.S.: Past, Present, and Future
  • Jeanne Moe—Archaeology and the Common Core State Standards: All Hands onDeck
  • Hope Luhman—Considering the Possibilities: Cultural Resource Management’s Role in Heritage Education
  • A. Gwynn Henderson—Public Archaeology at the Kentucky Archaeological Survey
  • Ryan Harke—Towards a Public Environmental Archaeology: History, Survey and Suggestion
  • Ben Thomas—Facilitating Outreach and Education on a Grassroots Level
  • Robert King—Heritage Education at the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree: A Report on an Opportunity Taken
  • Meredith Hardy—New Directions in Archeological and Cultural Heritage Education
  • Eleanor King—Heritage and the Underrepresented: the Perspective from Howard University
  • Margaret Heath—Past, Present, and Future Directions of Heritage Education



[152] Symposium · Co-Creation, The Public, and the Archaeological Record 

  • Friday Morning, April 25, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Room: 19B (ACC)

Co-creation in public archaeology is a means to engage and empower citizens to become stakeholders of the archaeological record. In museum contexts Simon (2010:278) writes that the purpose of co-creative community projects is “to give voice and be responsive to the needs and interests of local community members; to provide a place for community engagement and dialogue; and to help participants develop skills that will support their own individual and community goals.” The papers in this session discuss a variety of recent archaeological projects that implement the co-creative model. The contributions demonstrate how co-creation moves beyond “hands-on” educational experiences or typical volunteer programs because participants are invited to play an active role in designing and constructing the final products to address their needs and interests. Co-creation aligns with current emphases on informal, lifelong, and free-choice learning models that foster public engagement in the preservation of cultural heritage resources. The papers in this session also explore the benefits and challenges of using this method and provide examples of best practices for implementation. Finally, these papers speak to the impact of co-creation on the discipline and how the process increases the ability of archaeology to contribute to debates on contemporary issues.

Chairs: Elizabeth Bollwerk and Robert Connolly


  • 8:00 Robert Connolly—Co-creation as an Essential Means Toward Open Authority in Archaeology
  • 8:15 T. J. Ferguson and Stewart Koyiyumptewa—Co-Creation of Knowledge about the Past by The Hopi Tribe and Archaeologists
  • 8:30 Kimberly Kasper and Russell Handsman—The Duality of a 21st Century Tribal Museum: Archaeological Research and Museum Stakeholders at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
  • 8:45 Kenneth Robinson and Stephen Whittington—The Road Goes Ever On and On: Public Archaeology at Teozacoalco
  • 9:00 Elizabeth Katherine Cruzado Carranza and Rebecca Bria —Making the Past Relevant: Finding Solutions to the Challenges of Heritage Preservation in Rural Communities in Peru
  • 9:15 Britton Shepardson and Beno Atan—Approaching sustainable public archaeology on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): education, conservation, research, and tourism
  • 9:30 Teresa Moyer—Building Capacity for Co-Created Digital Moviemaking through Youth Programs
  • 9:45 Bernard Means—Promoting a More Interactive Public Archaeology: Archaeological Visualization and Reflexivity through Virtual Artifact Curation
  • 10:00 Elizabeth Bollwerk—Open(ing) Archaeology: A Model for Digital Engagement
  • 10:15 Holly Andrew and Bonnie Pitblado—Engaging and Empowering Citizen Archaeologists through the Co-Creative Process: A Case Study Involving the Oklahoma Anthropological Society
  • 10:30 Matthew Reeves—Transforming Metal Detectorists into Citizen Scientists
  • 10:45 Kimberley Popetz—Turning Privies into Class Projects
  • 11:00 Sarah Miller, Jeff Moates and Michelle Williams—Co-Creation and the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) Program Across Florida
  • 11:15 Michael Barber, Carole Nash and Michael Madden—The “Public in Public Archaeology: Down from the Ivory Tower and into the Real Trenches
  • 11:30 Mallory Haas and Elizabeth Hoag—Developing archaeological vernacular when approaching salvage in community: Decommissioning Euclid Avenue Churches in Cleveland Ohio.
  • 11:45 Carol McDavid—Discussant




  •  Saturday, April 26, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
  • Room: 8B (ACC)

Archaeology courses offer ample opportunity to engage students in creative learning. Our discipline is one of infinite curiosity and discovery, which translates well to hands-on and/or critical thinking exercises. However, designing and implementing appropriate activities can be a challenge, particularly for new instructors. It takes time to develop an activity, supplies may not be readily available, planned activities may not live up to expectations, or student interaction may be difficult to facilitate. This forum is designed to offer archaeology instructors the opportunity to discuss, brainstorm, and share classroom activities. Our goal is for attendees to leave with examples of activities that could be implemented in a variety of archaeology courses. Each discussant will present a successful activity, including sharing tips and techniques to replicate the activity. Forum attendees will then collaboratively outline activities to teach common archaeological concepts in an engaged manner, allowing participants to learn from the successes and challenges others have experienced.

Moderator: Heidi Bauer-Clapp


  • Heidi Bauer-Clapp—Discussant
  • Robert Connolly—Discussant
  • Bonnie Pitblado—Discussant
  • Katie Kirakosian—Discussant



Co-Creation, the Public, and the Archaeological Record

My colleague Elizabeth Bollwerk and I have organized a session of papers (Friday morning, April 25 at 8:00 AM) around the theme of Co-Creation, the Public, and the Archaeological Record  for the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting this month in Austin Texas.  We previously organized a session on museums and co-creation at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings a couple of years ago, published last year as a thematic volume Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagement in the journal Museums and Social Issues.

The 2014 SAA meeting session brings together a set of papers by practitioners that take-up co-creation and open authority within the discipline of archaeology.  We are particularly pleased that Carol McDavid, a long-time leader in public archaeology and community engagement will serve as a discussant for the session.  The session abstracts are listed below.  If you are going to be in Austin, we hope to see you at our session!

crop hillisde

Open(ing) Archaeology: A Model for Digital Engagement – Elizabeth Bollwerk (Central Washington University, Museum of Culture and Environment) – This paper begins with a brief introduction of the Open Authority and Co-Creation models and explores their role in altering and revolutionizing archaeological practice.  The focus then shifts to a discussion of engagement methods that archaeologists are currently utilizing on the web, including blogging, crowdfunding, and social media and evaluates their success as co-creative projects.  These methods are compared with co-creative methods that are being utilized by other scientific disciplines, in particular, crowdsourcing.  This paper concludes by considering 1) the obstacles and challenges facing the implementation of archaeological co-creative projects that are web based and 2) best practices for digital co-creative engagement identified from successful projects.

The “Public” in Public Archaeology: Down from the Ivory Tower and into the Real Trenches – Michael B. Barber (Virginia Department of Historic Resources), Michael J. Madden (USDA-Forest Service), and Carole L. Nash (James Madison University) – Archaeology is not for the benefit of archaeologists.   Building on the foundation of the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Virginia’s community of professional archaeologists has joined forces and developed the “Certification Program for Archaeological Technicians.”   The program trains avocational archaeologists in the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the profession.  It is our contention here that co-creation should begin with the first phases of any archaeological endeavor and continue through interpretation and overall historic preservation.     

 Making the Past Relevant: Co-creative solutions to the challenges of heritage preservation in rural Peru – Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza (PIARA) and Rebecca E. Bria (Vanderbilt University and PIARA) – In the impoverished traditional Quechua communities of rural Ancash, Peru, the planning and implementing of archaeological heritage preservation and community museum projects faces a variety of obstacles that require creative solutions. At two nearby monumental archaeological sites with over 2000 years of prehistoric occupation, Hualcayán and Pariamarca, archaeologists work directly with the local community to demonstrate the relevance for the preservation of their cultural resources. Conflicting interests by adults who are pressured by local political parties, business interests, and a loss of connection to the ancient past has led the US and Peruvian collaborators of the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash (PIARA) to engage local communities in developing a multi-faceted and co-creative approach to present and protect their cultural heritage.  The engagement includes 1) long-term, education-focused heritage preservation projects with local school children, 2) the design of local museums that also serve as community centers, and 3) plans for the creation of a community-run development project to generate communal funds through ecological and cultural tourism activities. The latter project will connect the two sites as archaeological parks, museums, and campgrounds or homestays as tourism destinations rather than a simple pass-through on a Cordillera trek.

The Duality of a 21st Century Tribal Museum: Archaeological Research and Museum Stakeholders at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center – Kimberly Kasper (Rhodes College) and Russ Handsman (Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center) – Since opening its doors in 1998, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center has identified as both a tribal center and a museum committed to challenging the public’s conventional understandings of Native history in New England. Within each stakeholder arena, archaeological research continues to provide a critical pathway for recovering and illuminating the historic experiences of reservation life. In this paper, two internal case studies are presented to illustrate the complexity that exists within the museum’s dual identity as it integrates new information  “with, for and by” the tribe and public. The first focuses on the materiality of late 18th-century Pequot house sites and a recently developed low-cost but high impact, I-Pad-based program for museum patrons. The second reflects on how archaeobotanical studies, from 17th and 18th century Mashantucket historic sites, are incorporated into an ongoing project to nurture and enrich the storytelling tradition in the tribal community. For each project, there are two different audiences, two different types of archaeological material studies, and two very different approaches for collaborative engagement – co-existing in a single institution. That duality may not be present in other tribal museums but it is both foundational and essential to MPMRC’s mission to (re)construct nuanced understandings of Native American histories.

Co-Creation of Knowledge about the Past by The Hopi Tribe – T. J. Ferguson (University of Arizona) and Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa (Hopi Tribe) – For two decades, the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office has worked with archaeologists to co-create knowledge about the past and the contemporary values associated with heritage sites. Much of this work has been accomplished in the framework of research mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Here we describe the processes of this community-based participatory research, including research design, implementation of fieldwork, peer review of research findings, and reporting. The Hopi Tribe’s collaborative research with archaeologists provides intellectual benefits for the management of archaeological resources and the humanistic and scientific understanding of the past.

 Co-creation as an Essential Means Toward Open Authority in Archaeology – Robert Connolly (University of Memphis, C.H Nash Museum at Chucalissa) – Based in constructivist educational theory and using participatory museum and open authority models, this paper examines products co-created by visitors, volunteers, students, and museum staff at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa.  Two case studies are featured.  First, an exhibit on the African American Cultural Heritage of Southwest Memphis based on the excavated materials from a 1920s era farmstead that was co-created with University of Memphis and neighborhood high school students.  Second, using curated collections, a set of education products and museum exhibits co-created by avocational archaeologists, and museum studies graduate students.  Critical to the co-creative process is incorporating the authoritative voices and decisions of all participants.    This paper argues that co-created products are ultimately more robust and relevant to the public than projects that incorporate only the voice of the professional community.  As well, co-creative processes in archaeology serve as a vital link to educating the public on opportunities for engagement and the funding needs of cultural heritage institutions.  Co-creation forms an essential opportunity for sharing with the public the authority and responsibility for the curation of a community’s cultural heritage

Salvaging a Community: Archaeology, Demolition, and Resurrection at the Euclid Avenue Church of God, Cleveland, Ohio – Mallory R. Haas (Center for Community Studies) and Elizabeth A. Hoag (Cuyahoga Community College) – The unfortunate demolition of the ca. 1888 Euclid Avenue Church of God has created a unique opportunity for public archaeology. Both before and after the demolition, we began a new kind of community-based historic salvage and preservation project, to save public social memory and tangible artifacts from the church. In this paper, we describe how, working with various stake-holders involved with the structure including the congregation, municipal offices, and private institutions, we have utilized a more holistic perspective that seeks to accommodate everyone’s agendas. We are developing a co-creative approach to historical preservation while preserving social history and legacy of the structure.

Promoting a More Interactive Public Archaeology: Archaeological Visualization and Reflexivity through Virtual Artifact Curation – Bernard K. Means (Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University) – The Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University was established in August 2011 with funding from the Department of Defense’s Legacy Program. Since its establishment, the Virtual Curation Laboratory has created hundreds of 3D digital artifact models from a wide range of archaeological sites located in the eastern United States, as well as printed plastic replicas of many 3D digital models. Some have questioned whether our efforts and those of similar projects are curiosities or novelties with little to contribute meaningfully to scholarly research or public engagement. In this paper, I will argue that 3D digital models and printed replicas allow for new ways of visualizing the past, while preserving the actual artifacts themselves. These forms of archaeological visualization enable the broader public and not just a narrow band of researchers to dynamically and meaningfully interact with rare and fragile objects in ways that would otherwise not be possible, empowering their own contributions to interpreting and understanding the past.

Co-Creation and the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) Program Across Florida – Sarah E. Miller (Florida Public Archaeology Network) – The Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) program offered by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) began in 2011 as a reaction to the rapid deterioration of historic cemeteries in Florida.  During the first year the Northeast Regional Center of FPAN collaborated with community partners to conduct CRPT workshops in each of its seven counties.  CRPT has now expanded to over 20 cities across the state.  Workshop participants learn to view cemeteries as outdoor museums in their community through morning and afternoon sessions.  The morning session focuses on: cemeteries as archaeological sites, laws that protect cemeteries as well as the people who care for cemeteries, the importance of survey and recording, and examples of cemetery projects within the community.  The second session puts theory to practice with hands-on landscape assessment, headstone cleaning, and recording in a local cemetery.  This paper will assess CRPT as a c co-creative public archaeology program and discuss its relevance to the participating communities.

Building Capacity for Co-created Digital Moviemaking in Youth Programs – Teresa Moyer (National Park Service) – The Urban Archeology Corps is a National Park Service work program that invites youth to reflect on archeological stewardship through digital moviemaking. Youth from communities surrounding the Anacostia River watershed engage in interdisciplinary research with the end goal of individually crafting a short film about their experiences. Especial emphasis is placed on connecting the stories that go untold in the national parks with the youth and local people. This paper is a case study in building capacity in youth programs for co-created digital products that enable the National Park Service and the communities it serves to share in archeological stewardship.

Engaging and Empowering Citizen Archaeologists through the Co-Creative Process: A Case Study Involving the Oklahoma Anthropological Society – Holly Andrew & Bonnie Pitblado (University of Oklahoma) – Like many avocational archaeological groups across the nation, the Oklahoma Anthropological Society (OAS) has struggled in recent years to meet the needs and interests of community members.  To address this challenge, in spring 2013, OAS leadership requested our help to revitalize the group’s membership and its recently shelved archaeological certification program.  To ensure a co-creative approach to the reshaping of OAS, our approach to providing assistance began with an ethnographic study of the OAS membership—using methods including participant observation, individual interviews, and survey administration—to establish member values and goals.  We then compiled these data and used them to develop concrete proposals for a revised OAS certification program and for reaching out to a broader cross-section of Oklahoma citizens than had traditionally been the case.  Finally, we offered the proposals back to OAS membership for comments and suggestions for improvement, and revised the ideas accordingly.  Our paper overviews the methods and results of this collaboration between professional and avocational archaeologists and reflects upon the success of our co-creative effort to improve public archaeology programs and educational opportunities in the state of Oklahoma.

Transforming Metal Detectorists into Citizen Scientists – Matthew Reeves (James Madison’s Montpelier) – In 2012, the Archaeology Department at James Madison’s Montpelier began an experimental program with Minelab Americas to encourage metal detectorists to become more involved in the scientific process of archaeological research. Specifically, the program was designed to be a week-long experience where archaeologists and metal detectorists would work together to identify and preserve archaeological sites at the 2700-acre Montpelier property.  In the process, the metal detector participants were taught the importance of site preservation through background lectures and detailed information on how the survey methods they employ during the week with their metal detectors ensure minimal disturbance of the site while identifying enough information regarding the site to ensure its preservation. Participants learned how gridded metal detector surveys were conducted and the importance of proper context and curation of recovered objects.  In turn, participants provided feedback on what would enhance the experience to inspire continuing learning and interaction with archaeology in the future. The success of this program led to a new public-set of programs that are held three times per year and are open to the public. Having previous participants recommend this program to their friends and community members has been integral to the success of the programs.

Approaching sustainable public archaeology on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): education, conservation, research, and tourism – Britton Shepardson (Terevaka.net Archaeological Outreach) and Beno Atán (Explora) – Rapa Nui, like many other locations rich with archaeological heritage, poses extreme risks and potential when attempting to combine cultural conservation with tourism.  After ten years of work on Easter Island, Terevaka.net Archaeological Outreach (TAO) has developed a program to provide tourists, hotels, archaeologists, and conservationists with a vested interested in the education of high school students local to the island.  Our 2013 project sheds light on both a recipe for success in sustainable archaeology on the island and our shortcomings in reaching the goals of all participating organizations.

Turning Privies into Class Projects – Kimberley Popetz (Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum) – What would happen if we gave a group of high school students the opportunity to act as archaeologists and curators with a real archaeological collection? Would they benefit from the experience? Would we? And what about the rest of the community? Could they derive some benefit from the project as well? We decided to find out. Students worked with a collection of artifacts that was excavated more than 30 years ago, turning it into an exhibit for the public. If you’re contemplating a similar project, join us to learn what worked and what to avoid.

The Road Goes Ever On and On: Public Archaeology at Teozacoalco – Kenneth Robinson and Stephen L. Whittington (Wake Forest University) – Co-creation in public archaeology can be challenging outside of the United States, particularly when a project provides the first opportunity people have to meet an archaeologist, or even to hear of archaeology. The staff of the Teozacoalco Archaeological Project has been working since 2002 with citizens and authorities of San Pedro Teozacoalco and other small communities to undertake the first archaeological research in a remote part of the Mixteca Alta in Oaxaca. The project is attempting to collect data and respond to the desires of rural communities while negotiating regulations and politics at local, national, and international levels.

Discussant – Carol McDavid (Community Archaeology Research Institute, Inc.
& Rice University)

Blogging Archaeology in the Future


The final question posed by Doug for the blog carnival leading up the Society for American Archaeology meetings in April is: “…where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go?

I will take up Doug’s question more broadly from the perspective of user-generated content and open(ing) authority and consider additional forms of user-generated content.  The question raises a few themes for me:

Information Sharing – When I began this blog a few years ago my desire was to share information about outreach in museums and archaeology with my colleagues and a broader audience.  I knew that collectively we were doing a lot of interesting stuff in cultural heritage outreach that could benefit others.  My interactions through this blog over the past several years supports that claim.  Counting hits, reblogs, comments are gauges of whether the information presented is considered of value.  But my primary motivation for continuing to blog comes from the side comments made in phone calls, emails, or visits with colleagues and students who note how a particular post was helpful to them.  These interactions confirm to me that there is a desire for sharing information, my basis for launching this blog in the first place.

Beyond formal blogging, I am pleased with other new means of sharing information.  As an example consider academia.edu.  A bunch of years ago when doing my dissertation research I transcribed the handwritten field records of archaeologists who had conducted excavations at the Fort Ancient site (33Wa2) in Warren County, Ohio.  As I now slowly edge toward retirement, coupled by working with a PhD student with an interest in those records, a few months ago, I loaded the transcribed notes to the academia.edu site.  There are not a huge number of views of the records, but certainly enough to warrant the 60 minutes or so it took to format and load the notes.  Similarly, I loaded course syllabi to academia.edu.  I appreciate that others have done the same.

Diversity – I appreciate that blogging provides me with a diversity of thinking on a topic.  For example, I enjoy the Bamburgh Research Projects approach to community outreach in Britain.  Blogs such as Paul Mullins’ Archaeology and Material Culture, Jamie Gordon’s Narcissistic Anthropologist, and Amy Santee’s Anthropologizing are resources that allow me to expand my box of thinking in consumerism.  The list of topics I learn about through blogs is extensive.  In my day-to-day existence, I simply do not have the time or resources to access this diversity of material through traditional print media, or even online journals.

I liken much of my blog reading to the three quarters of linguistics courses I took as an undergraduate.  I am not certain how those classes aid me directly in my career today but I know they provide me another angle to approach research and a good way to think.  The same is true with blogs I read.  I appreciate this level of diversity and my ability to be a part of that process.

Relevance – A growing buzzword in the cultural heritage industry today, particularly in the public sector, is relevance.  Today, a good bit of virtual ink is spilled that 10 years ago would be limited to peer-reviewed publications, conference papers with the obligatory “Do not cite without the written permission . . . ” or other scholarly publications.  Today, I am as likely to Google a term as opposed to searching in JSTOR, depending on the task at hand.  Peer review is in a state of transition and I do not mean to dismiss the process.  However, as I discussed and demonstrated in my Wikipedia as a Scholarly Research Tool undergraduate honors seminar this past fall, it’s not difficult to find Wikipedia entries that are more accurate than information found in scholarly publications on a particular subject.  That is, increasingly, the platform of delivery is less important than the scholarship behind the presentation.  I suspect this process will continue to evolve, and that blogs will be a part of that process.   Blogs and similar types of platforms will prove relevant to a range of public needs in informal and lifelong learning processes.

I suspect that 10 years from now blogs will be a thing of the past, replaced by a technology/mechanism that better suits the public needs.  For me, the ability to share and receive a diversity of relevant information will likely keep me blogging for the foreseeable future.

What if No One Comes to the Party?


2013 Art for Voice creator Penny Dodds (left) with participants

This semester I am teaching one of my favorite classes of all time – Applied Archaeology and Museums.  The course is in part a glomming together of much of what I hold dear in cultural heritage studies.  Students come to appreciate that archaeology is more than just digging up stuff and that museums are more than places to look at things and be given definitive explanations – but not touch or otherwise engage.  The course description goes like this:

The course explores the intersection of Applied Archaeology and Museums through the representations of cultural heritage in a broad array of public venues.   Topics that comprise the exploration include repatriation, cultural patrimony, cultural resource management, civic engagement, rights and responsibilities of stakeholders, public involvement in museum representations, performance, education, culture and memory.  The course is applied in focus.  Students will be challenged to transform concepts contained in readings to real-time applications through class projects and written assignments.

Here is a copy of the syllabus if interested.

One of the class readings this past week was from the book Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair and others (reviewed here).  The article “Whose Questions, Whose Conversations” by Kathleen McLean presents the case for greater visitor engagement in the museum exhibit/program creation process.  I cleverly, by my estimation, presented a Powerpoint slide with a quote from McLean’s article:

It’s not as radical as it might sound.  Increasingly, museums are employing visitor research and evaluation to better understand how their programs and exhibitions affect their end-users. (p.72)

McLean, K.  2011.  Whose Questions, Whose Conversations? In Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by B. Adair, B. Filene and L. Koloski, pp. pp. 34-43. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.

and a nearly 100 year-old quote from John Cotton Dana:

Museum purposes and methods change daily, as do all other community enterprises in these days.  Therefore, do not try to develop a museum after a plan. Learn what aid the community needs: fit the museum to those needs. (p. 38)

Dana, John Cotton.  1917. The New Museum, Elm Tree Press.

My intent was to show that it is not “radical” at all to engage the community in such discussions, but the idea has been around for 100 years.

In their reading journals, two students raised interesting questions about McLean’s article:

Jordan Goss, an undergraduate with an interest in anthropology and geoarchaeology wrote:

Since I have not gotten the chance to physically carry out the concept of Applied Archaeology just yet, I’m not sure if this is an appropriate question or simply meaningless.  But what would happen if you wish to create ways for the public to participate in museum activities yet the public refuses?

Allison Hennie a PhD student with a background in architecture, anthropology and museum studies wrote:

As part of the Museum Studies Certificate Program, there seem to be never-ending supply of readings about how museums need to change. So, why haven’t things changed yet? Are museums forcing engagement or do all visitors really want to engage?

Both excellent observations.  The student responses bring to mind a couple of my own experiences at the C.H. Nash Museum.  Our “Hands-on Archaeology Lab” contains artifacts and exhibits to provide a highly tactile visitor experience.  As well, through regular programs, and on request we also offer visitors the opportunity to throw darts with an atlatl.  Most visitors are thrilled with these opportunities.  Others just want to pay their admission and be left alone to wonder the exhibit hall and the earthwork complex.  “No” they politely respond – they don’t want to go into our lab or throw darts.

But here too is a reality.  No one at our Museum ever asked any visitor if they wanted us to create a hands-on archaeology lab or develop an atlatl program.  Our staff created the activities on our own initiative and basically, we guessed right.  Both are very popular activities and provide an excellent opportunity to engage and educate around our mission.

We are now take a different approach before creating exhibits and programs.  We hold focus groups and conduct surveys with our existing and intended visitors to see what they want us to create.  I do not think this means becoming all things to all people.  In answering the above questions posed by Jordan and Allison, as public servants, we must be proactive in finding the appropriate level and type of visitor engagement that is consistent with our mission.  As Dana noted in 1917, that is often simply a matter of asking the community of their needs – not having cultural heritage staffs attempt to second guess those needs.

As a small Museum we have incredible opportunities to fill a variety of public need niches.  For example, in our Art for Voice program last summer, we had several families with autistic children who participated and wished for more offerings suitable for their special needs.  This morning I came across an Archaeologists for Autism Facebook group that aims to support greater inclusion of special needs children in cultural heritage programs.  This seems an excellent example of how our museum can engage with our public in a way envisioned by John Cotton Dana in 1917 and Kathleen McLean in the 21st Century.

How do you answer the questions posed by Jordan and Allison?

Twitter as a Cultural Resource Outreach Tool

This past November, along with my colleagues Sarah Miller, Christy Pritchard, and Steve Dasovich, I attended the National Council of Social Studies conference in St. Louis  to staff the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse exhibit.  On the opening morning of the conference, Sarah began to send out tweets about the event (#NCSS2013).  As a relative novice at Twitter, I raised with Sarah that I did not quite get the concept tweeting conferences.  I understood using Twitter to share links, event notices, and other announcements but the conference tweeting did not make sense to me.  Sarah immediately responded with a mini-tutorial on the multiple uses of the 140-character social media tool.  I was impressed and asked if she could share her thoughts in a blog post.  She graciously agreed.  

diver sarah

Sarah Miller, Florida Public Archaeology Network

by Sarah Miller

Social media is a hard sell for heritage professionals not already engaged in on-line activities for their personal life, especially so for Twitter.  One reason to consider social media is its ability to reach new audiences and build a following to create buzz.  For this, Twitter is ideal because of its instant access and user demographics.  Research continues to show that Twitter appeals to underserved audiences in my field (public archaeology): adults 18-29, African Americans, and urban residents.  Here’s a few suggestions on how to use Twitter to promote historical resources in your area and encourage growth in your own professional development.

  •  De-mystify what you do.  If you receive public funding, it is implied that there be public benefit to the work you perform.  While most outreach takes the form of public events, that doesn’t mean time behind the scenes is off limits.  Twitter allows you to update minute to minute your activities, from the glamorous to the mundane.  Giving the public insight into your daily activities as a professional, in my case an archaeologist, is a service in and of itself to the discipline.
  • Highlight current research and events.  It’s easy to forward on information to the public by pasting in URLs to flier and event calendars, as well as reposting research.  Consider recycling your own research products.  For example, when we do a conference paper or poster, we post our findings to the blog and send out to our social media outlets.  Tagging significant partners or themes, such as #slr for sea level rise or #ethics, encourages conversation across disciplines.  On the flip side, social media numbers (including Twitter followers) demonstrate potential audience numbers for promotion of events for grant applications and funding.
  • Open up communication.  Having a Twitter account lets your followers know they can easily get your attention by tagging your handle or sending you a direct message.  Taken further, you can also live tweet events or chats many of your followers may not be able to attend.  We regularly live tweet lectures on a designated account (@FPANlive).  The feed is then archived on our Storify account, making it easier to share with on-line audiences, or even forwarding on via email to public not engaged in social media.  One area we hope to expand is in offering live chats with other professional archaeologists working or visiting Florida.
  • Engage with other professionals.  The conferences I most look forward to attending are those with a strong social media component.  Take for example the recent Society for Historical Archaeology conference held in Quebec, Canada.  Months before the conference conversations began on Twitter using the #SHA2014 hashtag.  During the conference I used Twitter to find those who share a common interest.   Archaeology in the Community (@AITC_DC) tweeted “Come talk public archaeology with us!”  So I did (also known as a tweet-up).  Unfortunately, due to the Arctic Blast, many attendees were stranded at airports or had to turn back.  For many, social media was the only lifeline into the conference.  The Society has a social media plan in place and does a great job providing guidance as to how to use social media for its maximum benefit (2013 conference link and 2014 conference link).


    Sarah Miller (center) with Steve Dasovich and Christy Pritchard tweeted the proceedings from the National Council of Social Studies conference for the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse.

  • Build Community.  Social media is only fun when others play.  By nature it is collaborative and encourages partnership between individuals and organizations.  If you’re finding it hard to get followers and want more comments, be sure you are following others and also commenting.  Some of our go to public archaeology partners are results of threads that began on Twitter and are marked using the #PubArch hashtag.  I immediately know that they are engaged with the same audience I’m seeking, what kind of communication they produce and promote, and have a way to network information when truly necessary to an exponentially larger audience.  Another tip: on Fridays people use #ff (follow Fridays) to recommend likeminded peeps to follow.  If someone you follow sends out  a #ff, check out who they recommend.  Find someone you like?  Give them and others you chat with the courtesy of a #ff post.

If you need help getting started, sign up for a Twitter account and start a conversation with me @semiller88.  I recommend you first search topics you’re personally interested in to get an idea for how people share information, and importantly the tone they use to express themselves.  Then look up your professional interests, such as #archaeology or #pubarch (public archaeology) hashtags to see what others are posting to these subjects.  Make note of local museums, newspapers, organizations that also have accounts and be sure to share their posts or tag when you mention them.  Start slow with a goal of 4 tweets a day, add pictures, and after a month challenge yourself to live tweet an event you already planned on attending.

Remember, social media is only fun when others play!


Flyer for recent Florida Public Archaeology Network workshop on social media

  • Twenty Tweeps to Get You Started
  • Kris Hirst @archaeology
  • NPS Archeology @NPSArcheology (note: now a variety of great NPS accounts!)
  • Society of American Archaeology @SAAorg
  • Society of Historical Archaeology @sha_org
  • National Archaeology Day @arcahaeologyday
  • American Archaeology @tac_org
  • LivingArchWeekend @LiveArchaeology
  • Terry Brock @brockter
  • Lorna Richardson @lornarichardson
  • Nicolas Laracuente @archaeologist
  • Ed Gonzalez-Tennant @gonzaleztennant
  • Lynne Goldstein @lynnegoldstein
  • Paul Mullins @mullins_paul
  • Succint Bill @succinctbill
  • Webby @archeowebby
  • Mandy Ranslow @mrshlltwnmauler
  • Cort Sims @cortsims
  • Myriam Arcangeli @Terrailles
  • Ralph Mills @archaeologyman
  • Robert Connolly @yagumboya

Sarah Miller is Director of the Northeast and East Central Regions of the Florida Public Archaeology Network.  You can find her on Twitter: @semiller88, @fpannortheast, @fpaneastcentral, and @fpanlive (okay, and @beerarchy too) or via email at SEMiller@flagler.edu

Applying Archaeology with the Public

excaThis semester I am teaching Applied Archaeology and Museums at the University of Memphis.  This course addresses my primary research interests – the preservation and presentation of cultural heritage and its use as an empowerment tool for the public.  Since I last taught the course two years ago, the resources for this empowerment tool multiplied exponentially.  A good bit of the growth comes from digital technology put in the service of human needs.  (Note this understanding of technology, well articulated by folks such as Clay Shirky, is at odds with the neo-Luddite perspective.  See here for my rant on all that.)

Access to the products of digital technology is not always simple or readily available.  Jason Baird Jackson posted an interesting piece on the high costs for accessing academic publications in a growing open access world.  The post includes a link to The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine that allows an author to retain specific distribution rights for their published work.  Sherpa is a searchable database that lists distribution rights by journal that authors retain for open access distribution.  Here I am less interested in discussing specific open-access issues, and more some of the current venues and perspectives in which cultural heritage information is presented to the public.

On the digital end:

A common point for these new opportunities is that even in my low-tech and financially strapped museum existence, all are practical possibilities where the primary limitation is not technology but labor to produce the products – a situation that can circle back to volunteerism and community service learning.

A second common point is that products of these technologies are accessible to a public with a wi-fi connection and basic internet surfing skills.

However, when considering the products that will live in real-time contexts created by students in my Applied Archaeology and Museums course this semester – after all, isn’t that what applied is all about? – I am concerned that the products be relevant to public interests and needs.  Consider:

  • I had a back-and-forth with a recent graduate of our applied anthropology program who lamented that she felt well-prepared to write lengthy academic reports but her employers really only wanted the punch line impact statements, something her academic training left her unprepared to produce.
  • I am working with a student who is developing an exhibit for a county museum based on a several thousand piece surface collection curated in our museum repository for the past 30 years.    The intern was excited by my preaching about the need for the exhibit to be relevant to the public, including avocational archaeologists who visit the museum.  To that end, we discussed how the exhibit could interpret prehistoric trade and exchange, site function, and time period of occupation – all based on typical artifacts collected from the land surface after spring plowing or a good rain.  However, as a well-trained anthropology undergraduate, the student was reasonably obsessed with making certain she typed her projectile points accurately.  Her training made it hard to accept that the primary public interest of similar shaped points, from the same time period, manufactured at the same location, likely used for the same function, was not the correct typological name ascribed by an archaeologist several thousand years after the tools production.  An exhibit that is not typology focused is not “dumbing down” to the public, but rather, functionally interpretive and different.  That is a lesson from our co-creation with avocational archaeologists.

Co-creation with the public is a critical part of making resources relevant – whether digital or real-time.  Co-creation has become a buzzword in museum contexts for the past number years, as popularized by Nina Simon in her Participatory Museum volume.   My colleague Elizabeth Bollwerk and I have organized a fifteen paper session Co-Creation, the Public and the Archaeological Record  for the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meetings this April in Austin, Texas.  The session abstract is:

Co-creation in public archaeology is a means to engage and empower citizens to become stakeholders of the archaeological record. In museum contexts Simon (2010:278) writes that the purpose of co-creative community projects is “to give voice and be responsive to the needs and interests of local community members; to provide a place for community engagement and dialogue; and to help participants develop skills that will support their own individual and community goals.” The papers in this session discuss a variety of recent archaeological projects that implement the co-creative model. The contributions demonstrate how co-creation moves beyond “hands-on” educational experiences or typical volunteer programs because participants are invited to play an active role in designing and constructing the final products to address their needs and interests. Co-creation aligns with current emphases on informal, life-long, and free-choice learning models that foster public engagement in the preservation of cultural heritage resources. The papers in this session also explore the benefits and challenges of using this method and provide examples of best practices for implementation. Finally, these papers speak to the impact of co-creation on the discipline and how the process increases the ability of archaeology to contribute to debates on contemporary issues.

We are pleased that Carol McDavid, a pioneer in this process, including her work at the Levi-Jordan Plantation (link to 1998 website) will serve as a discussant for the session.

How do you envision co-creation in archaeology?

Thinking Local in Archaeological Outreach

SCAPOD Group Pho

SCAPOD co-founders from left to right Helena Ferguson, Meg Gaillard, and Erika Shofner

The South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division (SCAPOD) was formed in 2010 with a mission to engage the public in the presentation and preservation of the regions cultural heritage through publications, education and museums.  With an explicitly ‘think local’ perspective the  recently formed 501(c)3 is an example of how local initiatives can be instrumental in bringing the often exotic perceptions of archaeological research into our own backyards.  The three SCAPOD co-founders, Helena Ferguson, Meg Gaillard, and Erika Shofner demonstrate the commitment to public service in archaeology by the new generation of practitioners.  Below is an interview with the three co-founding members of SCAPOD.

Can you tell me a bit about SCAPOD, how and why the organization was formed?

In 2008, Meg and Erika were looking for a topic to present at the upcoming Southeastern Archaeology Conference  (SEAC).  Both were interested in educational outreach in archaeology and heard about the South Carolina archaeology teacher’s manual “Can you Dig it?” that was compiled in the 1980s.  They decided to examine the manual along with the current archaeology outreach in South Carolina and find a way to update the lesson plans to fit current standards.  The more they researched the more wonderful outreach programs they found (both past and present).  They outlined a possible plan for updating and maintaining a new archaeology manual for South Carolina teachers at the conference. A number of professionals expressed interest in what they proposed.  Helena soon joined the group and the three started coming up with more archaeology public outreach ideas and projects.  It was clear that there was no single organization that dealt primarily with archaeology outreach in South Carolina, so Erika, Meg, and Helena decided to make their own.

What niche does SCAPOD fill in educational outreach in South Carolina?

We do a little bit of everything – classroom visits, adult programs/presentations, museum exhibit design, and so forth. We have plans of more projects for the future.  However, one of our main visions for SCAPOD was for it to be an archaeology outreach “clearinghouse” of sorts.  There are numerous other organizations that do great archaeology outreach programs. We don’t want to be seen as competition for organizations who do similar programs to SCAPOD, but rather a collaborator that can assist in successful archaeology outreach within South Carolina. We also aim to fill in the gaps of needed programing statewide.

In your outreach efforts you promote a “think local” perspective.  Has that approach been successful?

We like to think so.  Often, we find that when we talk to people about archaeology, they begin to talk about far off lands like Egypt and Greece.  Although archaeology in these areas is widely publicized, people have a hard time making personal connections with far off lands.  Discovering and learning more about the archaeology that goes on in South Carolina, sometimes literally in their backyards, makes the topic much more relevant to people especially children.  Children are total cultural creatures, meaning they are sponges of the culture that surrounds them.  Exposure to thinking culturally on a local level is a tremendous benefit to them as they grow and develop.  We have been in contact with teachers about archaeology program development. They were very excited to hear we emphasize South Carolina’s history and archaeology.  In local schools, when they focus on South Carolina history, our archaeology programs fit nicely into the curriculum while also meeting state teaching standards.

Meg with Scouts

SCAPOD co-founder Meg Gaillard teaches Boy Scouts and Scout leaders how to shovel test, screen dirt, and look for artifacts at the Fort Congaree Site. SCAPOD helped these Scouts earn their Archaeology Merit Badges.

How has your public outreach evolved since SCAPOD was formed?

We have learned to be flexible with our approaches and programs.  We found giving multiple program options, or offering to tweak a program so it fits the setting/current area of study works the best, rather than having set or “canned” program options.  It seems best if you allow the client/audience to guide some of the development of the programs so that we can effectively reach the public.  Our outreach is a unique form of applied anthropology, where we take anthropological perspectives and make them relevant through real life examples of archaeology.  We have also learned four very important words “go with the flow”.  No matter how well you think you have something planned, there is always the potential for something unexpected and opportunities for creative development.

How will SCAPOD adapt programming to meet common core curriculum standards? 

The manual that began this whole adventure, “Can You Dig It”, was a printed manual handed out to teachers.  Our draft third grade manual is currently available and completely free on our website (scapod.org/manual).  Our plans for the manual are to keep adding grades to it on the digital format.  Having the manual in digital format allows us to edit in order to fit the changing nature of the South Carolina teaching standards in real time.  The cost associated with editing, printing, and distributing is eliminated which allows us to keep the resource free to teachers. All SCAPOD Archaeology in the Classroom programs have a connection to the current South Carolina teaching standards, and are revised as those standards change.

What do you consider your most successful recent efforts in public outreach or community engagement? 

We just completed activities from a grant that was awarded to us by Target Corporation for our Archaeology in the Classroom program.  This grant allowed us to provide students with quality archaeology programs and helped teachers reinforce their lessons.  The students reached with this program go to schools where budgets have been slashed preventing them from being able to take field trips and have access to supplemental educational opportunities in the classroom.  Our hands-on programs brought the material to them for free.

Pottery Refit1

Students working to re-fit their broken pots to get the experience of what archaeologists do in the lab during a SCAPOD program

How has SCAPOD incorporated social media and a “virtual” presence in public outreach and education?

We have a SCAPOD FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest page, as well as our website and associated blog.  As SCAPOD develops, we have found that social media has been wonderful for publicizing what we do and where we have been, as well as local, national, and international stories of archaeological interest.  One thing we have learned is how difficult it can be to keep up with social media posts!  We are always looking for volunteers to help us keep our virtual presence active and up-to-date.

As a relatively new organization, what are some of the biggest lessons you have learned from your educational and outreach program? 

You can never have too much help!  We have begun to rely heavily on volunteers to help us carry out our programming.  We are very fortunate to have great volunteers that make this possible.  Our connections with the local archaeology community provide us with dedicated individuals.

Also, experiment! We have learned, because of the custom tailored nature of our activities, we really don’t know how a program will go until we do it.  Every time we do a program we have a list of how to improve it and what worked well. The list helps us the next time we go to do the program.  If you’re afraid to try something that’s never been done before, you’ll never get new and original program ideas.

What do you consider to be the biggest obstacle in developing effective educational outreach? 

Time is our biggest obstacle right now.  All three of us have full-time jobs outside of SCAPOD, so it can be a challenge to balance work with the development and execution of our programming.  Thankfully we are all creative thinkers and do well with unique schedule adjustments.   We have been fortunate in the past year to begin developing a dedicated group of volunteers.  With SCAPOD’s current growth, we would not be able to do the amount of programming we have without them.

What has been your experience working with Boy Scouts in earning the Archaeology Merit Badge?

Working with the Boy Scouts in helping them earn their Archaeology Merit badges is a relatively new endeavor for SCAPOD.  The requirements and guidelines for the merit badge are quite rigorous  and, require professional assistance or supervision.  Although it is possible to complete the badge without direct access to artifacts or archaeological sites, we feel that hands-on experiences with archaeologists are the best way for the Scouts to get a true understanding of what the badge (and archaeology) really mean.  We were fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with a State Park Service Ranger who previously worked in Florida doing archaeology outreach activities.  When he came to South Carolina, he already had a good framework in place on how to fulfill the merit badge requirements using resources available through the State Parks.  SCAPOD has used this framework in conjunction with our own archaeological programming to provide a hands-on experience in the field.  Pairing South Carolina Boy Scout Troops with nearby archaeological sites is another way we are able to implement our “think local” theme and give the Scouts the opportunity to work at an actual site.

Do you have any words of wisdom for archaeological and museum professionals to enhance their outreach work? 

Love what you do and don’t be afraid to try something new and take a risk! If you love it then the amount of time you put into it unpaid won’t be as painful.  The formation of SCAPOD was a risk. There was no roadmap for what we did. We have put an enormous amount of our own time into what we have accomplished, but we love what we do.  We love working with the public and seeing them light up when they make the connections our programs provide.  That professional passion and those we work with is what has made us a successful nonprofit organization.  Being driven by what we do and the need we fill is what is propelling the organization forward.  We look forward to seeing what the future holds for SCAPOD!

Contact South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division at scapod@gmail.com

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