This semester we have been hard at work on a number of projects. Here are the updates from our graduate research team.
Jen and Amy
This semester, we worked on a grant proposal entitled, “Green from the Beginning: An Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Approach to Understanding MSU Sustainability Programs and Community Participation Through Time.” With Dr. Goldstein’s input, the grant was submitted to the MSU Office of Sustainability and we will hear back about the decision to fund the proposal on December 19th. If this proposal is funded, we will be able to employ one graduate research assistant and multiple graduate or undergraduate students as we wade through the historical records and archaeological material that will serve as the basis for our analysis. Previously, CAP fellows and interns worked on sustainability projects regarding historical use of transportation and foodstuffs from the inception of MSU to modern times and this grant would be used to further those endeavors.
As outlined in the following description of our project, we hope to document the University’s commitment to sustainable practices within a binary framework of history and community, referencing concepts such as land grant legacy and student participation as integral to its philosophy and goals. This proposal supports this approach and suggests that MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program is in a unique position to enhance the efficacy of this message by providing a temporally comprehensive documentation of sustainability policy and community perception/participation in sustainability initiatives.
The goals of CAP’s sustainability project are as follows: 1) Can we measure sustainability in MSU’s past? 2) How have MSU’s sustainability policies evolved over time? and 3) How has the campus community perceived and participated in campus food, energy, and transportation initiatives over time, and can we use this information to provide a way to more fully engage current students
This project will result in a documented, referenced history of MSU’s “green” heritage, which will allow the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability to more clearly nest the sustainability concept within the cultural history of the University. We will integrate ethnohistorical and archaeological research to construct a temporally and culturally sensitive picture of how sustainability has been understood and experienced by the historic campus community, providing critical context for a quantitative and qualitative description of evolving MSU’s food, energy, and transportation policies through time.
Our project will enhance MSU’s ability to reach its sustainability goals by extending the temporal scope of MSU’s sustainability measurement/assessment capabilities. We will firmly situate sustainability within a historic framework, and will foster a sense of campus community and environmental responsibility through shared “green” history.
In the following semester, we plan to continue our work by using archival and archaeological materials to create a summary of sustainability culture on campus during the historical phases outlined by CAP. We then plan to use modern day benchmarks developed for contemporary sustainability programs to “grade” the past. It will be interesting, we believe, to see how sustainable past practices really were as compared to modern standards. Additionally, our analysis will highlight trends in university sustainability policies and campus attitudes toward such policies over time.
The project that I have been working on for this semester is the development of an academic program to be used by elementary through high school classrooms to introduce the practice and theory of archaeology to students. The program will be in an online format and consist of a series of lesson plans, which outline basic concepts particular to archaeological method and which relate to the archaeology that is currently being conducted at the Michigan State University Campus.
Previous work conducted on this project includes extensive research into previously developed academic programs and lesson plans, many created by local and state historical societies. The three main sources that this program will be modeled after are the curriculum developed by the Society for American Archaeology, the Binghamton Campus Archaeology Program, and the curricula written by the Army Corps. of Engineers. Through research into these programs and others a clear outline for how lesson plans will be written up and the format for the academic program has been developed. In addition, research into the Campus Archives has been conducted as the beginning stages of creating the first lesson plan.
Currently, work is being done on writing and formatting the first lesson plan for the program packet. Specific photos from the MSU Archives have been selected as part of a lesson plan to introduce students to technology changes in the classroom. This lesson plan will also incorporate the archaeology that has been done on the MSU Campus by the Campus Archaeology Project. Recently, artifacts discovered during CAP excavations have been selected to be photographed for the lesson plan, which will then be incorporated with the Archive photos to introduce what changes in technology have taken place in the classroom, and how students can view this change in the archaeological record.
Eventually, by the end of the year the goal is to have at least four fully developed lesson plans introducing basic archaeological principles to students and combining them with local archaeology that has already been done on campus. The goal by the end of the calendar year is to have a minimum of four completed lesson plans on archaeological principles and local archaeology. The lesson plans will be formatted into an online format and made accessible to local schools through accessible pdf downloads that can be printed off by teachers.