Chris Stawski was involved with Campus Archaeology at its inception, beginning as an archaeological technician in the summer of 2008. Chris also held the position of Campus Archaeologist during the 2010-2011 academic year. During his tenure with CAP, he was a […]
Tag: Public Outreach
Those who follow us know that outreach is a big part of what we do in the Campus Archaeology Program. Every year, CAP participates in several public outreach events including Michigan Archaeology Day, Grandparents University, ScienceFest, and more. These events are important because it gives […]
Throughout our careers, we as archaeologists participate in public outreach programs. Whether through public dig sites, school programs or artifact identifications, outreach programs come in many shapes and sizes and can be rewarding in unexpected ways for everyone involved. Being raised by my grandparents, I grew up surrounded by my elders. My afternoons were spent playing checkers in the senior retirement complex activity rooms and having dinner with my great-grandparents. My grandfather would meet me after kindergarten and take me to the park every day after school. In the evenings, before dinner we would watch the birds at their bird feeders and pull out their Little Golden Guide to Birds to find out what we were seeing. These are special memories for me.
Sadly, this past spring, my grandmother walked on to join my grandfather. When Dr. Goldstein approached us asking who would like to speak at Crosaires Assisted Living Facility about Campus Archaeology, I immediately responded. The campus archaeologist, Lisa Bright and I, answered the call for a presentation about MSU’s history. In early November, Lisa and I presented artifacts and visual representations of the excavations done on campus, documenting MSU’s extensive history. In attendance at Crosaires were a woman named Alex, her son, a graduate of MSU history, two other residents and the director. We passed around artifacts from the various periods of MSU’s past and listened as elders told us their own stories about the artifacts. Alex and her son were avid participants in our discussion, asking questions and offering anecdotal stories about the things we had documented through archaeology. Alex’s son remembered many of the changed landscapes we discussed from his time at MSU some forty years ago. Before leaving for the evening, the residents, family and director all expressed their appreciation for our work, saying that it made them feel good that young people actively sought to remember and educate others about the past. It made them feel important that the things they remember from their youth are being studied and discussed by younger generations. Lisa and I were very happy to have had this experience and touched that they were proud of our work.
Before leaving for the AAA’s, we received an email informing us that Alex had passed three days after we left. As I read my email before I left for the airport I got teary eyed. The director from Crosaires wanted to express her son’s appreciation for the presentation and the hands-on approach we took. He asked the director to express his gratefulness for the work we do and that we provided a beautiful last experience he got to share with his mother.
As an academic, I often struggle to find ways to explain my work to the general population. Many of us often feel that public outreach is not heard or noticed. It is a rare treat to truly feel the impact your work can have on the general public and to realize the unexpected ways you can impact people’s lives simply by explaining what you do. Campus Archaeology is one of the most publicly visible programs that our department has and our outreach is a vital part of it. People connect with the past and present simultaneously through the artifacts we recover and public outreach is our vehicle allowing that connection to be made.
Today is officially Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch). http://www.dayofarchaeology.com Here at Michigan State, we have finished the field school, completed most construction-related projects, and are cleaning artifacts, organizing things and preparing for the new school year. I (Lynne Goldstein) am personally doing conference calls and trying […]
Co-written by Lisa Bright and Nicole Geske Campus Archaeology participates in community education and outreach when possible, especially when we are specifically asked. But, with limited resources and time, we can often only accommodate large educational or MSU sponsored events. Therefore we find ourselves debating […]
Campus Archaeology is proud that we can give undergraduate students at MSU such an intensive, hands-on experience in archaeology. Our interns are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in every aspect of archaeology, from the research, to the lab work, all the way to full-scale excavations. Because of this, our interns continue in their careers/studies with a solid background in archaeology. We always like to keep up with what our previous interns are up to and get their feedback on how well CAP prepared them for their future careers. Kaitlin Scharra and Bethany Slon are two such previous interns, check out what they are up to.
I graduated from MSU in December 2012. During the following spring and summer, I was both a Laboratory Intern and Summer Survey Crew Member with Campus Archaeology. My focus during my time as a Laboratory Intern was on creating a functional classification for the artifacts from Saint’s Rest. The aim was to create an interpretation of the collection that the public could identify and engage with. Creating this personal bridge between the artifacts and the public became very important to me at this time and is now my biggest motivation.
After deciding to move to Detroit to be closer to my family, I was encouraged to check out Wayne State University’s program by none other than Kate Frederick. I was fortunate enough to join the Unearthing Detroit project. This is a collections-based research project which reanalyzes collections recovered from the salvage digs in the mid-1900s. Our biggest and most researched collection comes from the construction of the Renaissance Center. Like the collections at Michigan State, these are historic artifacts dating to the 19th Century. They are the artifacts from family households, hotels, a marketplace, bars, and boarding homes for the working class of trade commerce on the river and the Grand Trunk Railroad. The area, which is only about the size of West Circle, tells us the story of a very diverse and continually changing community. I also have enjoyed being able to compare this urban collection to that of my work in the Campus Archaeology collection. It really illustrates the differences between urban and rural settings in the 1800s.
My main job on the Unearthing Detroit team is to develop public outreach. This means I am the one who writes our weekly blog series, develops our face-to-face programs, and is constantly interacting with the public and other programs through social media.
This fall I will be beginning my Master’s in Anthropology here at Wayne State. I will be exploring the different avenues of public outreach. I hope to discover what are the advantages and disadvantages of public outreach and work towards creating efficient and useful methods.
I had the pleasure of working with CAP for two years, but sadly I had to say goodbye to the team last month, in order to pursue my research interests. Right now I am spending five months in Central Mexico, where I am assisting a Ph.D. student from the University of California Riverside with an excavation of a pre-Aztec elite residence.
We’ve only been digging for a couple of weeks, so a lot of what we are going to find is unclear, but I can say for sure that all of my experiences with CAP have really prepared me for what I’ve been here. I’m used to being on the digging side of things, but here I was entrusted to managing my own section of the excavation. This means that I have to use everything I’ve learned with CAP to make sure everything is perfect in regards to correct archaeology. This includes setting up grid units, taking substantial field notes, and directing my crew in ways that will be most efficient to the excavation. Thankfully. Campus Archaeology has taught me everything I need to know, and I will forever be thankful for the time I got to spend with CAP. As for future plans, I’ll be applying to graduate school while in Mexico, and I hope to be entering a graduate program in the fall of 2015.