Dr. Kate Frederick, a recent MSU graduate, worked with Campus Archaeology for two years, where she says she gained wide range of skills sets. She stated that though she had a decade of archaeological experience, there was a steep learning curve in the role of a CAP Fellow due to the diversity in job duties, including cultural resource management, public outreach, and digital humanities. Her reflection upon her time as a fellow highlights public engagement via social media and public outreach events. Check out our Q&A with Dr. Frederick to see why she believes public engagement is such an important component of Campus Archaeology, as well as some of her favorite memories and contributions to the program.

Q: What years were you a Campus Archaeologist?

A: I was a CAP Fellow from August 2013 to August 2015.

cap cafe

Q: What were the major projects that you worked on/with fellows on?

A: In terms of construction projects, I oversaw the Phase III and Phase IV of the steam tunnel reconstruction. It was during the third phase that we found the original Vet Lab, and during the final phase that we discovered the privy near the MSU Museum. In terms of other projects, I instituted the Apparitions and Archaeology tour. I thought it would be a fun way to talk about the history of MSU. I also started the CAP Café, a casual archaeology lecture.

Q: What was the most important thing you got out of CAP?

A: The power of social media and public outreach. I learned that archaeology cannot thrive as a discipline without public engagement. If we do not disseminate the importance of archaeology and stewardship to the public through outreach programs and social media, then we are shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot.

Q: In what ways did CAP make you more marketable when searching for a job?

A: Because the Campus Archaeologist wears many hats, I learned several valuable skills that I’ve found useful in my jobs since. CAP taught me to be flexible in the field and to juggle several projects at a time. In a single day, a Campus Archaeologist can go from shovel testing a series of sidewalks in the morning, to archival research in the afternoon, and ending with a campus tour.

Q: How did the skills and knowledge gained in CAP help you in your job now?

A: Before becoming Campus Archaeologist I was a social media minimalist. I quickly learned not only how to productively utilize social media platforms, but also how integral social media can be to public engagement.

CAP crew working side by side with the construction crew.

Q: What was your biggest challenge as a Campus Archaeologist?

A: The biggest task as Campus Archaeologist is captivating an unwillingly captivated audience; the construction workers. An integral aspect of the position of Campus Archaeologist is explaining why CAP is important. This is most often done in front of an audience of construction workers that are required to listen, but definitely don’t want to listen. Getting on my soap box and explaining why it’s important we halt construction for a few days so we can excavate an historic privy, does not captivate the audience. Telling workers that we’re going to delay their deadline because we found some cool ceramics is a tough pill to swallow when it means late night and earlier mornings for the workers who now need to make up that time delay. Construction workers are the first eyes on the archaeology. They have the power to call us or just inform us after the fact; obviously, our goal is the former. Because we run the risk of being seen as a nuisance, we have to instill a sense of stewardship in the construction workers. We have to show the value in our work through the big picture.

Q: What was your favorite part or memory of CAP (highlights)?

A: My favorite aspect of being Campus Archaeologist was becoming intimately familiar with MSU and its history. I started at MSU as an undergrad in 2004, then continued my graduate career here in 2011. I bleed green. It was always exciting to uncover some little known or long forgotten piece of MSU’s history.

We would like to thank Dr. Frederick for taking the time to answer questions about her time as an MSU Campus Archaeologist. She truly reveals her love of public engagement in a way that encourages future archaeologists to consider ways in which they can disseminate information to the general public in a captivating manner.


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