Looking In and Reaching Out: Becoming a Public Archaeologist
As a proponent of public archaeology, I find myself propelled toward commitments, ideas, events, and…
Do I say this every year? There seems to be more public archaeology at #SHA2015 than ever before. Without a strategy in place, there’s a lot that can be missed. Follow the guide below which will lead you to #PubArch happenings at the conference. This post is organized by PEIC sponsored sessions (1-5) followed by excellent additional offerings beyond the PEIC (6-10) in order from the conference program. I provided lots of links in headings and text, so use ’em!
THUR 1:30-3:30 pm Redwood A Archaeologists and conservators working with the local community unite in this panel to address environmental impacts to archaeological sites including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, sea level rise mudslides and more. To encourage discussion before and after the conference the EnvArch Facebook Group was created with introductions by panelists and case studies linked on the feed. Come with your own case studies, best practice questions, and queries for future training. Theater holds 125 so help up fill it up!
2. Public Education and Interpretation Committee Meeting
FRI 8:00-9:00 AM Diamond A Join other public education and interpretation minded archaeologists at the PEIC meeting Friday morning. Full agenda of topics including future conference sessions and reports on National Council of Social Studies, Archaeologists for Autism, International Archaeology Day, and future collaborations with the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse (SHA, SAA, and AIA join venture). Some sessions start at 8:30 but please come for the minutes you are able. As always, wake up calls are free! (dm @semiller88)
SAT 10 AM-12 PM Issaquah Room Steve Dasovich has assembled a fine panel featuring Larry Zimmerman and PEIC members Bernard Means, SHA Board Memeber Della Scott-Ireton, and PEIC Chair Sarah Miller to tackle not just increasing K-12 archaeology education opportunities, but refining strategy by understanding policy. This panel builds on a previous post to the blog (Archaeology Education at the Crossroads) featuring both Steve and Sarah’s experiences at the St. Louis National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) conference in 2013 and recent trends in increasing professional development of heritage educators. What Steve noticed at NCSS was that all teachers are using archaeology in their classroom, they just misunderstand what archaeology is and need assistance labeling what they are often already doing as archaeology.
SAT 1:30-3:30 PM Ravenna B Ideas to take home! In rapid-fire form public archaeologists from all corners of the country will bring in their activity show-and-tell with Q&A discussion to follow the presentations. Activities can be used in classroom but are especially useful for festival tables and other informal audience veues.
SAT 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM Burke Museum Hosted in partnership with SHA, the Center for Wooden Boats, Edmonds Community College, the National Park Service, and the Suquamish Tribe, the Public day is always a great opportunity to learn about local sites and get new activity ideas to take home. Post your “scuba selfie” to @SHA_org and let them know how important it is to reach out to local communities.
***Beyond the PEIC organized sessions there are some excellent symposiums and panels with emphasis on sharing archaeology with the public.***
THUR 9 AM-10:45 AM Metropolitan A Public archaeologists: don’t reinvent the wheel in terms of theory and practice! We can look to what are colleagues are up to and borrow from them. The “them” in this case are Public Historians. How can we make stronger connections with these specialists (public history educators, park historican, museum managers, oral historians) and what lessons can we learn from their experience.
THUR 10:30 AM-12 PM Cedar A Best. Title. Ever. Just for the name alone, you gotta go. Experience the cross sections between DIY aspects of punk and how public archaeology functions. Beyond the playful title I’m intrigued by the organizers’ association with punk rock to political change and how this plays out for heritage educators.
***Let me preface- I do not envy you the choice you have to make Thursday afternoon. I’ll be in #EnvArch panel so will miss most of these, but you can be there and tweet for others who can not be present themselves***
SAT 1:30-5:00 PM Grand Ballroom A It’s fun to follow #DigMontpelier throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog (Archaeology Department Heads to Seattle). If you’ve never been to James Madison’s Montpelier, take advantage of this opportunity to learn from these 12 papers about five different Montpelier sites. Multiple analysis–ceramics, labor, small finds, floral and faunal–will lead to their approach in interpretating these data sets to the public.
The Montpelier Archaeology Director Matt Reeves is also involved in symposium early Friday morning, “Building Consensus: Archaeologists and Metal Detectorists working towards a Common Goal.” This is an important session given the tension archaeologists and metal detectorists experience, particularly due to reality shows of years past. I’m looking forward to constructive conversations and all the points of view they are bringing to the table with this forum: Doug Scott, Wade Catts, Michelle Sivilich, Linda Stine, SHA President Charlie Ewen, metal detectorist, and Montpelier’s Expedition Member Scott Clark. Look for the National Trust’s Preservation Magazine article next month to feature the Montpelier metal detecting project. The session will be held at 8:30 am Friday morning in Ravenna A.
THUR 1:30-4:15 PM Willow A As an archaeologist on land it’s always a good idea to check in with our colleagues from the sea. Their unique perspective into training and working with avocationals, citizen science approach to survey, and promoting history that is too often loved to death always presents a high level of best practices, often with great humor.
THUR 1:30-4:30 PM Metropolitan B One of the most important things the public learns from #PubArch programs is often overlooked, that there are these people called archaeologists and they have jobs and they are part of a large industry. In addition to providing stats on our profession by the numbers, this session also includes environmental issues that will be brought up during the #EnvArch panel, such as James Gibb’s paper on environmental archaeology and public policy as well as Morgan MacKenzie’s paper on Hurrican Sandy and the New Jersey Waterway Debris Removal Project. Oh to be in two sessions at once!
Don’t see the session you are in listed? Give it a plug below! Don’t forget to join and contribute to #PubArch discussions on Twitter. The Heritage Education conference hosted by the Archaeology Institute of America in New Orleans unfortunately coincides with SHA. Let’s bring these subjects to audiences outside of Seattle and continue to develop the profession of public archaeology.
Text: Sarah E. Miller, PEIC Chair
Images: #EnvArch thumnails emergency collections, Iceland dig, Ocklawaha flooding, Washington mudslide, Historical Ecology for Risk Management, PEIC flier by Sarah Miller, Public Day flier by staff of the Burke Museum.