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These principles are: (1) Foster stewardship by making explicit the proposition that archaeological resources are nonrenewable and finite; (2) Foster understanding that archaeological remains are endowed with meaning, and that archaeologists are not the sole proprietors or arbitrators of that meaning because there are diverse interests in the past that archaeologists study. Archaeologists, therefore, share their knowledge with many diverse audiences and engage these audiences in defining the meaning and direction of their projects; (3) Recognize diverse interests in the past; (4) Promote awareness of the social relevance of archaeological data and its interpretations; (5) Infuse the curriculum with professional ethics and values that frame archaeological practice; (6) Develop fundamental liberal arts skills in written and oral communication and computer literacy; and (7) Develop fundamental disciplinary skills in fieldwork and laboratory analysis and promote effective learning via the incorporation of problem solving, either through case studies or internships (Bender 2000).
In considering archaeological resources, students need to understand the nonrenewable nature of archaeological sites and associated material. The information content of such material and value of the data in interpreting and understanding human behavior should be emphasized. Once the information has been removed from the ground, whether through archaeological excavation or as a result of looting, development, erosion, or other processes, the site itself is gone. When archaeological investigations are conducted, the information from the ground is transformed into archaeological data in the form of collections, records, and reports that are used to interpret and explain the past.
As part of this discussion, the damage caused by looting sites and trafficking artifacts should be presented in the context of the loss of information and ability to interpret the data. Examples of looted sites such as Slack Farms or the impact of vandalism on many sites in the Southwest can be discussed. Students can evaluate the loss of information that has occurred as a result of these actions and what can now never be learned about these sites and the people who occupied them.
A third part of the discussion is explaining the conservation ethic, i.e., how the past can be preserved. Once students understand the value of the resources, and also their fragile nature, they need to examine methods of conservation. Conservation, or the wise use of resources, can include stabilizing an archaeological site, preserving it in place, excavation, or promoting public understanding of the information content of the resources through site development and interpretation. Examples of sites that have been the focus of conservation methods can be discussed (e.g., those developed sites such as Cahokia or Mesa Verde; ongoing site interpretation such as at Alexandria, Virginia; site protection through Site Stewards). In addition, it should also be noted that as part of the movement toward conservation, in recent years there has been an increase in the employment of archaeologists as cultural resource managers. This segment of the profession, now comprising over half of all employed archaeologists, emphasizes stewardship of the archaeological record. As part of this responsibility, archaeologists now work with many different sectors of the public to communicate the value and importance of archaeological data. Again, as part of this discussion, and appropriate for more advanced courses would be a discussion of preservation laws such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
2. Diverse Interests
In presenting archaeology courses to undergraduate students, the instructor should make students aware that archaeologists no longer have exclusive rights to the past, but that various publics have a stake in the past (Watkins et al. 2000). No one truly "owns" the past; rather, we all share common roots in that past which bear different fruits. Diverse groups such as descendant communities; state, local and federal agencies; and others (salvors, "metal detectors") compete for and have vested interests in the nonrenewable resources of the past. Students must also be made aware of basic preservation laws so that they may gain an understanding of the importance archaeology places on the protection of our common heritage. They should also be made aware that relationships can be enhanced through the development of partnerships with these diverse groups. By examining the ways that the products of the past have been used to further political and national interests, students can also be made aware of the social implications of our discipline. By recognizing that our differing views rise from common roots, we can understand the relationships we share, extend our influence beyond our individual reach, and unite to attain our common goals.
3. Social Relevance
If we are to justify archaeology's existence as a discipline—in terms of both public support and public interest—then we must effectively articulate the ways in which it benefits our society. In the past, archaeologists considered these benefits to be self-evident. Teachers simply presented the "substance" of our field and assumed that students would intuitively see its value. This complacent view can no longer govern the way archaeology is taught. Given the existence of diverse interests in the past (some of which may prefer to see archaeology disappear), those of us who teach archaeology in the twenty-first century must convey to our students why we believe that archaeology is important.
One way to convey archaeology's relevance to today's students is to highlight ways in which we can use the past to help us think productively about the present and the future. As we teach archaeology, particularly in introductory and large-enrollment courses, it is essential that we show our students how understandings gained from archaeology may be relevant to the issues we face today. For convenience, we may call this approach "Lessons from the Past." Here are some examples:
Discussing the role of environment on the development of past societies, including the effects of environmental degradation.
Discussing the history and role of warfare in relation to politics, economy, and other historical circumstances.
Discussing the history of cities and urban life and the many forms these took in the past.
Discussing how archaeological techniques can be applied directly in matters of public policy and the law, such as in the case of forensic studies (Bosnia) and the University of Arizona's "Garbage Project."
Discussing past systems of social inequality and drawing connections to and contrasts with the present.
Discussing the history of human health and disease.
4.Professional Ethics and Values
Articulation of ethics and values are seen as a sign of growth and maturation of the profession. The eight SAA Principles of Archeological Ethics are fundamental to how archeologists conduct themselves in relation to the resources, their data, their colleagues, and the public. The linking of these principles to specific lecture topics, or as individual lectures, will provide students with a basic foundation when establishing their interest in the study of cultural resources. The Register of Professional Archaeologists' Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance are a more detailed set of ethical behaviors relative to the specific practice of research. These statements provide direction and foundation for the practice of field archaeology and its consequences, and as such should be incorporated into presentations in upper-division classes.
Archaeology depends on the understanding and support of the public. For this to occur, archaeologists must communicate their goals, results, and recommendations clearly and effectively. Archaeology education must incorporate frequent training and practice in logical thinking as well as written and oral presentation. For any non-specialist audience, jargon inhibits understanding and makes it less likely that archaeological goals will be understood and supported. An archaeologist must be able to make a clear and convincing argument in public as well as professional contexts based on the analysis and interpretation of relevant information. Effective communication also includes mastery of standard tools like computers and the Internet, as well as the ability to interact cooperatively and effectively with others involved in producing a product or reaching a decision.
6. Basic Archaeological Skills
Students planning a career in archaeology need to have mastered a set of basic skills. At a conceptual level, these involve the ability to make pertinent observations of the archaeological record, to record and describe these observations, and to make appropriate inferences. Skills include basic principles of surveying and cartography (e.g., map-making and reading), stratigraphy (e.g., ability to draw accurately and interpret a soil profile), archaeological methods (e.g., ability to complete field and laboratory forms), database management (e.g., ability to create and use data tables), and technical writing (e.g., ability to write artifact, feature, and site descriptions).
7. Real-World Problem Solving
One of the most difficult things for undergraduates to do is to connect the classroom world and the real world. Helping students make this transition in the context of course work often drives home the main points and demonstrates applicability to their lives and professions. The essence of "real-world problem solving" is flexibility and grounding in the basics of archaeology. Students can be exposed to problem solving through classroom examples and observations of real situations. An important aspect of reality is communicating that archaeology is one of many interests that must be reconciled for projects to be completed successfully. Having students attend a session or meeting of a descendant population where archaeology is discussed will be an eye-opener. It is our public service responsibility as professors of archaeology to demonstrate through examples and assignments a basic understanding of how business, politics, and local community or bureaucracy works, as well as to foster an understanding of preservation laws and regulations. Archaeology outside the academy is usually done when it is part of a solution to a problem in construction and development, a disputed location of something, or planning to avoid a problem in the future. One way to expose students to this process is to have them attend a routine local city or county commission meeting or have politicians lecture to the class about the political process.
Bender, Susan J.2000 A Proposal to Guide Curricular Reform for the Twenty-First Century. In Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, pp. 31-48. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C.
Watkins, Joe, K. Anne Pyburn, and Pam Cressey2000 Community Relations: What the Practicing Archaeologist Needs to Know to Work Effectively with Local and/or Descendant Communities. In Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, pp. 73-91. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C.
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