Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mammal March Madness!

This week members of the Anthropological community have come together to have a little fun with march madness...mammal style. Mammal March Madness is organized by a team of individuals (led by Professor Katie Hinde at Harvard) from various universities who have been able to create a scientific version of a game typically centered around college basketball. We came together to choose brackets, where a variety of strategies were used in order to make a winning bracket. Some did heavy research, weighing all the options, whereas others simply chose the cutest creature. Since the initial event, we have been avidly checking the blog and twitter account in order to update our standings. An incredible amount of time and research is done by the organizing group in order to determine which mammal would win each round depending on environment as well as strengths and weaknesses of the species.

Many thanks to Katie Hinde for Skyping into the event where we chose our brackets.

The QU winners that ultimately have the best bracket will have a choice of incredible mammal-themed prizes!  Who wouldn't love these prizes?!

And the winner is.....Matt Capece with a total of 154 points!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Semester in Review - Fall 2014

 Kyle Joyce'16 and Madeline Hardy'15 work on cleaning teeth from the BAKOTA project that were collected by Professor Giblin during the summer.

On November 15th students from various anthropology classes got together for a cupcake social. They were asked to work together in teams to create a poster conveying anthropological concepts such as cultural relativism. SAR members helped facilitate the event and judge which poster was the most creative as well as accurate, the winners received cool anthropological themed prizes. 

On November 19th Professor Giblin and some of her students from the AN300 class ventured to  Farm River State Park in order to explore and gain an understanding of the environment. After visiting the park, students worked together to raise awareness for the protection of this park that is essentially run by Quinnipiac University.

On December 4th students from the AN300 Ancient Food for Thought displayed their newly acquired knowledge by hosting a trivia table in the student center. Students passing by were able to try their luck at questions geared around the foods of the New England Native Americans in order to win yummy treats such as popcorn, maple candies, and sassafras.

The Bad, The Good, and The Great!

Addressing Campus Rape
One of the wonderful aspects of teaching at Quinnipiac is we are provided with opportunities to offer courses on current topics that directly impact our students’ lives.  This fall, Quinnipiac students have a chance to take a course on a topic that has dominated the media of late: campus rape. 

The bad news: we know campus rape is a huge issue, impacting thousands of lives. We are learning more about the problem as it occurs on campuses large and small, private and public, in fraternities and with athletes, and across the general student population. We all know the statistics by now—one in four students will experience some form of sexual assault or harassment in his/her time in college. We know that in the past universities have been more inclined to sweep the problem under the rug than address it, and victims were more likely to be blamed for what happened, than supported and have their experience treated like a serious crime.  A new documentary, The Hunting Ground exposes the problems of rape on college campuses and how poorly universities have handled the issue.

The good news: the problem of campus rape is finally getting the attention it deserves. The Obama administration, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, and other federal entities have all increased and improved their efforts to address this serious issue.  Universities have stepped up their game as well, creating advocate positions, opening women’s centers, offering bystander training, and generating more awareness about the policies protecting students from acts of harassment and other forms of violence.

The great news: Quinnipiac is lucky to have many committed faculty, staff and administrators who have started a collaborative conversation about the problem of campus rape and are working together to bring about changes in our community.  The Addressing Campus Rape course is a part of that effort, to use the methods of positive activism and social science theory and methods to identify the problem and suggest solutions.  We are hosting a screening of The Hunting Ground on October 21, 2015, and we are excited to work with student organizations in an effort to have open dialogue around an issue important to everyone in a college community.  Working together we anticipate we will make Quinnipiac a model of how a college responds to, and ultimately prevents, the abuse of any member of our community.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brooklyn Museum Trip

Dr. Tracy Betsinger joined the Society for Anthropological Research on our first trip! We went to the Brooklyn Museum to visit their mummy chamber and enjoyed a Middle Eastern lunch-Jirina

Monday, March 2, 2015

Society for Anthropological Research Host GEMS

On February 20th members of Quinnipiac University’s Society for Anthropological Research hosted 25 students from Bethany Community School’s Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) Club. The GEMs students rotated through three stations equipped with field manuals and skeleton pencils, learning about different aspects of both archeological and biological anthropology. Digging through sand boxes, inspecting bones, and rearranging skulls allowed the young girls to discover a new interest in the anthropological field and be exposed to concepts such as material culture, human evolution, and stratigraphy. The event was a great success as the enrichment teacher, Michelle Schwenger, who advises the GEMS Club remarked how impressed she was with the volunteers ability to keep the students engaged despite it being a Friday and all of the students had already endured a long full day of school. Schwenger also commented in saying that the Quinnipiac students volunteering and running the stations were such "role models" for the students and the "GEMS club members enjoy[ed] being with them", most likely wanted to "strive to be like them." With such a compliment it is clear that the event was quite the success and SAR looks forward to do this type of event with the GEMs in the future. 

Click the link to find out more about the event : QU PR for GEMS Event

MAT Students help facilitate the excavation station, demonstrating the thought process of digging, finding, and categorizing the material culture found in the sandboxes.
The lovely volunteers prepping for the event before the students arrive.

Eboard members of the Society for Anthropological Research help facilitate the evolution station by describing the different features of the various skulls displayed for the students.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Addressing Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in Anthropology and Beyond

Recently there has been increased attention by the media and the federal government to the high rates of sexual assault and rape on college and university campuses. As a scholar of gender-based violence, I welcome this attention and the increased scrutiny of the ways men and women relate to one another; the institutional procedures in place to prevent violence in the first place; and the question of whether or not universities are equipped to adjudicate cases of sexual violence and rape as outlined by the Department of Education’s Title IX.  These are all important issues to consider as employees and students of institutions of higher education, and what implications our institutional approach to addressing sexual violence will have for the wider culture.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA), under the guidance of Principal Investigator Dr. Jennifer R. Wies of Eastern Kentucky University, has taken the important step of investigating the scope and scale of sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by its members, whether they are undergraduate students, professors, or practitioners in non-academic settings. With over 12, 000 members, the AAA is the largest professional organization for anthropologists, and it has a long and distinguished history. It also exists in a cultural context where sexual violence and harassment are rife, and many AAA members have reported instances of abuse and violence in their institutional settings, laboratories, and off-campus fieldsites in other studies.

It is a great privilege to be asked by Dr. Wies to participate in the AAA project to study the rates of sexual violence and sexual harassment amongst the membership.  This is an opportunity to investigate the university and college settings where members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) study and work, including Quinnipiac University.  The purpose of the AAA sponsored research is to identify the levels of sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by members of the AAA in their university settings, classrooms, workplaces, laboratories, and of-campus fieldsites (local and international). Once we obtain baseline data on the rates of violence experienced by our members, we will identify the level of knowledge members have about institutional procedures and policies in place to address sexual violence and harassment.  Are AAA members working and studying in settings where the following questions can be addressed: Is the information about Title IX readily accessible on the university website? Can students and employees access help and resources via the website or some other portal? Are there publicly announced and regularly held trainings and educational seminars on sexual violence and harassment? Does the university provide prolific educational materials in the form of brochures, posters, and social media to make students and employees aware of their rights and responsibilities? Is there a trained victim advocate on campus, and is this advocate’s presence well publicized and highlighted to students and employees? How active is the university in seeking out the expertise of campus scholars who study sexual violence and harassment, and utilizing their expertise as a resource? How active is the upper administration in messaging the importance of preventing rape, sexual assault and harassment on campus?

These are questions that are not only important for AAA members to have the answers to, but any prospective college student and his/her parents.  While the ultimate goal should be to become a society where rape is outright eliminated, in the meantime people have a right to know how their institution is working to prevent violence as well as how the institution support the victims if violence occurs. 

Culture shifts occurs when people are active agents of change: the more we address, name, and identify the problem, the more likely it is that people will work against it.  Colleges and universities have for too long hid the problem of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and that tactic hasn’t been successful in ending the violence. It is time to try something different.

n.b. It is important to acknowledge that rape and harassment are crimes that affect all segments of the population, not just elite college students. While the AAA study specifically identifies experiences of its members, the research team is staffed by scholars whose work focuses on gender-based violence in diverse populations, in the United States and overseas.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update from the field

Hi everyone! This summer I am participating in my second season as a team member of the Bronze Age Körös Off-Tell Archaeology Project (BAKOTA). This archaeological research team aims to explore social organization, trade, and mobility during the Bronze Age in Eastern Hungary.  The team is led by Paul Duffy (University of Toronto), Györgyi Parditka (National Centre for Cultural Heritage, Hungary), Julia Giblin (Quinnipiac University) and Laci Paja (National Centre for Cultural Heritage), and they have brought together a range of specialists and students from all different places to explore a prehistoric cemetery called Békés 103.  The site is located on farmland in the small town of Békés right in between sunflower and cornfields.  It is split into about 5 zones spread out over what is believed to be a huge Bronze Age cemetery.  It is a veritably surreal experience to be able to touch artifacts that have been in the ground for about 3700 years.

Site map showing potential excavation areas.
We are now 4 weeks into the field season, and starting the process off was shovel tests, which serve as a testing process to see what is below the surface.  We dig a small hole about a spade’s length down to see if there is any cultural material below the surface (like ceramic), and it usually measures to about 10 liters. This was followed by then clearing out trenches to a depth of about 35-45 centimeters, which clears away the plough zone.  The plough zone is the layer of earth that gets mixed up by a plow, so we need to clear that away to get to the next layer.  At the bottom of the plough zone we found urns and clusters of bone, which is undoubtedly exciting.  During this time period and in this region a common burial custom was to cremate the dead and bury them inside large ceramic vessels. The next step to take during this season was to excavate these burials and then bring them to the lab for micrexcavation of the material inside the urns.  As we collect materials and record findings we take a lot of notes because this is where comparisons and identifications arise, so it is important to write down as many details as possible like position, color, quantity, and decorative details on pottery. 

A job that I have been entrusted with is being in charge of organizing and keeping track of all the artifacts that come into the lab at the end of the day, so I get to see everything!  This includes pottery, bone, stone, bronze, and anything else collected.  As material starts pouring in it is very beneficial to be surrounded by all the specialists because everyone brings something new to the table.  Together the pieces of this prehistoric puzzle can become clearer, as the identification and classification of materials are recognized.  For example, we have Dori, an artist and ceramic specialist who draws the maps, reconstructs vessels, and in turn draws them for publications.  She looks at the differences in pottery like the designs or the construction of the vessel, and can compare the results to regions of surrounding areas where it is common to find the same type.  We also have a biological anthropologist, Laci Paja, who can identify all the bone that is found either in an urn or scattered in the field, and trace the age or maybe even the sex of the individual. 

So far in the season we have had a lot of material come into the lab with about 13 burials uncovered.  The ceramic that we have been weighing and counting has had some amazing details still recognizable.  There is a common decoration of two raised edges in circles around the whole urn paired along with spirals, triangular points, and sometimes three little dots.   

Laci teaching students Micro excavation

Urn found at the bottom of the plough zone

So, after entering in all of the different artifacts into the database, which houses all of the field season’s information, next I have been organizing all of the materials.  Ceramic from the same burial will be grouped together along with the bone from that specific burial also with all other materials getting organized by name in general boxes.  There is a lot of organization and labeling that goes into the lab portion of the field season because keeping the record accurate and easily accessible is important. 
Throughout the season I really get to understand the process of excavations, the details noted, and the care taken in dealing with past humans.  I have learned that there is a lot to consider when uncovering past human behaviors and artifacts, and that we can never truly know everything.   Archaeologists try and explain as much as the possible can with accuracy, and I have gained an appreciation for taking the time to do things right, be ethically conscious, and giving 110 percent all the time for the things that you love.  I have been fortunate enough to get to spend six weeks doing what I love with professionals, and learning more and more everyday.

Me spraying down an Urn for documentation