Paper No. 32-16
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
APPROACHES TO INTERDISCIPLINARY GRADUATE EDUCATION: TRAINING IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES
Effective training in interdisciplinary research is recognized as an important approach to graduate education. This is reflected in funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through programs such as the NSF Research Traineeship and, previously, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship. Here we analyze and evaluate approaches to graduate education in the historical sciences--such as geoarchaeology/environmental archaeology/archaeological science, paleontology, and historical ecology--that provide training combining concepts and methods from multiple fields of study. This approach is not new to the historical sciences. For instance, Butzer (1975, Am. Antiquity 40(1):106-111) includes an appraisal of graduate training aimed at an interdisciplinary ecological understanding of the human past. In terms of the structure and content of this training, many approaches have been tried. For instance, the U Minnesota developed both an Interdisciplinary Archaeological Studies graduate program and a minor in Quaternary Paleoecology providing students with training in the techniques and approaches from different areas that could be applied to their research, with faculty holding appointments from several departments. Some institutions have developed interdisciplinary oriented departments or schools, such as the School of Geography, Archaeology, and Palaeoecology at Queen’s U, Belfast; School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at U Witwatersand; or Dept. of Earth and Environmental Systems, Indiana State U. There are also examples of formalized interdisciplinary training at the master’s level such as: Quaternary science and geoarchaeology (Centre of Quaternary Science & Geoarchaeology consortium), programs in paleontology/paleobiology (South Dakota School of Mines, U Valencia, U Bristol, U Southhampton), and environmental archaeology or geoarchaeology (U Reading, U College London, U Sheffield, Boston U, U Rhode Island). In the United States, interdisciplinary training in geoarchaeology is most often coordinated through departments of Anthropology, Geology (Geoscience), or Geography, while training broadly defined as historical ecology or conservation paleoecology often is also linked to departments of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology.