Teaching Archaeology with Campus Trash

Author(s): Robert Muckle

Year: 2015


Student participation in campus trash audits connects to multiple principles of curricular reform articulated by the the SAA, including making them aware of basic methodological and cognitive skills used by archaeologists, real-world problem solving, and becoming effective communicators. Their physical participation helps convey field and laboratory skills. Having them draw behavioral inferences from trash provides experience in cognitive skills of interpretation. Results of trash audits can be used to signficantly reduce waste, improve recycling, and increase campus sustainability, making the real-world problem solving aspect of archaeology clear. At Capilano University, the trash audit is a theme that runs through the Introduction to Archaeology course, incorporated into course components on rationalizing archaeology; research design; field and lab methods; reconstructing behavior, and the archaeology of contemporary times. Students have a prefatory orientiation on how the waste audit works. On the day of the audit, students work in 90 minute shifts sorting 100 percent of the accumulation of the trash from the previous day. Students write a report in standard scientific format, including background, methods, results, and discussion. Feedback from students has generally been positive.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Teaching Archaeology with Campus Trash. Robert Muckle. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396609)