CSUN’s Center for Public Archaeology is figuring out ways to help support students with job opportunities within their field. It’s an institute that conducts academic and contract research, provides educational programs and has a large collection of materials that focuses on the field of archaeology.
“We don’t do dinosaurs. We’re interested in people,” said Matthew Des Lauriers, director of the Center for Public Archaeology and second-year tenure track assistant anthropology professor. “We obtain contracts from government agencies and private entities and assist them in complying with federal and state legislation in impact reports. We help them evaluate, examine and mitigate any potential impacts to cultural and historical resources.”
During the summer, the program offered an archaeology field school in the Angelus National Forest and in the Santa Cruz Islands, where students that took part earned three to six units.
“We train the students that take this course to attain skills for employment (in the field of archaeology),” Des Lauriers said.? Twelve students participated in the project and were able to do excavations.
Graduate student Mikael Fauvelle said, “It was a useful experience.? It was really great to be involved in actual archaeology. We were able to be part of one of the first excavations in the central valley.”
“We gained first hand experience, and practiced theories that applied to research,” anthropology major Lisa Smith said. “We learned surveying techniques as well as lab techniques.”
Students are now analyzing the samples that were gathered from the Santa Cruz Islands here on campus.
“It’s like an extended project,” Fauvelle said.
“(De Lauriers) convinced me to do the field school, and then I just kept doing it,” said Meghan Barge, a recent graduate student. “The Center for Public Archaeology allowed me to do lab work,” Barge said, something she likes to do.
“I got a slight taste of it and now I can’t leave. It was just that much fun. It was very hands on. I gained a lot of experience, and it wasn’t even my intention,” she said.
The Center for Public Archaeology also aids students in networking.
“I got in contact with another archaeologist through Dr. Des Lauriers,” Barge said. She may have an internship in which she will be doing laboratory work and said, “I have the opportunity to do exactly what I want to do.”
Now, the Center for Public Archaeology has a contract with a Marine Base on Twentynine Palms, CA. The project is estimated to take place between late October and early November. Both undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to participate on the project. Des Lauriers said it’s good for students to become involved with because they have the opportunity to gain experience and earn some money on the side as well.?
“Our obligation to our students is applied dimension and academic research,” Des Lauriers said.
Des Lauriers emphasized the importance of being experienced. He said that 80 percent of archaeologists employed in the U.S. work in Cultural Resource Management, a vocation that the center specializes in.
“It’s essential for us to have this. Our department program is applied focus and its effective training for employment,” said Des Lauriers.
“The most effective means of activities for our success as a program is the ability of our students to go out into the real world and get jobs for which they trained,” he said. “(We want to) achieve our goal of being student centered, actively engaged with the community and recognized for academic research.”
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