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Surviving Climate Change

13,000 year old American mastodon remains excavated by Professor Tankersley at Big Bone Lick.

13,000 year old American mastodon remains excavated by Professor Tankersley at Big Bone Lick.

Big Bone Lick Park

Prof. Ken Tankersley expounds upon a dig (blue tarp) at Big Bone Lick. The river disturbs the stratigraphy with its meanders.

Surviving Climate Change: Field Methods in Midwest Archaeology (6 credit hours)



Monday, May 6 - Friday, June 21 2013 FIRST HALF SUMMER SEMESTER

The main objective of Surviving Climate Change is to empower students with an understanding of interdisciplinary field research on climate change. Students will develop the skills needed to conduct archaeological and paleontological excavations. Additionally, the course will provide students with an opportunity to gain an integrated multidisciplinary approach to climate change research, inclusive of anthropology, education, geology, paleontology, and Quaternary science.

The course will create a unique opportunity to help forge key relationships and partnerships, especially between UC, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Kentucky State Parks, and the Kentucky Geological Survey.

This innovative course focuses on human and non-human species (plant and animal) response to climate change and how paleoenvironmental data are recovered in the field, studied in the laboratory and museum, and presented in public venues. This class will be a 100% hands-on, learn-by-doing, field experience. Surviving Climate Change will use a pedagogical approach that incorporates collaborative methods, and transformative solution-oriented outcomes by bringing together students and faculty from multiple disciplines. Specifically, Surviving Climate Change will be a course that uses interdisciplinary field methods. The course will introduce students to archaeological, paleoenvironmental, paleontological, and other Quaternary science field techniques, outlining the benefits of using interdisciplinary methods to interpret species responses to climate change. Students will participate in the survey and excavation of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, which contains the remains of plants and animals that survived the last major episode of rapid and profound global climate change. Students will be involved in all phases of field excavation, trained in laboratory and museum curation processing, and public education. Students will be encouraged to critically examine how interdisciplinary knowledge about species response to climate change is constructed and expressed. During the summer students will be involved in all phases of field excavation, trained in lab processing, and encouraged to critically examine how archaeological and paleontological knowledge is constructed and expressed. The course focuses on human and non-human adaptation to climate change, and how such contexts are excavated, but also provides a solid introduction to how archaeological and paleontological sites are excavated and how archaeologists and paleontologists investigate and interpret prehistory.


To find out more, contact:

Prof. Ken Tankersley (A&S, Anthropology)

Prof. Aaron Diefendorf (A&S, Geology)

Prof. Brooke Crowley (A&S, Geology and Anthropology)

Prof. Linda Plevyak (CECH, Curriculum and Instruction)


This research is related to a UC Research Interdisciplinary award won in 2012: Extinction and Education: Documenting and Analyzing Late Pleistocene Chronostratigraphy and Paleoenvironment of Big Bone Lick, State Park.

Watch the video below to see Ken Tankersley and his students at work during the 2013 summer field season! The excavations were also covered in the Lexington Herald and UC News.

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