Dickinson College
For Release: January 13, 2005 Printer-friendly version Email this release

College Receives $400K Grant from W.M. Keck Foundation

Dickinson College has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation for the W.M. Keck Center for the Study of Human Origins, a groundbreaking initiative to develop scientific, inquiry-based teaching and learning in the interdisciplinary fields of archaeology and anthropology.

"The Keck Foundation recognizes Dickinson College as a leader in developing innovative, hands-on learning opportunities for students," says Provost and Dean Neil Weissman. "Biological anthropology and archaeology offer opportunities for new pedagogy that brings together students from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. This initiative continues Dickinson's mission of bringing education in the arts and sciences to bear on compelling issues."

One key component of the W.M. Keck Center for the Study of Human Origins will be a new and expanded archaeology classroom/laboratory. It will provide students with the space and tools to gain direct experience in simulated excavations, up-to-date site mapping, stratigraphy, artifact analyses and sophisticated computer models.

Most importantly, the archaeology faculty will be able to immerse students in field work and laboratory research both independently and in student-faculty collaboration, integrating summer field work at digs in Scotland and Greece with lab work and field training in a pioneering curriculum.

The second major component of the center will be a new classroom/laboratory designed to enhance the anthropology curriculum, especially courses that train students in research methods.

This new area for anthropology will enable faculty members to transform existing anthropology offerings into laboratory-based courses focused on problem-centered learning. There will be new computers and software, digital camera equipment, scanners, digitizing tablets and more traditional equipment to clean, measure and store artifacts. Like the archaeology students, the anthropology scholars will have the opportunity to carry out up-to-date site mapping and artifact analyses.

The Keck grant also includes funding for faculty development and a "smart classroom" devoted primarily to modules within courses that involve data analysis, site mapping and digital modeling. This space will be equipped with data projectors and network connections, making the use of computers, video, CD and DVD technology as easy as possible during classes.

The new labs and classroom will be located in renovated space in Dickinson's Denny Hall.

Dickinson is already a leader in archaeology as the only undergraduate college or university in the world that conducts research and excavation at the world-famous archaeological landmark of Mycenae. While it is unusual to have an archaeology major at an undergraduate college, it is unique that the students have the choice of two international sites at which to dig - the other site, at East Lothian, Scotland, is a joint project with the University of Durham, England.

"Our vision for these changes in archaeology and anthropology is to take our programs to a new level of excellence, enabling them to serve as a model for undergraduate institutions across the nation," explains Weissman.

The W.M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Co., with the goal of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity and the belief that a high-quality, well-rounded college education is vital for tomorrow's leaders. Its grants for undergraduate science & engineering and liberal arts programs promote innovative instruction and research at undergraduate colleges across the nation. Since 1979, the foundation has made grants totaling more than $1 billion. The Foundation in 1999 awarded Dickinson a $1 million grant to equip the new Tome Scientific Building, which houses the departments of Mathematics & Computer Science and Physics & Astronomy.

A highly-selective, national liberal arts college of nearly 2,300 students, Dickinson is located in south central Pennsylvania and has been honored for its innovative curriculum and international education programs, including ranking third in the nation overall for study abroad by the Open Doors 2004 report and a note by NAFSA: Association of International Educators that the college was one of six institutions in the country that has best internationalized its campus. In September 1783, six days after the Treaty of Paris was signed, Dickinson became the first college chartered in the newly recognized nation.

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