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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423

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Archaeology 2255: The Archaeology and Paleoecology of Coastal and Island Environments

Class Meetings: Rhode Island Hall 008, Wednesday 3:00-5:20

Professor: John M. Marston


Office Phone: (401) 863-6231

Office Hours: Rhode Island Hall Room 007, TBD

Link to Course Syllabus: Course Syllabus

Course Description: In 2008, more than half of the US population lived within 50 miles of its coasts, which constitutes only 17% of the land area of the continental US (NOAA 2008). As many as 6 billion people may live within 200 km of coastlines worldwide by 2025 (Population Reference Bureau 2003). Projections now considered conservative anticipate an 18-59 cm rise in sea levels by 2100, threatening many coastal areas (IPCC 2007). Why do people continue to migrate to threatened coastal habitats? What are the unique social, economic, and environmental characteristics of coastal environments that make them so attractive today? Did these same factors affect human population dispersal in the past? What are the effects of human settlement on islands and in coastal environments, past and present? How do societies adapt or fail to adapt to changing coastal environments? Is coastal living sustainable?

This graduate seminar takes a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to these questions and applies the lessons of the past to the challenges of the present through an explicitly diachronic approach to human-environmental interaction in coastal settings. It is open to graduate students in anthropology, archaeology, demography, ecology, environmental studies, history, paleoenvironmental sciences, and public policy who wish to adopt a cross-cultural, data-driven perspective on the history of human settlement in coastal and island environments. Our goal is to learn from one another through critical reading of literature from multiple academic fields and engaged discussion with seminar participants from multiple disciplinary backgrounds.

In addition, this course will allow you to enhance core professional academic skills: abstracting and synthesizing long texts, presenting research in a conference paper format, writing an article manuscript, and peer-reviewing article manuscripts. Professional academic writing is a focus of this class and you will have the opportunity to write a journal article manuscript and peer critique one another’s manuscripts through a formal, anonymous review process.