Anthropology & Earth Science Learning Opportunities

MSUM's Anthropology & Earth Science diverse curriculum is enhanced by hands-on, immersive learning experiences, including a variety of advanced research labs for studying topics such as archaeology, environmental magnetism and geophysics, electron microprobe and ceramics, and a number of field courses offered at different locations in the U.S. and overseas. Field experience is a critical component of the program and is designed to provide students with a deeper exposure and understanding of their chosen discipline through practical, real-life training and education alongside their peers and professors. Students graduate from the program with a rich understanding of land and culture, and hands-on research and practical skills to excel in graduate school or their chosen career field.

MSUM’s Archaeology Lab has been involved in cultural resource management projects (such as surveys and excavations) since the 1970s, and provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience assisting with building a cultural sequence for the region. The Lab has been involved in small- and large-scale projects in North Dakota and Minnesota involving federal agencies, such as the Corps of Engineers; state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Transportation; and municipal levels, such as the city of Moorhead.

Many classes incorporate archaeological site tours into their syllabi to give you a first-hand look at the archeological record and significance of important historic sites throughout the area and region.

The Center for Geospatial Studies is one of three faculty-driven interdisciplinary centers selected for development at MSUM. The Center is committed to showcasing GIS in inspiring events, engaging learners, helping others use and build GIS infrastructure and establishing dynamic collaborations. It seeks to educate people to think spatially; train them to perform technically using geospatial technologies; and customize and serve data and conduct spatial analyses to inform regional decision-making.

The Anthropology and Earth Science Department regularly offers study tours that provide unique, immersive educational experiences. Sometimes these might be offered in collaboration with other departments or universities. Recent course tours included Health, Education, and Environment in Tanzania Today to explore the challenges of healthcare and education in this diverse and rapidly developing nation. MSUM also recently partnered with Tri-College University to discover the archaeology of Neolithic Greece while working at the ancient acropolis of Halai as part of the Cornell Halai and East Lokris Project (CHELP). The goal is always to make these programs as affordable as possible while offering upper-level anthropology credits.

The Dragon Anthropological Association is an organization for students interested in anthropology or other cultures, past and present. Find the Dragon Anthropological Association.

The Ethnography Lab is the home to the Prairie Nations Research Group. The Lab has numerous resources for a variety of research projects types, such as ethnohistorical research, geospatial ethnography, kinship studies, and Siouan, Algonquian, and Caddoan language studies.

You have the opportunity to conduct faculty-mentored research or your own research in a variety of areas: human-environment interactions, ethnomusicology, ceramic analysis, science education, medical anthropology, geographic information systems, and much more!

In addition to field experiences with geology of the region, as an Earth Science Education major you’ll also have opportunities for classroom field experiences, where you’ll spend time observing, assisting and teaching in local classrooms prior to your final semester of student teaching. As you’re immersed in classrooms of different grade levels and with varying teaching styles, you will be able to identify what type of classroom is the right fit for you.

A field school is a short-term program that gives you practical training of applying what you learned in the classroom into actual field work. These are typically intensive experiences that build strong relationships among peers and faculty mentors. Field school opportunities vary depending on current research interests of faculty or archaeological contracts. Recent field schools include Prairie and Woodland Native Nations, where students visited, researched and interacted with tribal administrators, members and elders from the Sauk Nation of Kansas and Nebraska, the Iowa Nation of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Meskwaki Nation of Iowa; and Meskwaki Ethnohistory Research Group to the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in East Central Iowa for cultural and linguistic presentations.

You’ll spend time observing, assisting and teaching in local classrooms for more than 100 hours prior to your student teaching experience, so you’ll be exceptionally prepared to lead your own classroom. Geology and other earth science fieldwork is also a critical component of the major. You may participate in multiple formal field experiences, including one-day and multi-day field trips to see regional geology, such as geology in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a tour of the world's largest Layered Intrusive Igneous Complex in Duluth, a tour of mining districts in northeast Minnesota, a tour of caves and geological parks in southern Minnesota, and elective multi-week field experiences in South Dakota and Wyoming. Other optional experiences include field work as part of research projects carried out with faculty.

The Geo Club provides an informal forum for students and others interested in Earth sciences to promote their interaction and to expand their opportunities for extracurricular learning.

You will work in well-equipped labs, including the experimental petrology, stratigraphy and thin-sectioning, and geophysical laboratories, and have the option to receive hands-on training with cutting-edge technology such as GPS equipment, GIS software, high precision GPS receivers, geospatial apps and drones.

  • Anthropology & Earth Science Library
    KH 223
  • Multimedia Ethnography Lab
    KH 102
    Directed by Dr. Erik Gooding
  • Archaeology Lab
    KH 115A
    Directed by Dr. Michael Michlovic
  • Electron Microprobe Lab
    KH 115B
    Directed by Dr. Russ Colson
  • Environmental Magnetism and Geophysics Lab
    KH 116
    Directed by Dr. Rinita Dalan
    The Environmental Magnetism and Geophysics Laboratory located in King Hall 116 houses soil sampling and geophysical remote sensing equipment for field studies as well as laboratory equipment for investigating the magnetic behavior of materials. The environmental magnetic laboratory is the first of its kind in this country dedicated to archaeological application.
  • Stratigraphy Lab
    KH 116C
    Directed by Dr. Karl Leonard
  • Advanced Geology Lab
    KH 118A
    Directed by Dr. Karl Leonard
  • Experimental Petrology Lab
    KH 118B-C
    Directed by Dr. Russ Colson
  • Intro Geology La
    KH 218
    Directed by Drs. Russ Colson and Karl Leonard
  • GIS Lab
    KH 216/215C
    Directed by Dr. Paul Sando
  • Ceramics Lab
    KH 231
    Directed by Dr. George Holley

The Prairie Nations Research Group (PNRG) is a faculty-led year-round opportunity for undergraduates to undertake individual and group directed and independent study research. Research focuses on cultural and linguistic projects relating to the indigenous peoples of the Western Great Lakes and Prairie regions of the Upper Midwest. Student research and student-faculty collaborations have been presented at MSUM’s Student Academic Conference, the Plains Anthropological Society Conference, the Algonquian Conference, and the Central States Anthropological Conference among others.

You will have the opportunity to present research and/or attend professional conferences at the local, regional and national level. Every year, many students present at MSUM’s Student Academic Conference. Other opportunities may include the American Association of Geographers, Geological Society of America, the Society for American Archaeology, the Plains Anthropological Society, the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium, the North Dakota Association for Women Geoscientists, the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference or the Council for Minnesota Archaeology among others.

MSUM is fortunate to be only 16 minutes from the Regional Science Center, approximately 400 acres of prairie, woods, and river communities, with an interpretive center and an observatory. The Science Center contains a unique setting of timber, water, stone and environmental habitats, where the Buffalo River met the expansive prairie of the Red River Valley, providing a focal point for native peoples of the region.