How Science Is Done: field schools


August 10, 2010

Field schools offer university level students an intensive, hands on way to sharpen their paleontological and archaeological knowledge.  Field schools are operated by academic institutions at working sites.  Students accepted at field school pay tuition, as a rule, and receive credit in equivalent classroom hours after a number of weeks' instruction in geology, mapping, searching for and cataloging fossils and artifacts.  Living conditions can be demanding, with great distances to the nearest "civilization", all supplies having to be trucked in, and sometimes under a blazing sun of an equitorial African summer.


The Institute of Human Origins, part of Arizona State University, conducts a biennial field school, odd numbered years, at Hadar, Ethiopia, the site where the famous three million year old Australopithecus afarensis "Lucy" was found. The Hadar Field School runs for approximately eight weeks,  from the end of September to mid November and awards 12 hours for successful completion.


Rutgers operates a field school at Koobi Foora, Kenya and IHO also has a small field school underway at present on the Atlantic Coast of South Africa, north of Cape Town, during the mild winter months there.


Click on this link to learn more about the South African field school currently in session.