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Public Education Committee

Programs and Initiatives

Teresa L. Hoffman and Shereen Lerner

In its ongoing support of public education efforts on behalf of SAA, the Public Education Committee (PEC) will be providing regular reports on its activities and initiatives of relevance to the membership, beginning with this issue of the Bulletin. One of the most active SAA committees, PEC has a large and dedicated membership with a strong commitment to forwarding its goals.

The PEC has its roots in the 1989 Save the Past for the Future Conference held in Taos, New Mexico, to discuss looting and vandalism of cultural resources. Sponsored by SAA, the conference resulted in a consensus that public education is the most effective long-term solution to the problem of site destruction. An ad hoc committee was organized and met in late 1989 to continue discussions about the need for a nationwide public education initiative. This meeting resulted in a proposal to the SAA Board of Directors for the creation of a permanent committee on public education.

The Board of Directors authorized a task force to study the issue and to develop an action plan, which was submitted at the 1990 SAA Annual Meeting. With the unanimous adoption of the action plan, the PEC was formally created and given the mandate to carry out the goals and elements of the plan, which addresses a broad range of public education goals related to archaeology. The goals of the SAA Action Plan included:

Based on goal achievements, this plan has been periodically updated and revised as a Strategic Plan, which identifies areas where the PEC provides leadership within SAA for a clear and long-term commitment to public education about and through archaeology. The Strategic Plan initiatives are carried out by subcommittees and work groups in coordination with other SAA committees, governmental agencies, and outside institutions. Updated in 1997, the current Strategic Plan may be found on the SAAweb page under the topic "Education."

The PEC has evolved over the years as specific goals have been achieved and new challenges are addressed. As part of that evolutionary process, the 1998 Seattle meeting served as a transition for several long-term members who have moved on to other endeavors. Phyllis Messenger (former PEC vice-chair), George Smith, and Susan Bender, all past chairs of subcommittees, put their hearts into developing an effective public education program for SAA. Phyllis has agreed to continue to serve in an advisory capacity to the committee. George and Susan will carry on as cochairs of an independent task force (see below). We appreciate the efforts of these and others who have left the PEC.

Our thanks especially go out to Ed Friedman, our first and only chair, for leaving a legacy of hard work, warm smiles, and an active and productive committee. Ed was honored with a Presidential Recognition Award at the society's Annual Business Meeting. In giving the award to Ed, President Vin Steponaitis remarked that "no committee in SAA is larger, more active, and more important to the future of archaeology than the [PEC]. The heart and soul of this committee has been Ed Friedman, its long-time chair" who was recognized for his "many accomplishments, inspiring leadership, and unparalleled contribution to American archaeology." With Ed's retirement, he officially turned over the reins to the new chair, Shereen Lerner. The following are highlights of some ongoing subcommittee programs; more will be described in future Bulletin issues.

At the 1998 SAA meeting, the PEC endorsed and the Board of Directors approved the establishment of a Task Force on Teaching Archaeology in the 21st Century. Cochaired by Susan Bender and George Smith, this task force has its roots in the Professional Involvement Subcommittee but is now deserving of its own place within the society. The task force is charged with identifying the intellectual and ethical principles and technical skills needed to practice archaeology in all its applications. PEC members will serve on the task force to maintain the link to education programs.

Under the direction of chair Robert Brunswig, the Professional Involvement Subcommittee is continuing its efforts in working with American Antiquity editor Lynne Goldstein to develop a special issue on public education and encouraging the review of education-related publications in the journal. For more information, contact Brunswig at

The Native American Education Subcommittee continues to make great strides in conducting annual workshops designed to provide Native American educators with materials and strategies for developing curricula using the scientific concepts and findings of archaeology. Two workshops have been held over the past year, with the most recent one completed at the Cherokee Tribal Museum and Western Carolina University in North Carolina (August 1-7). The first successful workshop was held last summer at Haskell Indian Nations University and the subcommittee is negotiating with HINU to continue and expand the workshop program. Contact chair Jon Czaplicki at

Soon to be available will be a new, condensed version of the Resource Forum, a traveling exhibit that contains a broad collection of existing archaeology education materials. It will make its debut at next year's SAA meeting. Contact KC Smith at for information on the contents and scheduling of this exhibit.

Perhaps one of the most significant changes to emerge from the SAA meeting is the decision by the committee to restructure our publication efforts. While we believe the PEC newsletter, Archaeology and Public Education, has been an effective and successful tool in providing information on archaeology and sample lesson plans, and has received kudos from all who receive it, we have decided to change our focus. The newsletter will no longer be published in its current format. Beginning in spring or fall 1999 a biannual, theme-oriented monograph with sample lesson plans geared to precollegiate teachers will be produced twice a year. The newsletter will continue in some form on the SAA web site; the format has yet to be decided. There will be more information on the changes underway in the next issue of the SAA Bulletin. Contact newsletter editors KC Smith (see email address above) or Amy Douglass at

For more information on the SAA PEC and its activities, contact Shereen Lerner at

Teresa L. Hoffman is at Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd., in Tempe, Arizona, and Shereen Lerner teaches at Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona.

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