SAA PEC Biographies

Patrice L. Jeppson, Ph.D.

2200 Ben Franklin Pkwy E1812, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Phone: 215-563-9262, Fax: 215-701-8757, Email:

Description of past and current involvement in public outreach and education

        I find actions generally undertaken under SAA Principle of Archaeological Ethics No. 4,  Education and Outreach, do not always reach the objectives and goals of the Society's core guiding ethic, No. 1--Stewardship. This seems to be because much education and outreach is restricted to meeting federal agency objectives for educational outreach on public lands (i.e., site preservation and an appreciation for the past), which of course is only a portion of what archaeology as a whole deals with. My own involvement with public archaeology outreach and education is guided strongly by SAA's core ethic, Principle of Archaeological Ethics, No. 1. -- Stewardship [revised 2000], which holds, among other things, that archaeologists should respect the wide range of other legitimate interests in the possible uses of archaeological sites. I believe that archaeologists, and the SAA, should be more responsive to the needs of our publics which means doing more than conducting outreach related to preservation issues. By doing this we can open up a greater space for archaeology's participation in everyday life. This will, in turn, be working towards a change in the national culture to one that better meets archaeology's needs.

        Toward this end, one of my interests has been how to more effectively bring archaeology to the public school audience for education's needs (not just archaeology's needs). Between 1998 and 2002, I undertook a participant observation study at the Center for Archaeology/Baltimore County Public Schools where I assisted a Social Studies Specialist in implementing a sequential, integrated, curriculum-based program of archaeology. In this school district (the nation's 22nd largest public school district), I co-presented school visitation programs, co-supervised field archaeology activities, and co-wrote archaeology-enriched social studies exercises as part of District's Department of Curriculum and Instruction's Office of Social Studies Educational Support Services. This collaboration has been and continues to be reported on in several archaeology conferences and publications.

As an historical archaeologist, my archaeology purview easily melds with social studies curriculum opportunities and, as a member of the Society for Historical Archaeology Public Education and Interpretation Committee (PEIC) who is tasked with K-12 Issues, I have pursued organizing events bringing social studies educators and archaeologists together. I also actively contribute to information exchanges between the archaeology societies, agencies, and non-profits involved with outreach to the formal school sector (e.g., SHA, AAA, AIA, Project Archaeology). This is important given our few resources (money, time and people power), the size of this public/audience (53 million public school students and 2.3 million public school teachers), and the fact that we often tend to target the same educators (e.g., NCSS).

        In my past, I have developed museum exhibits, including a traveling education case, related to academic research and to cultural resources management projects in California and South Africa. I've taught for several years as an Adjunct Lecturer at California State University, Bakersfield (1993-1997) incorporating a unit on Public Archaeology into an historical archaeology course (1997). I taught the inaugural course in archaeology offered at the University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa in 1992. I am currently an Adjunct Lecturer at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

        I recently completed a major, 2-year, Public Archaeology research project for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. I assessed Franklin-related archaeological evidence for the needs of an international loan exhibit, a Frankliniana Database, and educational outreach programs to be disseminated over the Internet. I am completing a public archaeology marketing study exploring opportunities for promoting 'the idea of archaeology'. This study, undertaken on behalf of the Society for Historical Archaeology Public Education and Interpretation Committee is testing objects bearing a pictoral rendering to see if they convey an idea of historical archaeology for public consumption. I have co-organized and participated in several conference sessions, both in the US and abroad, devoted to exploring the theoretical issues and applied practices of Public Archaeology. I served as Chair of the SAA Excellence in Public Education Award Committee (2002-2006) overseeing an updating of the award categories so that SAA can better recognize the evolving accomplishments of public archaeology.

Interest in PEC membership

I have been a member of the SAA PEC since 2001. I assisted with the public web pages Design Plan and gathered and coordinated content for this set of public archaeology web pages during their implementation. I am now Lead on this project.  Being part of the web page project means interacting with colleagues involved in all areas of public archaeology education and outreach and for this I feel fortunate and grateful. I joined the PEC so that I could serve my professional society in relation to a topic of interest, to improve my professional society's public 'face', and to work to encourage cross societal contact (because my activities also serve the SHA PEIC).

Area of interest: I consider myself a generalist when it comes to an area of interest within the archaeology subfield, or focus, of public archaeology. However, I am interested in the historiography of public archaeology practice, in understanding what it is we actually do for our publics, in exploring new ways to be effective at meeting our publics needs (and growing new publics), and I would like to see us incorporate evaluation/assessment in our endeavors.

Target audience(s): professional archaeologists, general public, teachers/schools