Award Details

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Award for Excellence in Public Education

Nomination/Submission Deadline: 20 Dec 2019

Award Description

This award recognizes excellence in the sharing of archaeological information with the general public and is designed to encourage outstanding achievements in public engagement. The award cycles through three categories: media and technology [2020], curriculum [2021], and community [2022]. The media and technology category recognizes outstanding programs or products that reflect collaborative initiatives that engage diverse communities. Potential applicants and nominees who feel their work is eligible are encouraged to contact the committee chair by early November to solicit guidance. The committee will consider outstanding nominations in other categories for future awards. The committee also recognizes that some programs or projects may be eligible for more than one category. Upon request, the committee will provide suggested examples of programs or projects eligible for the award category in a given year. The award for 2020 will be presented in the Media and Technology category.  

Who Is Eligible to Submit Nominations or Apply for the Award

Any member of SAA may submit a nomination file, although awardees are not required to be members of the SAA. 

Nomination/Submission Materials Required

Nominators will work with the Chair prior to submission to assemble a nomination file that will include 1) the Award Nomination Form; 2) a letter of nomination that identifies the outstanding program or product being nominated and summarizes the accomplishments; 3) supporting evidence of the accomplishments; and 4) endorsements (no more than three). The nomination letter and narrative should address the following topics:

  • Overview: Describe the program/product being nominated, including its goals and how it is made available to the public.
  • Creativity: Discuss the innovative aspects of the program/product.
  • Leadership: Explain how the program/product serves as an exemplary model of public education related to archaeology.
  • Public Impact: Document the impact of the program/product on relevant publics beyond the discipline of archaeology (general public, special interest groups, pre-collegiate or nontraditional students, others).
  • Ethics: Mention ways in which the program/product promotes an understanding of ethical archaeology, such as appropriate presentation of archaeological methods, encouragement of site stewardship, connection and consultation with descendants, and other public involvement.

The nomination file should include details (include (including photos or samples, if possible) of the specific program/product and supporting materials that document the results of the specific program/product. This material should clearly demonstrate the case being made in the nomination narrative. For example, supporting materials might document the impact of a specific program in terms of the numbers of the public involved, personnel qualification, the frequency or longevity of programs offered, formal evaluation results, and/or feedback from the audience. Endorsements from secondary nominators are welcomed (please, no more than three). Prior nomination does not exclude consideration of a nominee in subsequent years. Designers of programs or products may nominate their own work. Nominations may include programs or products conducted or created within the last five years. Electronic submissions are encouraged. If a nomination package is mailed, six (6) copies of the nomination package (including supporting materials) must be submitted.

Other Special Requirements

Nature of Award (e.g. monetary, medal, symposium)

The awardee is recognized by the SAA through a plaque presented during the business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, a citation in The SAA Archaeological Record, and acknowledgment on the awards page of the SAA Website. 

Current Committee Charge

The committee solicits nominations and selects recipients for the Award for Excellence in Public Education. This award is designed to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions in the sharing of archaeological knowledge and issues with the public. The award rotates among three categories: curriculum, community, and media and information technology. 

Committee Composition

Committee composition is one chair and at least four members. 

Term Length

Term length is three years. Individuals ending their terms cycle off the committee at the close of the Business Meeting held during the annual SAA Meeting, and new appointees begin their terms at this time.

Award Cycle

The award cycles through three categories: media and technology [2020], curriculum [2021],  community [2022]. Then the cycle begins again.

Committee Chair and End of Term

Meredith Langlitz, Chair [2021] 

Committee Chair Contact Information

Committee Members and Ends of Terms

Teresa Raczek [2020],  Alice P. Wright [2020], Bonnie Pitblado [2021],  Sara E. Ayers-Rigsby [2022]

Selection or Evaluation Criteria

Nominations are reviewed individually by members of the Award for Excellence in Public Education Committee, who select a recipient based on the following criteria: public impact, creativity in programming, leadership, and promotion of archaeological ethics. 

For more information on the selection process, please view the evaluation rubric

Committee Deliberation Process (e.g. dates, venue)

After reviewing all nominations individually, committee members meet electronically and/or via telephone conference after the submission deadline has passed to select the winner.  

2019  Magic Mountain Community Archaeology Project
Magic Mountain Community Archaeology Project (MMCAP) earned the 2019 Award for Excellence in Public Education for exemplary involvement of local communities in an archaeological research project. This was accomplished through a partnership between the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Paleocultural Research Group under the direction of Drs. Michele Koons and Mark Mitchell. MMCAP stands out among community archaeology projects because of the impressive scope of its public programming: during the 2017 and 2018 field seasons 3,000 participants partook in thoughtfully designed programs. MMCAP not only invited the public to the site, but actively reached out and provided access to people who might not otherwise engage with archaeology. This included providing lunch and transportation for underserved youth groups, hosting a dedicated intertribal day, and creating Native American teen internships. MMCAP demonstrates best practices in how to stimulate the public’s excitement for and understanding of the past through community archaeology.

2018    Davis Bottom History Preservation Project and Kentucky Archaeological Society

2017    Kristina Killgrove

2016    None

2015    Kansas Archeology Training Program

2014    Abby the ArchaeoBus: Society for Georgia Archaeology, New South Associates, Georgia Transmission Corporation, and Georgia State University

2013    None (Media and Information Technology)

2012    The Education Outreach Program of the Office of Archaeological Studies (Community)

2011    None (Media and Information Technology)

2010    Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter (Curriculum)

2009    Center for American Archaeology, Kampsville, Illinois (Institution)

2008    Texas Beyond History: The Virtual Museum of Texas' Cultural Heritage (Media and Information Technology)

2007    The 5th Street Cemetery Necrogeographical Study (Curriculum)

2006    Richard E. Pettigrew (Archaeologist)

2005    Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico (Institution)

2004    Patricia Wheat Stranahan (Educator)

2003    Jeanne Moe (Archaeologist)

2002    AnthroNotes (Institution)

2001    George Brauer (Educator)

2000    George Stuart (Archaeologist)

1999    Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (Institution)

1998    Jan Coleman Knight (Educator)

1997    Brian Fagan (Archaeologist)