The Higher Education Academy, History, Classics and Archaeology

Subject Centre for History,
Classics and Archaeology

Creating Tomorrow's Archaeologists: Who Sets The Agenda?


DATE: 18 Dec 2004
LOCATION/VENUE: University of Glasgow


A recently published paper in World Archaeology (June 2004) begins with the statement that 'UK university archaeology departments are not delivering the training that equips students to begin working lives in archaeology'. This is a bold and intentionally provocative statement, and is made by those who believe the primary aim of a university degree in archaeology should be to train potential archaeologists, who can then be employed by the 'CRM' industry.

Many university-based archaeologists, however, challenge this view on the understanding that an undergraduate education is primarily about developing students' abilities to articulate critical and ethical judgements; it is not primarily concerned with imparting generic or subject specific skills. And of course, as with any debate, there are many other positions in between these two diametrically opposed characterisations of the education versus training debate. This debate often assumes there is agreement on what it is to be an archaeologist, and what constitutes professional archaeological work. Interestingly, that same issue of World Archaeology also includes an altogether different critique of archaeological teaching in Higher Education, which begins by asking: "Why is there so little discussion on pedagogy in archaeology?" Although we now have a greater understanding of who sets the theoretical and political agenda for the construction archaeological knowledge, there is little critical discussion of educational and training agendas in archaeology - agendas that greatly influence who constitutes the next generation of archaeologists.

This session brings together some of the different stakeholders in creating the next generation of archaeologists. But, the session will not simply be a parade of formal presentations detailing specific positions. The delivery of this session will take advantage of the venue's technology that allows for enhanced audience participation to encourage a dialogue between the audience and those selected to present certain position papers. By using an Electronic Voting System panellists will explore, by actively engaging the audience, such questions as: What does it mean to be an archaeologist? Who or what body decides when someone is an archaeologist? And, what is that decision based on? Are so-called 'academic' archaeologists different to 'professional' archaeologists? Is there a culture clash between academia and practice? Does the teaching of archaeology or the training of archaeologists reproduce structures of power and hierarchy; and, does it promote a certain view of and values about the past and the present.

2. Creating Tomorrow's Archaeologists: Who Sets the Agenda? (Lecture Theatre 1)

Organiser and chair: Thomas A. Dowson. Discussant: Prof. Lord Renfrew.

Be there at 1.45 to get your TAGIG* - you can't participate in this interactive event without one!

Creating Tomorrow's Archaeologists: Who Sets the Agenda? (Lecture Theatre 1)  2.00 Introduction - Thomas Dowson
2.10 Interactive questions and discussion
2.10 Prof. Matthew Johnson
2.30 Dr Kenny Aitchison
2.50 Dr John Walker
3.10 Discussion
3.30 Coffee Break
4.00 Interactive questions and discussion
4.00 Professor William Hanson
4.20 Mr Richard Benjamin
4.40 Prof. Meg Conkey
5.00 Dr Yannis Hamilakis
5.45 Discussant: Prof. Lord Renfrew

* TAGIG = TAG Interactive Gadget



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The Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology, School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, Hartley Building, Brownlow Street, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GS, Telephone +44 (0) 151 795 0343, Fax +44 (0) 151 794 5057, Email: