The Kenyon-Honduras Program offers you the chance to learn about the methods and concepts of anthropology/archaeology, another culture, and yourself by conducting supervised independent field research in the adjoining Chamelecon and lower Cacaulapa valleys in northwestern Honduras. The work conducted by students is not an exercise designed simply to hone investigative skills. Past student investigations have made real contributions to knowledge, significantly expanding our understanding of ancient and present developments. Signing on to the Kenyon-Honduras program, therefore, is a commitment both to learning about Central America's past and present and to increasing what is known about the area's inhabitants.
Student research efforts are conducted for academic credit as ANTH 336. Project development starts with two months of instruction by the directors in all aspects of anthropological and archaeological field research. We begin with two weeks of reading and discussion, during which basic concepts and procedures are introduced. Subsequently, participants engage, as teams, in small-scale, tightly focused investigations of current Honduran lifeways. These studies are designed to introduce students to the local culture and its practitioners (and vice versa), hone interview skills while enhancing confidence in interpersonal interactions, and increase awareness of possible topics for future study. In-field archaeological training comes next, participants receiving instruction in basic survey, excavation, and analytical procedures as well as the ways in which these various activities articulate with and advance project objectives. Throughout these initial two months, students work closely with Hondurans with whom we have been collaborating for many years. These people, hired as informants, excavators, and lab assistants, invariably serve as guides to the foreign culture in which we live and work.
Training completed, students select a specific question, in consultation with the directors, to pursue over the next two-and-a-half months (see past student investigations for examples of research successfully completed by program members and potential topics for examples of issues that might be explored in 2012).
The program will have computers in the field for student use and a database management system suitable for cultural and archaeological analyses requiring statistical manipulations (PARADOX). Other equipment, supplies, and facilities needed for student research in Honduras, along with field labor, will be provided. Participants conducting archaeological projects involving excavation supervise the efforts of four to eight men. This arrangement provides employment to local residents and the opportunity for you to learn to make decisions about the conduct of a significant piece of work. You will also find that the people with whom you collaborate are some of your earliest Honduran friends and best informants about local archaeology and culture (some have worked with us since the late 1970s). All archaeological field research is conducted on weekdays from 7:30am-3:00pm. Scheduling of cultural projects is more flexible as you will not have to worry about coordinating the activities of large groups of people.
Students are not cut loose to sink or swim. We will supervise all work throughout the season. Interactions among students and instructors are particularly intense during the initial two months as participants learn the basics of ethnographic and archaeological field research. As your independent projects develop, however, we gradually relax control until, by the season's end, we will be acting primarily as sources of advice to student colleagues. Following completion of the field season, students will have two weeks to write up their results in preliminary form. These descriptions are included under the student's name in the initial synopsis of project findings left with the Honduran government. Back in the United States, each student will compose a final report on their work based on completed field investigations, the results of any technical analyses conducted by the project (such as C-14 dating for archaeological studies), and additional library research. In this document, student-authors describe the investigations accomplished and interpret the significance of these findings for area prehistory or modern life. Final reports are frequently composed as senior honors theses and serve as contributions to formal monographs and articles on the lower Cacaulapa/Chamelecon investigations.
Students, therefore, follow the research experience through from start to finish, from specifying a question to answer, through conducting the work needed to arrive at that response, to sharing findings with others through a written report. Each step is crucial to the entire learning process: people left to supervise excavations without being able to phrase the issues addressed have a hard time seeing relations between ideas and practice; those who carry out field work but do not write-up the results are denied the pleasure of confronting their own accomplishments and errors. Such a total research experience in anthropology/archaeology is, to our knowledge, only available to undergraduates on the Kenyon-Honduras Program.