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Exploring the Past: Archaeology in the Upper Mississippi River Valley

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“Exploring the Past: Archaeology in the Upper Mississippi River Valley” is a three-week school teacher summer institute for twenty-five participants on archaeological theory and methods as applied to the cultures of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.  The institute focuses on the archaeology of the Upper Mississippi River Valley from the arrival of the Paleoindian large-game hunters about 13,500 years ago through the development of agriculture and the arrival of European settlers; it also looks at modern land use, using the Amish as a case study.  It provides a vehicle for considering how archaeologists give insight into how people lived, adapted to their surroundings, and changed over time.  Activities include lectures, discussions, site visits, hands-on archaeological activities, and, additionally, projects for classroom implementation.  During week one, participants learn basic archaeological concepts and terms, excavation methods, and artifact interpretation.  In week two, they focus on the peopling of the New World and hunter-gatherer adaptations, with specific reference to the upper Midwest. During week three, they explore horticultural and agricultural adaptations, the effects of European contact on the indigenous peoples of the region, and adaptive strategies linking archaeology to the modern day. The reading list includes selections on archaeological practice and numerous archaeological case studies of the region. The institute staff, all affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWLC) and/or the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC), include co-directors Bonnie Jancik and Jonathan Baker, and faculty members James Theler and Katherine Stevenson.

Dates: July 9--27 (3 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Location: La Crosse, WI

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.