As many of the readers may know, I am currently researching and visiting universities around the country. I plan on applying to a handful of Anthropology PhD programs that seem like a good match for my research interests this coming Winter. My goal is to find a program strong in Pre-historic North American Archaeology AND Digital Humanities Research. Since I already have a general M.A. in Anthropology, I wanted to find a school with the resources and opportunities available that would allow me to research my specific topics of interest; not just sign onto someone else’s.
As part of this quest, I recently visited the Michigan State University Anthropology Department to speak with some of the faculty and tour the facilities. First off, let me say that I really liked the MSU campus. The university is among the largest in the country and boasts the facilities one would expect with such a sprawling city-campus.
I had the privilege of meeting with Lynne Goldstein (Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Professor of Anthropology, Adjunct Curator of Anthropology at MSU Museum) and Ethan Watrall (Associate Director of MSU MATRIX, Director of MSU Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative, Associate Professor of Anthropology) on campus at the Consortium for Archaeological Research in McDonel Hall (sorry no pic, it was raining for most of the day) to discuss the program and my research interests. It was good of them to take time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and show me around.
After having lunch with some of the faculty at the Consortium, I got to tour the archaeology labs, repository, and a few of the classrooms that were also housed in McDonel Hall with William Lovis (Professor of Anthropology, Curator of Anthropology at MSU Museum). The department has a ton of space compared to either of my last two schools, so I was very impressed with the scope of everything. I really liked the collaborative community-feel at the Consortium; it was great meeting everyone.
The department of Anthropology is actually housed in Baker Hall, just on the other side of the Red Cedar River (which splits the campus) from McDonel Hall. It was here that I got the chance to speak with Jodie O’Gorman, the Interim Chair of the Anthropology Department. Again, very gracious of her to sit down with me and discuss my intentions.
I was also lucky enough to get a tour of the MSU MATRIX Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online from Ethan. The center is housed in the Natural Sciences Building, not far from Baker Hall.
Natural Sciences Building, Home of MATRIX
MATRIX is doing exciting things in the realm of computing and digitization of social science research information and media. The center participates in collaborative (there’s that word again!) efforts with other universities, institutions, and databases to create and house digital archives of art and humanities research. MATRIX has its own servers and a spacious computing facility which houses their researchers, coders, and fellows. I personally believe that this realm will become increasingly important in the future of humanities research and I love the fact that MSU is embracing progress in this area.
In all, I was very impressed with the department and all of the folks I met with. The MSU campus and facilities are top-notch and it seems like a place where one could find their niche no matter what their interests entail.
Unfortunately it was raining most of the day I spent on campus, but I did manage to snap off a few shots in between raindrops (above: Nat Science Bldng, below: MSU Spartan Stadium).