As we begin dialog on the many ways in which archaeologists can make a broader impact, I’m reminded that our planet needs our support now, more so than ever before. Development, pollution, and irresponsible resource exploitation are driving us ever more towards an equifinality in which we are the losers. What greater impact could we as a discipline have than to effect resource-driven change at the regional and national level?
Two things are certain – 1) we must train leaders in environmental conservation so they may create appropriate policy and lead us into a sustainable future. Given the academic training of many of America’s politicians (law, business, public health,etc) these are the disciplines we should target with an explicit, directed message, 2) we must train scientists, both humanists and positivists, in the field of historical ecology to develop methods for the sustainable resource driven exploitation of the environment. The former requires schools of public policy, law, and business to design programs and breed leaders informed and with a will to conserve and use sustainably our planets diminishing resources. The latter mandates study on the interrelationship between human and environmental variables from an interdisciplinary perspective. Archaeologists are ideally situated between the humanities and hard sciences to describe human/environment interaction in prehistory and make inferences on sustainable land use as we have the advantage of the long duree. What this requires, above a more holistic education at the MA and PhD levels, is a concerted effort within our discipline to talk beyond our borders.
Oh, and anthropology needs to be taught at the high-school level. Any ideas? Comments?