Winter Term Courses: Archaeology, Indigenous Environmentalism, and Research
Aside from giving Information Sessions and writing for our lovely blog here as an Admissions Office Senior Fellow, I am also taking a full course load of three courses this Winter. To help you, our amazing prospective students, get a feel for academic life at Dartmouth, I thought I'd spill the tea about my classes this winter! I'm currently taking Religion 20.07: Archaeologies of Religion, Native American Studies/Environmental Studies 18: Indigenous Environmental Studies, and Religion 84: Advanced Independent Research. As a senior, most of the courses I'll be taking during my final year are in an attempt to fulfill my different major requirements and these courses do just that (plus, they're really interesting)!
Religion 20.07: Archaeologies of Religion
For REL 20.07, I am learning about the important role which archaeology plays in the study of our world's religious history. In fact, my professor, Darryl Wilkinson, would argue that most of humanity's religious history is only accessible using archaeological evidence. In my own experience studying religion and history, even when texts are available, they tend to reflect the perspective of elites. This course explores how archaeological methods can help us better understand religious phenomena in past societies from many different perspectives. Topics which we've covered include the religion (or lack thereof) of our hominid ancestors (e.g. Neanderthals), the state religions of ancient civilizations, and the complementary perspective that archaeology provides on World Religions. I'm really excited to learn more about archaeology, a field which I haven't studied much of in past terms!
Native American Studies/Environmental Studies 18: Indigenous Environmental Studies
This NAS/ENVS cross-listed course is one which my younger brother, a Dartmouth '23, actually took his first-year Fall! His passion for the course and friendship with Professor Nicholas Reo, or 'Reo' as many NADs (Native Americans at Dartmouth) refer to this funny and intelligent Indigenous man, motivated me to take this course! In addition to an amazing professor, this course also counts as my final necessary class to complete my NAS modification. In this course, we are examining Indigenous worldviews, environmental values, and everyday life through the lens of environmental issues facing Indigenous nations and communities. As a student in this class, I've gained exposure to varied Indigenous perspectives and Indigenous knowledges expressed and enacted by scholars, elders, community members, political leaders, and activists. Topics such as Indigenous rights and responsibilities, Indigenous environmental stewardship, energy and development, land-language linkages, tribal sovereignty and self-determination, empowerment and resurgence are all being discussed in our virtual Zoom discussions.
Religion 84: Advanced Independent Research
In REL 84, I work with a faculty advisor on the research of my choice. For the duration of this course, I'll be working with Professor Wilkinson (yes, the very one who is teaching my REL 20.07 class too) on an independent research project. Professor Wilkinson first joined Dartmouth's Religion Department faculty last Winter. During 20W, I took Indigenous Religions with him and decided to continue my pursuit of this theme in my own research! This term, I'm taking not one, but two courses with him in order to complete my Religion major. To take REL 84, Religion majors have to consult with a faculty adviser, decide on a course of study, reading, and writing that will culminate in a 25-page essay by the end of the term. With help from Professor Wilkinson, I have crafted my own syllabus for the class which allows me to complete this project on my own time. My topic of study you ask? My own tribal history of course! In 25 pages, I'll be attempting to analyze the cultural and political implications of the foundation of the Choctaw Church in Indian Territory. I can't wait to get deep into this research!
Although all of these classes do help me reach my ultimate goal of graduating from Dartmouth College this Spring, they're also supremely interesting and important to me. With this course load, I get to explore the field of archaeology, learn more about Indigenous environmental movements and practices, and continue in my research into the history of my own tribe. I truly couldn't have asked for a better schedule! In order to successfully complete a term at Dartmouth, balance is crucial, and with this schedule, I think I've struck gold!