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Articles Tagged with fieldwork

Telling the Forests’ Stories

An interview with Grant Elliott, Assistant Professor of Geography

Geography professor Grant Elliott’s research uncovers the stories of forests and their response to a changing climate. His study of the movement of treelines in Alpine forests paints a sobering picture of the stunningly rapid rate of global warming. “The rate of forest change that we’ve been seeing in the last ten years has been pretty—I don’t know if ‘apocalyptic’ is the word, but it certainly deviates quite a bit from what we would consider the natural range of variability,” Elliott discloses. A global change ecologist, Elliott does not employ grandiose rhetoric—there is no need. Instead, the data gathered from his work as a dendroecologist clearly and irrefutably attests to the current unprecedented rate of climate change. Moreover, his research focuses on the effects of such change, not the causes, taking into account a local ecology’s past, present, and future.

Evangelical Africanist

An interview with Robert Baum, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Being a religious studies professor means that Robert Baum is frequently asked about his own religion, to which he responds cheerfully, “I’m an Evangelical Africanist,” a remark that reveals his “deep commitment to make sure Africa is included whenever we talk about the world.” Running through all of Baum’s work—whether teaching, research, or outreach—is a value on religious literacy, the desire to promote a better understanding of the world’s major religions.

Audio and Video Tagged with fieldwork

Adventures in the Field

From an interview with Grant Elliott, Assistant Professor of Geography

Daily life in the field is always exciting, Elliott reports. Whether a narrow escape from being struck by lightening or evading attack from local wildlife, each day brings a new adventure.

Fieldwork in Senegal

From an interview with Robert Baum, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies
In 1974, Baum received a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study Diola religion in Senegal. He lived in a southern Diola community, learned the language, gained the community’s trust, and has returned there over the years to conduct historical and ethnographic research. “I learned the language, learned how to wrestle, how to work in the rice paddies, how to climb palm trees, how to harvest palm wine, [and do] some of the dances.” Baum never used an interpreter. Only after participating in the community for a year, and learning the language, did he feel ready to begin doing interviews. Baum recollects the process: “I kept going back, and by that time I’d been adopted by my family and was considered part of the community. I had a Diola name and nicknames, I publicly danced sacred dances, I wrestled, and was thrown to the ground—which is certainly a way of winning acceptance in a community and defying certain stereotypes of what it means to be white or European in an African culture.”

How Barker Came to this Field

From an interview with Alex Barker, Director, Museum of Art and Archeology

“I could never decide what I wanted to do,” recounts Barker. “I was interested in everything. People have described archaeology as being a discipline that takes from all the other disciplines. He began his career in archaeology at a very young age—during middle school, in fact—doing field camps through a Northwestern University program in southern Illinois, where he helped to excavate a series of very large sites. After doing a few seasons there, Barker was hooked.