Societies News

October 26, 2021

Virtual Programming allows the San Francisco Society to reach More Members

Like the Vancouver Society shared with us last month, the San Francisco Society has also found a positive in the midst of pandemic challenges – more of its members scattered throughout the Bay Area have been able to enjoy its lectures and events thanks to the new virtual format. Not only did they have greater participation, but they were also able to invite lecturers from outside the region to share about their research. Upcoming plans for the 2021-2022 season include a virtual lecture on November 4 by Michael Dietler and outreach initiatives in local K-8 classrooms.

Rebekah McKay, Program Coordinator for the San Francisco Society and a graduate student in the Department of Classics at UC Berkeley, gives a complete update below.

“The San Francisco society of the AIA has the privilege of drawing members from all over the Bay Area, from Vacaville to San Francisco and Carmel to Yreka. With such wonderfully diverse and widely dispersed membership, it has historically been difficult to host events that everyone can attend. As we adapted to a virtual format during COVID-19, bringing all of our lectures to our YouTube livestream, we were finally able to reach every member and make our lecture program accessible to all, in spite of Bay Area traffic! This year the virtual format has not only allowed a larger audience to attend talks and engage with the speakers, but we have also been able to invite some fantastic non-local scholars to speak. In October, Dr. Mary Voyatzis of the University of Arizona gave a virtual talk on Ancient Arcadia, and in February, we will hear from Dr. Vivian A. Laughlin, Andrew W. Mellon/Humanities in Leadership Learning Series Postdoctoral Scholar at Case Western Reserve University.

While we worked to expand our reach both with our audience and our speakers, we also continued our tradition of kicking off the fall Lecture Series by spotlighting current fieldwork and research of UC Berkeley graduate students in our annual “Reports from the Field” event. This gives graduate students from many departments (Classics, Anthropology, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and others), the chance to share their work with our members and for our members to share in discoveries fresh out of the trenches. This year we heard talks on Eco-archaeology and Indigenous stewardship practices in the San Vicente Redwoods, ancient water management in northern Iraq, and the unique challenges of excavation during the pandemic lockdown in Greece.

The San Francisco Society is also working hard to bring our outreach efforts into local classrooms. In 2020, we were delighted to receive a Society Outreach Grant from the AIA that will allow us to launch “Putting the Past in the Hands of the Future: 3D objects, archaeology, and education.” This pilot program is aimed at promoting community engagement, learning, and research by introducing elementary and middle school students to the discipline of archaeology. In collaboration with the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology at UC Berkeley, we will be visiting Bay Area classrooms and introducing students to archaeology and archaeological methods through lessons, activities, and hands-on engagement with 3D printed objects from excavations in Greece. These visits will offer an opportunity to explore the relationship between 3D printed objects, virtual reconstructions, and education, while giving children a chance to explore the ways in which the past informs the present and the role of new technologies in research. While restrictions due to COVID-19 have delayed the launch of the program somewhat, we are looking forward to going into the schools in person this academic year.”

Thank you to Rebekah for sharing about all the wonderful things going on with the San Francisco Society! We applaud their hard work. And don’t forget that the 2022 Annual Meeting will take place in San Francisco, CA from January 5-8, 2022. Registration and hotel reservations are now open. Click here to learn more.

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The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.