REU Site: Crow Canyon Archaeological Center College Field School For Undergraduates

College Field School

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This project is funded in part by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences directorate. It has broader scientific and societal impacts in addition to integrating undergraduate research and education. This REU Sites award to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center supports authentic archaeological research for 10 undergraduate students from underrepresented populations over the course of seven weeks spanning three years (30 total students).

Students actively engage in research alongside professional mentors within the framework of a long-term research project, the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. Students receive extensive preparation in STEM-based learning objectives that are necessary for future success within the discipline. This program provides students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to secure future employment within archaeology and to pursue advanced degrees, emerging as the next generation of professionals, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, educators, and leaders within the sciences. Inferences generated about past human behavior are utilized to create a better understanding of the principles that govern culture change worldwide and to address issues relevant to today’s societies, providing critical information to guide future policy making.

The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center initiated the Northern Chaco Outliers Project in 2017 with the goals of addressing important regional questions surrounding the expansion of Ancestral Pueblo Chaco-style communities in the Mesa Verde region, as well as broader anthropological research questions concerning human-environment interactions, the development of inequality/equality, the political role of community centers, and identity formation/dissolution. Although this Site has a regional focus, its results have national and global impacts. By engaging in scientific research focused on broader anthropological questions, REU students advance and share knowledge of the human past and contribute to cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary research surrounding human actions in the past, present, and future.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC) was awarded support by the National Science Foundation for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site focusing on the Northern Chaco Outliers Project (NCOP) in the U.S. Southwest. This seven-week experiential program will bring together undergraduate students, including American Indian and other underrepresented populations, and professional archaeologists for the purpose of providing authentic and professional opportunities for student engagement in collaborative, on-going research. Students will receive extensive preparation in: 1) designing and conducting empirically-derived research; 2) archaeological theory; 3) excavation and survey methodology and laboratory analyses; and 4) archaeological law and ethics. Our goal is to provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to join the work force and to pursue advanced degrees, emerging as the next generation of professionals, educators, and leaders within the sciences. Under the direction of Dr. Susan C. Ryan, the Center’s Chief Mission Officer, undergraduate students may, but are not required to, enroll for 6 credit hours in Anthropology 379, through Adams State University in Colorado that can be transferred to their home institution. This field school is certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists.

COVID-19 Precautions

Crow Canyon staff continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic with everyone’s safety in mind. We will offer this in-person program with additional safety measures in place and will follow Crow Canyon’s COVID-19 safety protocols throughout the program. This program may be cancelled if the environment is unsafe for students and staff.

Qualifying students will receive a stipend to support their attendance through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (NSF REU 1851763).

Accommodations are in comfortable, shared cabins on Crow Canyon’s 170-acre campus, just outside the town of Cortez. Students must provide their own sleeping kits and personal gear and will be housed in cabins designed to be energy efficient. Cabins include shower and toilet facilities. Housing costs are included with this program.

  • Crow Canyon provides Wi-Fi Internet service in campus buildings.
  • Laundry facilities will be made available to students.

This program provides all meals, seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On-campus meals are served cafeteria-style in the lodge. Dinner and lunches on campus include a salad bar and a vegetarian entree. Fresh fruit, lemonade, iced tea, and coffee are available on campus all day. If you are working at the Haynie site or on survey, snacks, water, and a picnic lunch (sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, and cookies) are provided. Juice, spring water, and soda are available from the vending machine behind the lodge. Meal costs are included with this program.

Crow Canyon’s 170-acre campus, located just outside the town of Cortez, features a large meadow, pinyon- and juniper-covered hillsides, and spectacular views of Mesa Verde and the La Plata Mountains. A short nature trail winds through the woods. Buildings on campus include the lodge, cabins, 10 Navajo-style hogans, two learning centers, and the Gates Archaeology Laboratory (the Gates Building), which houses classrooms, libraries, offices, and a material culture laboratory. A lounge area is also available in the Gates Building.

All indoor facilities are smoke-free. Wildfires are a real danger in our area; if you smoke, please do so only in the designated smoking area, at the picnic table behind the lodge. Smoking by minors (under age 18) is prohibited.
In addition to hosting participants in Crow Canyon programs, our rural campus is also visited by a variety of wildlife, including deer, rabbits, marmots, birds, snakes, lizards, foxes, coyotes, and the occasional mountain lion.

The field school fee covers in-field transportation, field equipment rental, housing, meals, instructor fees, evening lectures, and field trips to ancestral Pueblo sites in the Mesa Verde region. Transportation to and from Cortez and your personal gear are your responsibility. Weekends are yours to explore the cultural and natural attractions in the area.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California CST 2059347-50