Associate professor of Anthropology Thomas Foster recently attended the World Archaeology Congress at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. The conference, which ran from August 28 to September 8, was an opportunity for scientists from around the world to share their work, and make an impact on the future.
The conference’s website states, “In recent years global crises have compelled communities all over the world to reconsider the sustainability of human societies. Environmental, economic and social issues, against a background of rapid modernization and globalization, are growing and market fundamentalism and neo-liberalism are widening economic disparities in many countries and regions.”
There is a role for archaeologists and anthropologists to play in solving this problem, the site suggests. “Busier modern people can’t wait, and tend to see their society with a short-term vision, while celebrating scientific development. Seemingly, archaeologists and heritage managers with respect to the past with their long-term perspective, are expected to engage themselves more in this difficult and challenging time.”
The project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Foster attended as part of a climate group called LandCover6k which is working to improve global climate change models. The group is part of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP).
“We have been meeting in Paris and the Netherlands and have been working on the project for about two years. This conference session was organized by myself and colleagues from the University of Barcelona to advertise our results and to recruit more collaborators,” Foster explained.
According to the IGBP, “LandCover6k addresses land-cover change across the globe that is climate-induced, natural and human-induced due to anthropogenic land use from ca. 1-2 millennia before the start of agriculture. The start of agriculture is dated to ca. 6000 calendar years BP in Europe, but is significantly older in East Asia, e.g. in China at ca. 8000 cal. years BP.”
Foster’s research involves measuring the effects of humans on their environment during the past. “As an archaeologist I use the time depth of ancient archaeological and botanical remains to measure the effects of humans on localized environments. I have published on this for years and became involved with this climate project about three years ago.”
Foster’s research and trip were partially paid for by TU with a grant from the Global Studies program.
“I had never been to Japan so the language difference was a little scary. But it was exciting, fun, enriching, educational, a cultural experience. I have many things to bring back to the classroom which will inform my teaching and research,” Foster said.
Phase one of the research is set to conclude in 2017.