and Heritage in Flanders, Belgium:
A Belgian Summer of Archaeology and Heritage
Eleven students from the Department of Anthropology and from Europe spent three weeks learning about archaeology, historic preservation, town planning, and heritage tourism. The course is designed to introduce students not only to Europe's multi-cultural past, but also how research, interpretation, and tourism development affect the ways the past is preserved and presented to the public.
"Roman dinner, digging at Ename, nature walks—these are creative ways to learn,” remarked one student! Faculty from the course included UM Anthropology professors, staff of the Ename Center, and guest lecturers from a wide variety of Belgian government cultural agencies and local and regional tourist offices and museums.
Students spent the first week excavating at the medieval archaeological site, learning about the site’s historical and ecological context, and experiencing the museum’s virtual reality presentation program. For the second week, students and faculty traveled to other sites and museums in the region that illustrate different approaches to heritage interpretation. Through presentations at historical battlefields, with a focus on Flanders Field, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa Museum in Tervuren, students critiqued different approaches to presenting “disputed pasts” and learned different ways of employing multiple perspectives in the interpretation of history.
The final week of the course was spent in the historic cities of Bruges (Belgium) and Trier (Germany) to learn about the impact of tourism on historic buildings and archaeological sites, urban development, and the local community. These behind-the-scenes tours allowed students to see “first-hand that heritage, archaeology, and presentation have a great impact on everyday life,” according to one of the students.
The perspective students gained from learning about heritage and public interpretation in another country was invaluable. Students recognized the value of exploring such issues far from home, where familiarity and personal biases limit one’s objectivity: “Now that we have seen analyses of these issues in Europe, it will be easier to turn them around and apply them to the U.S,” according to one student. Remarked another, “maybe it is possible to change the world after all.”
Plans for the 2003 Belgium Summer Study Program are underway. If you are interested in participating in this intensive, 6-credit course, please contact the Center for Heritage Resource Studies or the UM Study Abroad Program.
For more information, visit the following websites:
Center for Heritage Resource Studies
UM Department of Anthropology
UM Study Abroad Program
Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation