2010 Alumna, Maureen McNamara, was recently published in the Society for Applied Anthropology News. During her time in the Department of Anthropology, McNamara’s research was focused on the economic viability of food movement in local Colorado communities. In her article on page 43, Applying Anthropology to the Working World: Good News for the MA in Anthropology, McNamara discusses the skills she gained while doing her research and how invaluable she finds the perspective from the seat of a cultural anthropologist.
The annual meeting of the Colorado Council for Professional Archaeologists was held in Durango recently and included a symposium session in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Morris who taught in the department from 1970-1988. This conference happened to coincide with Morris’s 80th birthday and in celebration, Dr. Jason LaBelle and friend of the department, Kelly Pool of Metcalf Archaeology, organized a luncheon in her honor.
From Point of Pines to the Prayer Rock in Arizona, From Roberts Ranch to the Rawah in Colorado: A Symposium Honoring the Contributions of Dr. Elizabeth Ann Morris to American Archaeology
For a complete listing of papers presented, please click here.
As appearing on SOURCE | April 11, 2011
Note to Reporters: CSU archaeology Professor Jason LaBelle will talk about the history of the earliest settlers to North America from 7:30-9 p.m. May 3 at the city of Fort Collins Community Room, 215 N. Mason St. The presentation is free and sponsored by the city of Fort Collins Natural Areas program. Call (970) 224-6118 for more details.
FORT COLLINS – A $1 million gift to Colorado State University’s Department of Anthropology will help support better understanding of the role that Native Americans played in forming the cultural and ecological landscapes of the southern Rocky Mountains.
The gift, which establishes the James and Audrey Benedict Mountain Archaeology Fund, also will help train a new generation of Colorado State students as archaeologists by allowing for exploration of new mountain ranges in alpine country, one of the least understood cultural environments.
“As long-time friends and supporters of the Department of Anthropology, Jim and Audrey Benedict have dedicated their lives to studying how humans have continued to adapt to changing environmental conditions,” said archaeology Professor Jason LaBelle. “This invaluable gift – the largest ever in the department – will advance geological and archaeological research in the Rocky Mountains and honor the Benedict’s deep appreciation for the natural world, commitment to research, stewardship and public education.”
Dr. Jim Benedict, who died on March 8, spent his life researching natural history in the alpine country. Audrey Benedict is founder and director of the Cloud Ridge Naturalist field program, which provides history education and environmentally responsible travel to some of the world’s most ecologically at-risk locations.
In addition to the gift, the archaeology program has benefitted from moving thousands of artifacts and research facilities from off-campus areas to the newly named Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology, which is now housed in the A-wing of the Clark Building on the Main Campus.
“This new center in the heart of campus will greatly enhance the significant research, educational opportunities and outreach of the department in pursuing mountain and plains archaeology,” said Kathleen Sherman, department chair. For the past 20 years, the department had housed a large number of its artifacts and conducted research offsite in what had been named the Laboratory of Public Archaeology, Sherman said.
“The new location makes this unified collection much more accessible to the students and faculty it serves. It also expands the department’s collaborations with other colleagues in the department, in other colleges on campus, in other universities, and in federal, state and local resource agencies across the region,” she said.
The Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology is home to the Archaeological Repository, which retains more than 18,000 catalog items consisting of prehistoric and historic artifacts representing a fairly complete sample of the material cultures of peoples living in the Northern Colorado region over the past 12,000 years or more.
The repository is assisted by seven undergraduate practicum students who help manage and catalog the artifacts.
For more information on the Department of Anthropology and details on tours of The Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology, contact Katie.Horton@colostate.edu.
As appearing in CSU News | April 04, 2011
Note to Reporters: Photos of Jeff Snodgrass and his virtual research team are available with the news release at www.news.colostate.edu. Snodgrass will talk about this research along with providing a live demonstration of World of Warcraft at 6 p.m. April 8 at Primrose Studio in Reservoir Ridge Natural Area, 4300 Michaud Lane in Fort Collins. If reporters are interested in attending, RSVP to Kimberly Sorensen at (970) 491-0757 or Kimberly.Sorensen@colostate.edu.
FORT COLLINS – Video game enthusiasts can become deeply involved in their game play, sometimes to the point where they block out the external environment and momentarily feel that their play space is as vivid and important as the so-called “real world” outside the game. Researchers at Colorado State University now say that such absorptive experiences can in the right circumstances actually be positive ones, providing important mental health benefits.
Two studies recently published by Jeffrey Snodgrass, associate professor of anthropology at Colorado State, examine types of video gaming experiences and the effects they can have on players’ lives, including their self-reported levels of stress, life satisfaction and happiness.
In both studies, Snodgrass and his research team examined the popular online game, World of Warcraft, which currently has about 12 million players worldwide. In the game, players develop avatars and complete tasks in cooperation with other players. The complex and highly interactive nature of the game can lead players to feel as though they have become part of a vividly compelling alternate universe that is in some important sense separate from the world outside the game.
These types of games are known as massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs. At a given time, a player could have the potential for interaction with hundreds or thousands of other players.
Immersive state of play
In the first study, “Magic Flight and Monstrous Stress: Technologies of Absorption and Mental Wellness in Azeroth,” Snodgrass and his team defined the deeply involved experiences players have as immersive or absorptive. These altered states can cause both negative and positive effects, and players’ particular out-of-game habits and levels of distress, as well as their in-game play-styles, determine the exact nature of such effects.
In addition to in-game observations, the research team conducted surveys and interviewed World of Warcraft players to learn more about their gaming experiences and habits. For the survey, they developed a set of World of Warcraft-specific psychological scales to measure how absorbed players become while involved in the game. Many players reported that playing World of Warcraft serves as a stress or tension reliever, Snodgrass said, and players who absorbed more deeply reported more stress relief.
“The idea is that if you lose yourself, you escape,” Snodgrass said. “So it’s deeply relaxing, what some gamers describe as akin to meditation, or at other times positively challenging and stimulating, like a great chess match where you’re actually one of the pieces, and we show that there are strong associations between these various states of consciousness and the game’s health benefits. But it is important to note that the escape must be controlled and temporary to be positive, so that it leads to rejuvenation rather than simple problem avoidance, which in the end only increases the experience of stress.”
Many video game studies focus on the negative and addictive aspects of game play. Snodgrass hopes that people will start to understand that addiction is only one side, albeit an important one, of video game usage—his recent studies indicate that to some degree, video game playing can be healthy.
“But we want to be careful to present a balanced portrait of online gaming,” Snodgrass said. “Our study does show that in other instances players get drawn in too much and they enjoy losing themselves too greatly. That can contribute to problematic play and what some researchers even call online gaming addiction.”
Online vs. offline friends
The second study, “Enhancing One Life Rather Than Living Two: Playing MMOs with Offline Friends,” focuses on the differences between playing video games with individuals known outside of the game and playing with people met online. Snodgrass and his colleagues determined that playing with offline friends (friends who are friends in “real life”) is healthier, because offline friends can help regulate game play. Playing with offline friends also allows players to transfer their positive gaming experiences into their real lives.
Playing with offline friends also makes it more difficult to have those immersive experiences, Snodgrass said, which can be positive or negative.
“If it’s harder to immerse, that’s a double-edged sword,” Snodgrass said. “You’re losing some benefits of playing such as reducing stress and tension, but you’re also losing some potential for addiction.”
Snodgrass’ research team included Michael G. Lacy and Jesse Fagan, CSU Department of Sociology; David E. Most, CSU School of Education; and H.J. Francois Dengah, University of Alabama, Department of Anthropology.
Both articles are currently available online. “Magic Flight and Monstrous Stress: Technologies of Absorption and Mental Wellness in Azeroth” is published in the journal Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry and can be found here. “Enhancing One Life Rather Than Living Two: Playing MMOs with Offline Friends” is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, and can be found here.
The Department has much to celebrate this year as a number of our own have been recognized for their high caliber teaching. Dr. Katherine Browne received one of six 2011 Best Teacher Awards and was selected from nearly 300 nominations.
Dr. Jason Sibold was awarded the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award and Kimberly Nichols was nominated as one of the 300 Best Teachers.
Professor Browne’s research is inspired by an effort to understand how economic life, moral frameworks, and social identities intersect, particularly in situations of cultural stress and change. These concerns and an interest in public outreach have animated all of Dr. Browne’s major research projects, books, articles, and films, projects that have been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation. For more information on Dr. Browne’s research, please click here to visit her website.
Dr. Sibold’s research focuses on the dynamics of forest ecosystems in the US Rockies, and Coast and Andes Ranges of south-central Chile. He is interested in how interactions among physical landscapes variables, climate variability and change, land use and ecosystem management, and biology shape forest characteristics, such as species composition, from stands to landscapes. His research addresses critical forest health and resilience issues facing Colorado and other regions and is centered on providing information to assist ecosystem managers and conservation organizations in developing plans for ecological restoration and adaption to potential ecological consequences of climate change. For more information on Dr. Sibold’s work, please click here to visit his website.
Kimberly Nichols research emphasizes primate functional anatomy and paleontology. She has studied the locomotor behaviors of wild Howling monkeys in Costa Rica and has worked at K-T Boundary and Eocene primate localities in the western United States and in the Fayum Depression of Egypt on paleontological projects investigating early primate evolution. Nichols has also been involved in a satellite imagery project documenting the kraal-like stone circles and horn-shaped structures built by early cattle pastoralists in the (pre-desertification) western Saharan region of Mali, Niger, and Algeria.