ENST 485 Course Information
The course is divided into two sections: the Belize component and the USC component. The first part of the class will consist of the Belize component in which students observe archaeological excavations at Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, and Uxbenká; learn how dig sites and artifacts can be interpreted in an anthropological context for the ancient Maya civilization; and observe and learn about modern and historic cultural Belizean interactions with the environment, particularly in regards to agriculture and environmental degradation.
Students will travel to different excavation sites, caves, and natural attractions for about six days in Punta Gorda. This portion of the trip is somewhat physically demanding, with several moderate hikes to remote areas. After this portion, the class will kick back a bit before returning to USC by spending about three days in Placencia on the beach, snorkeling, or taking a river tour.
Upon returning to USC, students will have about ten days of lecture to tie in what was learned in Belize, culminating in each student developing their own mock NSF-style research proposal on a chosen researched hypothesis for the collapse of the Mayan civilization, which will be presented to the class.
Required texts for the class include The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse by David Webster (pictured above) and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (pictured at right). Additional articles may be added to the reading list at the instructor's discretion.
The course will take place during "May-mester" - a three week session, the class will begin after spring semester approximately at the beginning of the summer session, but will end the first week of June. Students may be required to attend one or more pre-Belize meetings and orientations during the spring semester before the trip.