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Taking education beyond the classroom in Milwaukee

Dr. Ned Farley, assistant professor of anthropology at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC), is an advocate for students learning beyond the classroom. A few years ago, when the college’s biological anthropology major was getting started, Farley contacted the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office to inquire about placing WLC students in internships. He learned that intern positions were reserved for graduate students. He asked if he could send two WLC undergraduates there for a tour.

“The development officer from the Medical Examiner’s Office called me after that tour,” Farley said. “She was blown away by our students’ depth of knowledge and aptitude for the work that went on there. They both were accepted as interns, and we’ve had an intern there every semester since, working in the laboratory and field.”

Farley has developed relationships with the Milwaukee Public Museum too, where WLC students volunteer and present at anthropology fairs. In fact, the inspiration for a recently published research project by Farley and colleagues began there, when then-WLC student Courtney Moll ’09 began collecting data for a Wisconsin cranial research project.

Today, Professor Moll is an instructor of human anatomy and physiology in WLC’s biology department. “Two years ago I asked if Professor Moll would work with one of my students on additional research for the earlier cranial project,” Farley said. “It was a unique situation – Courtney Moll, an alumna; Lakaysha Blacksher, an undergraduate student; and I worked on the piece for more than a year.”

In September 2015, their work, “Environment, Diet, and Craniofacial Development: A Study of Mixed Subsistence Strategies in the Great Lakes Watershed, AD 900-1600,” was published in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science.