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Forensic Anthropology & Related Programs

WCU's Forensic Anthropology Program along with the Division of Educational Outreach, are pleased to offer these unique workshops to Law Enforcement personnel, medicolegal professionals as well as undergraduate or graduate level college-level students. We even offer a special summer day camp for high school students. All workshops are held on WCU's campus in Cullowhee.


Women identifying bones


Forensic Anthropology and Burned Remains

May 17-19, 2024 |   $349   |  Limt 40
Starts at 1:00pm on Friday, May 17.

Cullowhee Campus

Register Online

This course will act as an introduction and brief survey of forensic anthropology and the analysis of burned human remains. The course is meant for investigators that may encounter human remains in various states of thermal alteration. Course topics will include: the evaluation of material for medicolegal significance; human and non-human osteology; skeletal trauma analysis; taphonomic analysis; and recovery strategies for fire scenes including burned human remains. Note this class will include a hands-on component using a controlled-burn scene with human remains. 

This course is open to professional fire and death investigators only. Restrictions may apply. 

Comparative Osteology (Bone ID) - TBA

Primary Audience: Law Enforcement/medicolegal professionals/undergraduate or graduate level college-level student

Understanding the difference between human and non-human skeletal elements is crucial for forensic anthropologists, law enforcement, death investigators, as well as archaeologists. This course introduces participants to the field of osteology, or the study of the skeleton. During this course, participants will learn various methods for distinguishing human bone from non-human bone, using both human and non-human skeletons as hands-on teaching tools.  This course is geared towards law enforcement, medicolegal professionals and undergraduate- and graduate- level university students. No previous knowledge is required.

Tentative Schedule:

Day 1 - Introduction, osteology terminology and human osteology basics, axial skeleton 
Day 2 - Review, appendicular skeleton, lab sessions 

Recommended Text: Comparative Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Guide of Common North American Animals, 1st Edition by Brad Adams and Pam Crabtree

Forensic Archaeology and Outdoor Human Remains Recovery - Dates TBA

This course will introduce participants to forensic archaeology, forensic taphonomy, and the use of these sciences in forensic anthropological casework. The course will include approximately two days of classroom lecture and three days of outdoor fieldwork. Both class and field aspects of this course will include hands-on experiences with real, willed-body human remains. The recovery portion will focus on the excavation of donors at WCU’s human decomposition facility, the FOREST. Participants of the course will gain practical knowledge and experience identifying, recording, and recovering buried human remains.

Student Learning Outcomes:

- Understand the theoretical and methodological approaches of forensic archaeology
- Execute surface and sub-surface searches for remains
- Execute a systematic recovery of surface and sub-surface remains and evidence
- Generate maps based on fieldwork
- Generate reports based on fieldwork

On-Campus Accommodations
Participants may choose to stay on campus if they wish. Room & board plans are sold as packages and cannot be customized.  The plan includes 5-nights lodging (single occupancy) in a residence hall with a basic linen component. Rooms are very basic but comfortable. Check-in for on-campus stays will be Sunday June 19 from 5pm to 7pm. Meals will start with breakfast on Monday and will include 3 meals a day through lunch on Friday.

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