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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


Comparative Osteology (Bone Identification) $249.00
Program postponed. Dates TBD | 9:00am-5:00pm


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.

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

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

Fragmentary Human Osteology......... $499
Program postponed. Dates TBD  | 9:00am-5:00pm


Human osteology, or the study of the skeleton, provides the basis for biological anthropology. Having an intricate understanding of all 206 bones as well as the micro- and macroscopic properties of bones is essential for professionals and students tasked with skeletal analysis. Throughout this hands-on, five-day course participants will learn to identify and side skeletal elements in whole and fragmented form; understand the basics of bone biology and bone mechanics; and be able to recognize normal human variation from abnormal variation caused by pathology, trauma, or taphonomy. Participants will be tested on their knowledge through daily quizzes. This course is geared towards medicolegal professionals and undergraduate- and graduate- level university students. No previous knowledge is required.

Accommodations:  On-campus accommodations are available in single and double occupancy packages which include a full meal plan starting with dinner on Sunday night. Single occupancy rooms share a bath with the room next door. Double occupancy rooms have their own bath.
Single Occupancy with meals...... $385.00 pp
Double Occpancy with meals...... $335.00 pp
Check-in for on-campus stays will be Sunday, June 21 from 2pm to 5pm.

Recommended text: The Human Bone Manual, 1st edition by Tim White and Peter Folkens

Primary Audience: Medicolegal professionals/undergraduate or graduate level college-level students

Students looking at skull


Tales from the Dead:
A Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
for High School Students............$299

Program postponed. Dates TBD
| 9:00am-5:00pm | Day camp only

This course is designed to introduce high school level students ages 15-18 to the field of forensic anthropology. The course will include both instructional and laboratory components and is designed to be hands-on, as students will be working with real human skeletal remains. Throughout the course, students will learn basic methods of laboratory analysis of human remains, including the estimation of the biological profile (sex, age, ancestry, and stature), human identification, pathology, taphonomy, and trauma as well as strategies for the search and recovery of skeletal remains. Students will apply their knowledge to selected case studies, which they will present at the completion of the course. 

Recommended Text (not required):  Forensic Anthropology: Current Methods and Practice, 2nd Edition by Angie M. Christensen, Nicholas V. Passalacqua, and Eric J. Bartelink.



John Williams


John A. Williams, Ph.D., D-ABFA, is a forensic anthropologist with over 40 years’ experience working with human skeletons and human remains. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and is one of approximately 90 active board certified forensic anthropologists. Over the past four decades he has worked with medical examiners, the FBI, and law enforcement agencies across the United States. As a member of the Federal agency, DMORT, he has assisted in the identification of mass fatality victims including two airline crashes and the 911 terrorist attack. In 2005 he established at Western Carolina University the FOREST, the second human decomposition research facility.


Christine Bailey


Christine A. Bailey, M.A., is an instructor in Anthropology and the Forensic Anthropology Facilities Curator at Western Carolina University. Christine received her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in August 2018. She is a biological anthropologist whose research interests include human skeletal biology, forensic anthropology, taphonomy, human rights, and best practices in forensic anthropology. Her master’s research titled “Age-at-death Estimation: Accuracy and Reliability of Age-Reporting Strategies,” focused on evaluating age-at-death estimation methods commonly used in forensic investigations.

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