Russell Greaves portrait
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Anthropology Department

Teaching Philosophy

My interdisciplinary approach to anthropology combines dynamic teaching of archaeology, ethnography, and biological anthropology to examine different perspectives on human behavior. Undergraduate students require a mixture of exposure to basic anthropological knowledge, relevant anthropological understanding of modern traditional lifeways, awareness of scientific ambiguities, and challenges that lead to personal strategies of learning. In addition to the presentation of current knowledge, the essential methods of constructively criticizing accepted understanding should lead to productive optimism about building scientific knowledge. Graduate students should be challenged to examine the methodological and theoretical issues involved in the production of data from empirical facts, foster analytic skills, novel perspectives on crucial questions, and debating germane understanding of human nature, behavioral variability, and anthropological contributions to the greater society. Mentoring requires sensitivity to individual student interests and abilities to encourage rewarding interactions that stimulate personal learning experiences connecting them to the growth of method, knowledge, and practice. Through my broad experience, I also link my teaching of anthropology to associated issues of environmental sciences, sustainability, demography, and human biology and health. Students consider my classes challenging and especially interesting because of my varied archaeological and ethnographic background. I have received consistently high teaching evaluations. I enjoy teaching motivated and interested students.

Courses I Teach

  • ANTH 2030 - Archaeology
    This course examines the expanse of topics, methods, and goals encompassed by archaeology to introduce the vast archaeological record of human variation in the past and the methods used to retrieve and analyze archaeological data. Archaeological information also will be compared with perspectives on modern traditional societies. This course will emphasize scientific approaches that seek to describe and understand past human behavior and adaptation. Material presented includes historical information about the archaeological record of hominid evolution, archaeological methods and goals, anthropology of living peoples, the development of scientific method within the field, and current trends in the development of archaeological theory. More detailed descriptions of dating techniques, archaeological survey, excavation, technology, ethnoarchaeology, and subsistence will be presented. Interpretations from the archaeological record of the Paleolithic, later hunter-gatherers, food producers, and complex societies will be used as examples of archaeological method, although the focus of this class is not on the historical presentation of archaeological evidence of global changes through time. Research techniques for using processes observable in the modern world to develop inferences about the past will be a critical focus. Human diversity in the past, and among present traditional societies, will be examined in relation to environmental and social impacts of different economies and scales of organization. This course will emphasize the importance of ecological adaptations of prehistoric and contemporary peoples.
  • The Evolution of Technology - ANTH 4692
    An important aspect of what makes us human is the unique diversity of technological behaviors practiced by hominins. This class addresses the evolution of technological activities that can be inferred from the archaeological record, hominin functional morphology, comparisons with other primate tool use, and examination of modern human traditional technologies. Readings, lectures, and discussions will emphasize how technological use is directly allied with critical biological adaptations of subsistence, shelter, and physical protection as well as other behaviors that helped ancestral hominins and contemporary humans occupy highly variable environments across all parts of earth. Human diversity in the past, and present traditional societies, will be examined in relation to environmental and social impacts of different economies and scales of organization. This course will emphasize the importance of ecological adaptations of prehistoric and contemporary peoples. The objectives of this course are: 1) to familiarize students with the archaeological and ethnographic record of material culture, (i.e., stone tools, ceramics, wooden implements, housing, basketry, and cloth); 2) to explore the development of anthropological study of ethnographic and archaeological issues of technology and behaviors reliant on material culture; 3) to examine the relationships between environments, subsistence, human biology and the production and use of traditional technological systems; and 4) to consider how the anthropological record of traditional technologies is related to our modern conceptions of technologically dependent human culture.

Teaching Projects

  • Museum Exhibit Development: Effective Visual Communication. Project Lead: Russell D. Greaves. Collaborators: Christina Hodge, Richard Wrangham. Production costs donated by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University 02/2012 - 04/2012.

Student Projects

  • Museum exhibit for HEB 1325 class, Evolution of Technology. Teaching display (March 19-April 9, 2012), Measuring Complexity of Tools. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Aleah Bowie; Elizabeth Colbert; Priya Karve; Charlotte Lane; Andrew Lorey; Tho Nguyen; James Pitt; Madelaine Zhu. 02/2012 - 04/2012