Summer 2006

SCIE 670
Forensic Anthropology: Human Remains and the Law


06/26/2006 - 08/10/2006
Tuesday & Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Science Tower 139

Forensic anthropology is the medicolegal application of biological anthropological methods, generally pertaining to the identification of human remains. When badly decomposed, burned, and skeletonized remains are discovered, a forensic anthropologist is usually called in by law enforcement officials to help establish identity and aid in ascertaining time and manner of death. Forensic anthropologists maintain a skill set different from that of the average forensic pathologist, one that cross-cuts human osteology, archaeology, and comparative vertebrate anatomy.

The course begins with an overview of the history of forensic anthropology and a review of human osteology, in particular, we focus on the growth, structure, and histology of the human skeleton. Next, we consider the methods used by forensic anthropologists to aid in personal identification--the determination of age, sex, stature, and ancestry, and the identification of occupational markers, evidence of medical history, and indications of perimortem trauma. The role of the forensic anthropologist in the recovery of remains and crime scene investigation are explored, and we examine the role of specialists with whom they interact, such as crime investigators, forensic odontologists, forensic entomologists, and forensic pathologists. Lastly, we consider the role of forensic anthropologist as expert witness and the laws pertaining to the treatment of human remains.

The text for this course will be Introduction to Forensic Anthropology by Steven Byers.

Students will be evaluated based on classroom discussion/participation, several short, case-oriented writing assignments, and a research paper on a topic relevant to the course. The research paper will be broken down into three smaller graded assignments: formulation of the topic, a rough draft, and the final draft.

A field trip to the State of Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory in Meriden will be scheduled, where you will get a personal introduction to specialists who work there and the methods they use to solve Connecticut crimes. The date and time of this trip will be determined after class meets so as to arrange the most convenient time for all enrolled.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Jolee West (B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) is Director of Academic Computing Services and Digital Projects at Wesleyan University, and a Research Affiliate of the Department of Anthropology. She has conducted archaeological and taphonomic research in Illinois and northern Kenya. Specializing in physical anthropology, faunal analysis and archaeological taphonomy, she has published on topics in forensic anthropology, Illinois bioarchaeology, and archaeological and palaeontological taphonomy. Click here for more information about Jolee West.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Steven Byers, INTRODUCTION TO FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY (Allyn and Bacon), Hardcover


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