Forensic minor provides hands-on experience for students

Carrie Whalen

Kat Flood, a senior anthropology major, applied for the forensic anthropology minor the day it became available in 2017.

“Originally I started with the minor in hopes to learn different things and get a feel for the things that I’m interested in,” Flood said. “Now I hope to do more in forensics, potentially working in forensic anthropology for my masters.”

Linda Spurlock, an associate professor of philosophy, and Anthony Tosi, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology, developed some of the classes offered for the minor, such as the forensic archaeology field school, coined ‘pig dig,’ which takes a year of preparation beforehand.

“My favorite class, other than the DNA genetics, would be Dr. Spurlock’s ‘pig dig,’” Flood said. “It’s honestly an amazing class. You get to do field work, and you get to really learn how to do what you need if you want to do criminal forensics, historical or archeological.”

In the forensic archaeology field school, students find the graves of the prepared pig skeletons dressed in clothes and staged to be the victim of a murder case. Students figure out the details of the skeletons, such as gender, wounds and the position of the body.

“Students are getting a very authentic experience,” said Linda Spurlock, associate professor of philosophy. “We have a unique perspective that we can share with students.”

Taylor Feldt, a graduate student who works for the Summit County medical examiner’s office as a death investigator, assisted Spurlock in preparation for her class.

“(The TV show) ‘Bones’ is not how things happen, ‘C.S.I. Miami’ is not how things happen and neither is ‘Law and Order,’” Feldt said. “Those are awesome shows to watch but that’s really not how things are done. If you’re interested in the field, this minor can give you a real feel of how things are really like.”

Common majors for this minor include anthropology, psychology and criminal justice. Students must take a minimum of 18 credit hours to complete this minor, with classes in the anthropology department and the criminology and justice studies program.

“It’s not for everybody,” Feldt said. “Not everybody has a healthy relationship with death.”

Carrie Whalen cover social sciences. Contact her at [email protected].