Pre-College Programs

February 8, 2017

Instructor Snapshot: Archaeologist Pinar Durgun

Course instructors are passionate about their subject areas, and that passion and dedication to student learning is at the center of the Summer@Brown experience.

We draw from Brown's faculty, graduate students and visiting faculty, instructors who come to Summer@Brown with a diverse range of backgrounds, experience and knowledge that they are eager to impart to Summer@Brown students. In this Snapshot series, we check in with instructors to find out more about how they approach teaching at Summer@Brown and what students can expect to take away from their class.

For the first post in the series, we talked to Pinar Durgun, an archaeologist and graduate student who works on burial practices of the Ancient Near East. Durgan taught at Summer@Brown for the first time last year. Her class, “Secrets of the Dead,” focused on both ancient and modern examples as a means to understand human experience with death and burial throughout human history.

This Summer, Pinar is teaching Live like it's 3000 BC: Introduction to Experimental Archaeology. Browse similar courses offered this summer in Anthropology, Classics and the Ancient World, Art, and Art History.

Pinar Durgun Archaeologist

"...the best way to learn a subject was to be curious about it, and get involved in it."

-Pinar Durgun, archaeologist, and Brown graduate student


I have had different teaching opportunities throughout my graduate studies both here at Brown, and in Turkey, where I did my master's. Teaching for Summer@Brown was a great opportunity to design a class I would have loved to take as an high-schooler. During my studies as an archaeology student I realized that the best way to learn a subject was to be curious about it, and get involved in it.

Learning about archaeology helps students be aware of the diversity of human cultures while realizing that as humans we share commonalities. Death is something we all share. In my class, I try to help students see the connections between the past and present. We visited a historical cemetery to do a mock archaeological survey of the Phillips Family plot, which includes the burial of the famous author H.P.Lovecraft. I wanted students to think about burials and cemeteries with an archaeological perspective. The activity helped students contextualize their own experience with death and dying and made them aware of the things they could learn from their daily life and surroundings.

The small class size enabled me to spend more time on specific topics students were curious about and gave the students more time to discuss readings or work on hands-on activities. Students were very comfortable participating and even debating with classmates. They were all very enthusiastic about the subject, which made my job really easy. Even during the breaks they were having discussions and exchanging macabre book suggestions.

I designed every day of the class in a way that would combine different learning methods: We watched documentary videos, worked in groups, looked at objects, and visited the RISD Museum and the Swan Point Cemetery to learn about different cultural ideas of death and burial. Most of the students said their favorite part of the class was the hands-on learning activities and learning about what archaeologists do. Being perceptive of the students' interests, learning strengths and preferences helped me adjust the class according to what students wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn it. This student-centered approach is what I liked the most in the classes I have taken, and perhaps what made my students have a good learning experience in my class. –Pinar Durgun