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The School of Human Evolution and Social Change is home to research centers covering a range of themes. These centers bring together teams of cross-disciplinary – often multi-institutional – researchers in pursuit of use-inspired outcomes. They also provide training opportunities for students seeking practical experience designing and executing projects under the supervision of acclaimed social scientists. Our research centers are equipped with the latest technology and are fertile ground for exploration of discovery in such areas as anthropological genetics, urbanization, global health challenges and more.
The Center for Archaeology and Society pursues cutting-edge research in Southwest U.S. archaeology that exploits the field’s unique ability to acquire knowledge of ancient cultures to inform the present; curates extensive archaeological and ethnographic collections; manages and makes available its digital resources through ASU’s Center for Digital Antiquity; provides a hands-on context for training students in ASU Museums Studies degree and certificate programs; and engages the public through exhibits of faculty research and interpretations of the extensive rock art at its Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. The center encompasses and expands the research, curation, education and outreach activities formerly associated with the Archaeological Research Institute, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, the Museum of Anthropology collections and exhibits and the Southwest Archaeological Field School.
Learn more about the Center for Archaeology and Society.
Founded by bioarchaeology pioneer and National Academy of Sciences member Jane Buikstra, the Center for Bioarchaeological Research seeks to discover and communicate new knowledge about past peoples' experiences with health and disease, along with their cultural and environmental contexts. The first of its kind in Arizona, the center conducts research not typically covered by traditional researchers in the biomedical, environmental and conservation fields. Our research and teaching emphasize contextualization and problem orientation, as well as the latest methodological training. Students learn not only human osteology and various analytical and laboratory procedures, but also how to interpret the data resulting from these methods within a broad, comparative anthropological framework for bioarchaeological problem-solving and engagement with contemporary issues.
Learn more about the Center for Bioarchaeological Research.
The challenges of creating global health are some of the most complex and difficult we face. The Center for Global Health advances innovative approaches to understand and address health as a critical and complex part of the broader human condition. To do this, we integrate cutting-edge methods and theories from the social and life sciences, including such fields as medical anthropology, mathematical epidemiology, genetics, history, human biology, sociology and geography. We use these tools to question our most basic assumptions about why people get sick and what we should do about it, and to imagine and test better models for how science can work with communities across the globe to develop and sustain projects and partnerships that result in meaningful and sustainable health improvements that can transcend political, social and geographic boundaries.
Learn more about the Center for Global Health.
The Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity leverages the emerging field of complex systems to foster interdisciplinary research on fundamental questions of social life. Supported by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in partnership with the School of Life Sciences, the center brings together scientists from such diverse fields as anthropology, biology, mathematics, philosophy, physics, psychology and sociology to collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams.
Research foci fall into four broad clusters: innovation and evolution; cohesion, cooperation and conflict; socioecology; and social allometry. Research projects integrate theoretical and empirical work, and often employ multilevel simulation and network dynamics as research approaches. The center provides interdisciplinary seminars and informal interaction opportunities for affiliates, hosts visiting speakers and organizes workshops involving the participation of national- and international-level scholars.
Learn more about the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity.
The Center for Digital Antiquity is devoted to enhancing preservation of and access to the archaeological record. DA oversees and maintains the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), a digital archive and repository curating digital data from archaeological investigations and research from around the world. The materials preserved in tDAR document the archaeological record, the efforts of the archaeological and scientific community, and the material and social characteristics of the cultures studied. tDAR serves the needs of a wide range of archaeologists, researchers, organizations and institutions who use or manage archaeological resources. It enables wide-ranging comparative archaeological research capable of advancing our understanding of the past and our present-day management of archaeological resources.
Learn more about Digital Antiquity.
Read the tDAR blog.
The Institute of Human Origins is one of the preeminent research organizations in the world devoted to the science of human origins. A research center of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with faculty teaching in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, IHO pursues an integrative strategy for research and discovery central to its over 30-year-old founding mission, bridging social, earth, and life science approaches to the most important questions concerning the course, causes, and timing of events in the human career over deep time. IHO fosters public awareness of human origins and its relevance to contemporary society through innovative outreach programs that create timely, accurate information for both education and lay communities.
Learn more about the Institute of Human Origins.
Obesity Solutions is a joint effort with the Mayo Clinic to identify evidence-based strategies that work for real people in the real world. As medicine and public health struggle with obesity, we need transdisciplinary innovations in how we understand and treat this major global challenge.
Learn more about Obesity Solutions.
The Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center is a research center that encourages quantitative scientists and mathematicians from all corners of the university to focus on research driven by "solutions" rather than "disciplines."
Their vision is to train a new generation of diverse, cross-disciplinary researchers who specialize in applying computational, mathematical, modeling, and simulation approaches to solving problems that will improve the human condition.
Learn more about MCMSC.
The School of Human Evolution and Social Change, through the research of George Cowgill and Saburo Sugiyama, has become the leading North American institution for Teotihuacan studies. Cowgill, whose archaeological research at Teotihuacan spans nearly five decades, continues to play a large role in ASU's research center at this UNESCO World Heritage site, located 25 miles northeast of Mexico City.
Cowgill's innovative studies of the spatial organization of Teotihuacan from the map and database created by the Teotihuacan Mapping Project (in which he participated in the 1960s) provided the first knowledge of the city's growth and decline over six centuries. His comparative analyses of ancient states, cities and empires, including trends in demography, population growth and collapse have relevance for studies of the modern world. In recent decades ASU research teams have unearthed evidence of human and animal sacrifice, ancient treasures in great pyramids and the modest dwellings of commoners.
Through the ASU Teotihuacan Research Laboratory, ASU faculty, students and staff collaborate on projects with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History. The lab regularly plays host to research teams from institutions including Stanford University, Dartmouth College and Penn State, allowing them to excavate and explore this ancient city, which at its zenith (around AD 500) was the sixth largest city in the world.
Learn more about the Teotihuacan Research Laboratory.
The ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine is a university-wide presidential initiative whose mission is to improve human health by establishing evolutionary biology as an essential basic science for medicine, worldwide. The center brings leading scientists to ASU to join existing faculty in research that demonstrates the power of evolutionary biology to address problems in medicine and public health. The new courses and degrees they create will begin to meet the growing demand for such experiences, and will educate a generation of future researchers and health professionals. Many of these experiences will be at ASU, and some will be in conjunction with the new Mayo medical school, but others will be available online open access worldwide, providing the authoritative content that has long been needed to bridge the gap between evolutionary biology and medicine.
Learn more about the Center for Evolution and Medicine.
The Global Impact Collaboratory brings together leading social scientists with highly experienced development practitioners to transform how we plan for and demonstrate the impacts of development programs on people and their communities. Our goal is to answer two questions: How can we ensure our international development projects are really working? How can we make sure what we learn on projects, about what really works, is widely shared?
We focus our efforts on supporting programs that have people at their core, where local behavior and attitude change is needed for success. Such projects are harder to design for success, and trickier to monitor well to show meaningful impact.
Learn more about the Global Impact Collaboratory.