A new postgraduate programme will be the first in the UK to offer students an overseas field module where they will contribute to investigations of war crimes.
As part of the new MSc in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Lincoln, UK, students will have the opportunity to participate in exhumations and see first-hand the work of forensic anthropologists in Guatemala.
Forensic Anthropology involves the analysis and identification of human remains. People with these skills are becoming increasingly valued during mass grave investigations and disaster recovery.
Specialists Gillian Fowler and Dr Lucy Easthope from Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences will train students in techniques required for effective fieldwork. The course will place particular emphasis on the role of the expert witness and presentation of evidence. The programme also focuses on human rights and the value of forensic anthropology in international criminal investigations.
Gillian is a Forensic Anthropologist with extensive experience working in post-conflict mass grave exhumations, initially in Guatemala and more recently in Afghanistan.
She spent six years with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala. While there she was involved in the exhumation of mass graves containing victims of the country’s uprising against the military dictatorship in the 1980s.
More recently, Gillian contributed to a special report by the group Physicians for Human Rights’ (PHR) outlining steps Afghanistan can take to help identify the victims of the country’s 35-year conflict.
Gillian said: “The skills that forensic anthropologists possess are becoming increasingly valued in international criminal and mass fatality investigations. This MSc is responding to the need to train a new generation of anthropologists who can make an important contribution to future investigations of this nature.”
As an expert in mass fatality disasters Dr Easthope has advised governments, corporations and relief agencies in the aftermath of major incidents, including the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes in New Zealand, as well as developing contingency plans, training programmes and exercises with a number of international organisations.
She specialises in mass fatalities planning, disaster victim identification (DVI), community recovery and the care of survivors, the bereaved and the deceased after disaster.
This programme consists of lectures, seminars and practical laboratory sessions with hands-on experience of working with the University’s extensive skeletal collection. Simulated crime scene investigations (including a large mass grave exercise) and ‘mooting’ (simulated court proceedings) also feature. Students will have exclusive use of a dedicated bone laboratory where they can work independently on the University’s extensive skeletal collection to enhance their osteology knowledge, which underpins the work of a forensic anthropologist.
The course makes use of state-of-the-art equipment in the laboratories of the College of Science, including the new multi-million pound Joseph Banks Laboratories which will open in summer 2014.