Category Archives: Praxis Independent Study Courses

Elena Teeter, Archaeology, BMC ‘23

Practical Experience in Archaeology

Faculty Advisor: Astrid Lindenlauf

Field Site: Bryn Mawr Ella Riegel Study Collection

Field Supervisor: Astrid Lindenlauf

Praxis Poster:

Elena Teeter_Final Poster


Further Context:

As an archaeology student, I have always understood the importance of fieldwork, especially through excavation. However, after already experiencing excavations, I was curious about other responsibilities an archaeologist may have. After collaborating with Professor Lindenlauf, we came up with a project where I could work with sherds (what archaeologists call pottery fragments) that have been acquired by the college as a study collection. I also happen to be a ceramicist in my free time, so I was very excited about being able to combine two of my interests into this project. The pottery I worked with came from an archaeological site in Egypt called Naukratis. Naukratis is an important site because it was the location of a Greek merchant colony and the pottery I worked with is Greek. There has been a long history of excavation and survey at the site, which was discovered by the famous archaeologist Flinders Petrie. More recently, however, two American archaeologists, William Coulson and Albert Leonard Jr, conducted a series of surveys and excavations beginning in the 1970s.

My project involved numerous tasks. I learned how to take photographs of pottery sherds which was a  much more detailed task than I was expecting. I also learned how to edit the photos I took through Adobe Bridge. In addition, I did a lot of documentation on the sherds including measurements and Munsell readings. Munsell refers to a book of color samples much like a book full of paint samples. However, the colors are used to compare to soil (in this case pottery which comes from soil). This means that instead of calling a sherd a color like brown or tan you can give a very specific Munsell reading and someone who has never seen the sherd but has a Munsell book can know the color of the clay used to make that piece of pottery.

My photographs and documentation were all uploaded onto a database known as EmbARK. EmbARK is how Special Collections keeps track of all of the accession numbers (unique numbers given to artifacts to help organize and keep track of the objects) it has. Eventually, art and artifacts get uploaded to TriArte ( which is how the public can view items in the college’s collection. EmbARK was especially important in naming the photographs I took because each photograph must have a different name in order to differentiate it. Photographs were not just of the sherds themselves, I also used an overhead book scanner to take photos of labels from the archaeological survey and excavations. The labels were also added to EmbARK after I cropped and named them.

Additionally, I spent a lot of time learning about collections in relation to archaeological artifacts. I was able to spend some time with Marianne Weldon of Special Collections to rehouse objects. Using special foams and glue I was able to construct a safer storage box for a series of oil lamps in Special Collections. I also did some research with Marianne Weldon on a few reproductions of Greek pottery that the college has. The research was also added to the EmbARK database.

The final component of my project was a final paper. For this final paper, I looked at some of the sherds I was working with for signs that they had been reused or repaired in antiquity. One very obvious sign of repair is drill holes. To repair a broken vessel, holes are often drilled in the fragments so that they can be reconnected to each other with string or metal clamps. Bitumen is sometimes used to seal the cracks after this process. On the other hand, reuse can be identified when there are unusual patterns of wear on a sherd. Broken pottery fragments can often be quite angular but if the edges are unusually rounded or the surface is unusually scratched it could be an indicator that the sherd had another function after the vessel broke but before it was disposed of. My paper is written as an object biography. This means that, much like the biography of a person, I wrote about the sherds as they went through different stages of their “life.” They began as one vessel, but after breaking they underwent a new stage of life whether that be a whole new function or a reconstructed vessel.



Mariam Mshvidobadze, Environmental Studies, BMC ‘22

Architecture and Sustainability

Faculty Advisor: Min Kyung Lee

Field Site: Voith & Mactavish Architects

Field Supervisor: Daniela Holt Voith

Praxis Poster:

Mariam's Poster_revised


Further Context:

Hello. My name is Mariam. In my senior year of college, I decided to take a Praxis Independent Study course, which is a great opportunity for students to get practical experience in their field of interest. My major at BMC is Environmental Studies with the concentration in urban sustainability. My goal for the course was to choose the fieldwork location that would help me narrow down my list of interests in the field and determine what kind of path I want to take post-graduation. I asked my professor in the Architecture Design course if her architecture firm—Voith and Mactavish Architects—could become my field site for the PIS course and thankfully, I got a yes for an answer. I wanted to closely stick to my area of interest, which is the sustainable design and development, so we decided that I would mainly be working alongside VMA’s sustainability coordinator.

The general focus of the course that I named Architecture & Sustainability was to get familiar with the architectural design process, which encompasses project planning, file and material organization, and the analysis of sites and renderings. Throughout the course, attention was given to why sustainability is significant to architecture, how architecture impacts the environment and climate change, as well as how sustainability is measured in architecture and the methods used to achieve sustainability goals.

From the start of the semester, my faculty advisor of PIS course—Min Kyung Lee—supplemented me with readings and other materials that would help me understand the importance of practice that I was conducting at VMA. We had bi-weekly check-ins where we would discuss what type of tasks I had been doing at VMA and how they benefited my personal growth and supported my learning objectives. Fieldwork at VMA improved my design knowledge and skills. Through mentorship of the sustainability coordinator and other staff members, I learned how to work in teams in a professional setting, became sensitive to the details of architectural practice, and understood the complexity of managing the architectural design office.

I greatly appreciate each individual who helped me in shaping the course in a way that would satisfy my interests and benefit me the most. I want to give big thanks to Liv Raddatz, Min Kyung Lee, Daniela Holt Voith, and Kaetlin McGee for allowing me to experience the world of architecture and for caring about my academic, career, and personal growth.

Estefania Torres, Environmental Studies, BMC ‘23 & Saiqian Xiao, Growth and Structure of Cities, BMC ‘23

Urban Climate Action

Faculty Advisors: Don Barber & Victor Donnay

Field Site: Delaware County, Office of Sustainability

Field Supervisors: Sharon Jaye, Rebecca Ross, Julie DelMuto

Praxis Posters:

Estefania & Saiqian Final Poster 1


Estefania & Saiqian Final Poster 2


Further Context:

This is the second semester of a year-long Praxis program with the Local Climate Action Program in Delaware County. This semester we continued our work with the Office of Sustainability and facilitated the development of a context-based local climate action plan (CAP). With the inventory (chart found in the left) of community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the results of public engagement, we proposed feasible mitigation strategies for the county. We learned and utilized Clearpath to model these local approaches, through which the goal of carbon neutrality will be met by 2050, as shown in the right. Clearpath is an application that allows us to create a forecast of the county’s carbon emissions and view the effects of our mitigation strategies. These policy suggestions and action planning will assist Delaware County’s Sustainability Commission in improving and implementing their larger climate action planning goals.

The LCAP program served as a real-world application of our environmental studies knowledge, implement data applications, and to develop professional skills. We both practiced  how to work collaboratively and communicate multilaterally. The combination of remote online working sessions and field site visits, maximized the experience of this internship. The program allowed us to present and discuss our projects with our supervisors, faculty advisors, and local officials and practitioners, improving our professional communication skills and broadening our understanding of the environmental industry.

Praxis Course Highlights: