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Highlands Launches New Online Professional MA in Cultural Resource Management Program

Dr. Orit Tamir at Chaco Canyon

Dr. Orit Tamir

June 30, 2021

Ongoing demand for project management training in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) led Dr. Orit Tamir, professor of cultural anthropology at New Mexico Highlands University, to design a new online master’s program for professional anthropologists. In addition to providing comprehensive training, this new master’s in CRM will help graduates earn higher salaries in their field.  

The CRM master’s degree will replace a certificate program at Highlands University and will give students a comprehensive education in the practical applications of managing projects for state, federal, tribal, and private entities licensed to conduct research in New Mexico. After Nevada, New Mexico has the second highest concentration of jobs in anthropology in the U.S., making Highlands University an ideal school to offer a degree in CRM. The program is enrolling students for the fall semester. 

To accommodate working professionals and those who do not live near the university, the new MA in CRM program will be offered entirely online. The program shares many courses in common with the Southwest Studies graduate program, but Tamir notes that the two programs are very distinct. Whereas Southwest Studies offers a broad theoretical knowledge base, the new CRM program is geared toward methodology such as conducting surveys and navigating regulations. 

“There are very few CRM programs around the country and even fewer online, but it’s a requirement to have a master’s degree to become a principal investigator,” said Tamir.   

With oil and gas production and increased development across New Mexico and the West, there is an ongoing demand for CRM project managers trained in navigating the technical, bureaucratic, and cultural aspects of protecting important sites or objects.  

“Agencies need to figure out if there are important indigenous or Hispano cultural sites,” said Tamir.  “And if so, project managers need to evaluate how to negotiate protections, how to implement a collection survey, what to do when you run into a site that was previously unknown, or how to handle human remains.” 

Core classes in the CRM program will include Field Methods in Archaeology, Surveying and Geographic Information Systems, and Cultural Resource Management, among others. Students may also take two electives and choose from options such as Ceramics Analysis, Environmental Minerology, and Lithic Tech & Analysis.  

“Working professionals in the field in New Mexico, southern Arizona or Colorado, can now earn that CRM degree from Highlands entirely via distance,” said Brandon Kempner, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “As we’re coming out of COVID, we’re pleased to be providing new opportunities for our students that allow them to advance their professional standing.”  

Tamir said she is excited about students learning about what she describes as the “nuts and bolts” of project management in the field. “More than half of the jobs for individuals with degrees in anthropology work in CRM,” Tamir said. “You can find a job with a bachelor’s degree, but your advancement will be blocked. The new program is geared toward CRM professionals who seek to advance themselves by getting a master’s degree, or for those who want to work in CRM.” 

For more information about the new Cultural Resource Management program visit the CRM program’s webpage or contact Orit Tamir at crm@nmhu.edu.