Gain a new understanding of New York City’s rich history through the surprising array of material traces discovered beneath its surface

Bard Graduate Center is excited to announce its 2023 Undergraduate Summer Program in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. Running July 10 to 21, this year’s program will be Excavating the Empire City: An Introduction to the Historical Archaeology of New York City, led by Professor Meredith Linn. Combining seminars and site visits, it will present a new understanding of the city’s history, from its days as a Dutch colony to the twentieth century. Scholarship assistance and student housing are available. The course is eligible for three upper-level undergraduate credits.

Program dates: Monday, July 10 – Friday, July 21, 2023
Contact: [email protected]

Course Description

Excavating the Empire City: An Introduction to the Historical Archaeology of New York City
Prof. Meredith Linn

This two-week summer course will introduce students to the historical archaeology of New York City and to the surprisingly rich array of material traces of the past that have been discovered beneath the surface of this global, future-oriented city. The course will begin with a brief introduction to archaeological methods and then embark upon a chronologically and thematically organized survey of what historical archaeological studies since the late 1970s, most catalyzed by federal and local historic preservation laws, have contributed to our understanding of the city’s history, from its days as a Dutch colony to the twentieth century. Along the way, students will examine different approaches to interpreting material evidence and its relationship to written texts. We will also investigate what archaeological objects can tell us about the relationships between larger historical trends or events and the lives of people “on the ground,” focusing especially upon populations that have been neglected or misrepresented in written histories. Topics will include colonization; enslavement and freedom; urbanization and environmental change and health; middle-class ideology; immigration; working-class neighborhoods and the intersection of class-, race- or ethnic-, and gender-based discrimination; and community formation.

Morning seminars will be followed by afternoon guided visits to museums and memorials, archaeological sites, and the New York City Archaeological Repository, where students will select an archaeological object to research. There are no prerequisites, and newcomers to archaeology are welcome.

Course Features
  • Seminars taught by Bard Graduate Center faculty
  • Visits to New York City museums and collections
  • Access to Bard Graduate Center’s Library, Digital Media Lab, and Object Lab
  • Scholarship support and student housing available
To Apply


Currently enrolled undergraduate students and recent graduates from accredited institutions may apply. Recommended majors: art history, anthropology, archaeology, classics, gender and sexuality studies, fashion studies, museum studies, religious studies. All students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

How to Apply

April 15: Applications due
May 1: Notification
May 22: Decisions and deposits due

Tuition: $5,886 (three credits)
Tuition: $2,945 (not for credit)
Housing: $775

*These are the tuition rates for summer 2023. Your deposit will be credited toward your tuition. Students who withdraw from the program before the first day of class will receive a full refund. If withdrawal occurs within the first two days of the course, 80 percent of the tuition will be refunded. After 5 pm on the second day of the course there is no refund.

Limited scholarship money is available. Priority will be given to those taking the course for credit. Students who wish to be considered for scholarships must complete a FASFA by April 15, 2023. Bard Graduate Center’s FAFSA number is 002671.

Housing is available at Bard Hall near Columbus Circle and within walking distance of Bard Graduate Center. Students will share spacious two-bedroom apartments that include private bedrooms and shared common areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. The housing cost for the two week-program is $775 per student.

Bard Graduate Center is unable to provide visa sponsorship for foreign nationals to participate in this program. International participants must have authorization from their sponsoring institution before they enroll, they must have an immigration status that allows them to register for academic coursework.