Published: Sept. 29, 2020

The University of Colorado Boulder and the SRI Foundation will jointly establish a Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology (CCSA) to advance “scientific understandings of the human past and solutions to contemporary social challenges.”

The new center will work with the SRI Foundation’s Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS), an international coalition of organizational partners and individual associates, to expand knowledge of the past to shape a more secure and just future.

According to CfAS co-Presidents Jeff Altschul and Keith Kintigh, the center “marks a milestone in moving archaeology beyond answering the who, what, when and where of the past to addressing the how and why of social dynamics in ways that are relevant to the present. Our common goal is nothing short of meeting the daunting societal challenges we face with solutions informed by the past that benefit people from all walks of life, everywhere on the planet.”

CCSA will be housed in CU Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), an interdisciplinary research institute with a research and training mission dedicated to advancing knowledge and pursuing solutions to societal challenges. 

“From its beginning more than sixty years ago, IBS has stood at the forefront of interdisciplinary efforts to bring basic research to bear on the real social problems of the contemporary world,” said IBS Director Myron Gutmann. “CCSA is the latest in a long line of outstanding initiatives in that direction. I applaud the new ideas it brings and look forward to working with CfAS to ensure its success.”

Both CfAS and CCSA were conceptualized at a workshop at the School for Advanced Research in February 2017. CfAS, which currently has 47 Partners and more than 300 Associates spread across the globe, was established in late 2017. To date, CfAS has sponsored collaborative synthetic projects on fire management and the interactions of human food webs and biodiversity, as well as a design workshop on human migration. CfAS continues to support collaborative research emerging from the migration workshop and has also begun an initiative on social inequality. In addition to administering CfAS projects and initiatives, CCSA will provide leadership and logistical support for collaborative archaeological research. To learn more about CfAS, its current initiatives, and how you can participate in the Coalition, visit

Scott Ortman, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at CU Boulder, will serve as the inaugural director of the CCSA. Upon formalizing the agreement, Ortman released the following statement:  “I am delighted to help establish the center as a partner organization to CfAS, and as an international hub that will expand the relevance of archaeological research for contemporary issues. I am deeply grateful to the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis, the University of Colorado Boulder, the Institute of Behavioral Science, and the Department of Anthropology for their support of this endeavor.”