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Center for Curriculum and Transfer Articulation
Forensic Anthropology
Course: ASM275

First Term: 2018 Fall
Lec + Lab   4.0 Credit(s)   5.0 Period(s)   5.0 Load  
Subject Type: Academic
Load Formula: T Lab Load

Description: Survey of the role of forensic anthropologists, from the crime scene to the courtroom. Course focuses on how skeletal analysis can aid in medicolegal investigations, especially by identifying aspects of the life history of unknown individuals and by reconstructing events that took place at crime scenes. Covers both the legal aspects of forensic practice and the underlying biological basis for evidence obtained from skeletal remains. Examines applications of forensic anthropology in mass disasters, human rights investigations, and the deciphering of historic cases. Lab activities designed to illustrate techniques and principles central to the discipline.

MCCCD Official Course Competencies
1. Define the process involved in a scientific investigation, and cite the steps of the scientific method. (I)
2. Describe data scales, summary measures, and the difference between accuracy and precision. (I, IV)
3. Collect data with scientific instruments used by forensic anthropologists. (I, IV)
4. Explain the role a forensic anthropologist plays in the medicolegal system. (I, VII, VIII)
5. Identify the stages of a forensic investigation. (III, IV, V, VII)
6. Demonstrate knowledge human osteology and its relevance to forensic anthropology. (II, III, IV, V, VI)
7. Demonstrate how skeletal analysis provides information leading to identification of unknown individuals, including insights into age and sex, stature estimation using regression equations, and other aspects of life history. (IV, V, VI)
8. Compare and contrast the biological and social concepts of race and explain the complexities of ancestry assessment in modern forensic anthropology. (I, II, IV)
9. Differentiate between the major types of trauma and how each may be recognized from skeletal remains. (V)
10. Evaluate how taphonomic processes can impact skeletal remains, and how recognition of their effects can aid in reconstructing crime scene events. (III, VI)
11. Describe how forensic data can be used in special cases, such as mass disasters, human rights investigations, recovery of war dead, and prehistoric/historic cases of interest. (VIII)
MCCCD Official Course Competencies must be coordinated with the content outline so that each major point in the outline serves one or more competencies. MCCCD faculty retains authority in determining the pedagogical approach, methodology, content sequencing, and assessment metrics for student work. Please see individual course syllabi for additional information, including specific course requirements.
MCCCD Official Course Outline
I. Forensic anthropology
    A. Anthropology and forensic sciences
    B. Definition
    C. History of its development in the United States
    D. Relationship to the medicolegal community
    E. Data gathering and analysis in the field

II. The human skeleton
    A. Important terms in osteology
    B. Important terms in odontology
    C. Relevant landmarks for further forensic analysis

III. Crime Scene Investigation
    A. Establishing forensic significance
        1. Bone versus non-bone
        2. Human versus non-human bone
        3. Contemporary versus non-contemporary remains
    B. Recovery methods
        1. Survey methods
        2. Excavation techniques
    C. Estimating postmortem interval
        1. Decomposition
        2. Forensic entomology
    D. Initial treatment and analyses

IV. Achieving a positive identification
    A. Ancestry
        1. Biological vs. social concepts of race
        2. Differentiating aspects of the skull
    B. Determining sex from skeleton
    C. Determining age at death from skeleton
    D. Estimating stature
    E. Antemortem skeletal conditions
        1. Clues to determining a positive identification
            a. Disease and/or pathology
            b. Handedness
            c. Occupational stress markers
        2. Medical and dental records
    F. Methods
        1. Facial reconstruction
        2. Photographic superimposition

V. Determining cause and manner of death
    A. Trauma to the skeleton
        1. Effects on bone biology
        2. Timing of bone trauma
    B. Types of trauma distinguishable in skeletal remains
        1. Projectile
        2. Blunt force
        3. Sharp force trauma
        4. Other

VI. Taphonomy and postmortem changes to bone
    A. Natural damage: animals, weathering, water transport
    B. Unnatural damage: dismemberment, burning

VII. Forensic anthropology in the courtroom
    A. Ethical responsibilities
    B. Role of an expert witness

VIII. Special cases in forensic anthropology
    A. Mass disasters
    B. Investigation of human rights abuses
    C. Identification of missing soldiers
    D. Cases of prehistoric and historic significance
MCCCD Governing Board Approval Date: December 13, 2016

All information published is subject to change without notice. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, but based on the dynamic nature of the curricular process, course and program information is subject to change in order to reflect the most current information available.