KSU partners with Fernbank Museum of Natural History

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Dec. 7‚ 2006) — Georgia’s little−known Spanish colonial history will soon…

Georgia (Dec 7, 2006) — KSU partners with Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Christina Hogan


Contact: Frances Weyand‚ Director of University Relations‚ 770−423−6203 or fweyand@kennesaw.edu

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Dec. 7‚ 2006) — Georgia’s little−known Spanish colonial history will soon become more clear thanks to a grant from Spain’s Ministry of Education and Science. The grant will allow Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Kennesaw State University’s Center for Hispanic Studies to forge a partnership to explore this rich history.

This partnership will immediately impact Georgia schools by bringing together scholars to share their knowledge with PK−16 educators regarding opportunities for curricular development and integration. Other results of this partnership will include student exchanges‚ visiting researchers‚ access to archival documents and‚ ultimately‚ a sustained international‚ research−based collaboration.

“This grant will enable us to bring together researchers from Spain‚ Georgia‚ South Carolina‚ Florida and New York‚” said Robert DeVillar‚ director for Hispanic studies and professor in the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State. “We will be able to exchange critical information regarding the Spanish colonial presence in Georgia during the mission period‚ visit excavation sites‚ view and discuss the important artifacts of the period‚ and converse with elementary‚ secondary and postsecondary leaders regarding integration of this exciting knowledge into our Georgia curricula. We are all very excited about this grant.”

The educational program‚ actively supported by the Spanish government‚ will focus on Fernbank’s permanent collection of Spanish and Native American artifacts‚ including more than one million objects from St. Catherines Island‚ the first Spanish mission settlement in Georgia‚ and artifacts recovered by the museum’s project to locate mission Santa Isabel de Utinahica on the lower Ocmulgee River.

“Creation of this partnership is a logical and critical extension of Fernbank’s educational mission‚” Dennis Blanton‚ Fernbank’s curator of Native American archaeology‚ said. “The St. Catherines Island and Santa Isabel archaeological collections offer tangible evidence of the critical role Georgia played during a transformative period of world history.”

Together‚ the collections from these two archaeological projects will be used to examine life on Spanish mission settlements in Georgia and the relationships between Native Americans and Spanish missionaries‚ particularly their peaceful co−existence.

“Fernbank’s collections show how the Spanish friars used compromise to avoid conflict with the Native Americans‚ even though they lived outnumbered in their communities‚” Blanton said. “By understanding the policies adopted by the friars in their relations with Native Americans‚ modern society can learn from the successes and difficulties of peaceful interaction and negotiation.”

From researching the artifacts‚ scholars‚ educators and students involved in this partnership will ultimately offer recommendations for revised curriculum‚ particularly in relation to peace education‚ in Georgia schools.

The first step in this partnership will be a conference titled “Seminar on the Integration of Spanish Identity in Georgia: A Model for Peace Education‚” to be held Dec. 11−15 at Fernbank and KSU. Participants will also visit St. Catherines Island and the current archaeological excavations in Telfair County.

For more information‚ contact Brandi Berry‚ director of public relations at Fernbank Museum of Natural History‚ at 404−929−6339 or brandi.berry@fernbank.edu.


Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population approaching 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third−largest university out of 35 institutions in the University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including a new doctorate in education.


“Seminar on the Integration of Spanish Identity in Georgia:
A Model for Peace Education”
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How did Kennesaw State University‚ Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the Spanish government become involved?

A: The opportunity began in June 2006 when Spain’s Honorary Vice Consul‚ Ignacio Taboada‚ learned of Fernbank Museum’s new archaeological program in Telfair County. After discussions with Dennis Blanton‚ Fernbank’s curator of Native American archaeology‚ Taboada was fascinated by the potential for fleshing out Spanish American history through excavations of a possible mission site. Discussions snowballed as excitement spread for the potential of these findings‚ and soon Robert A. DeVillar‚ director for Hispanic Studies and professor in the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University‚ became involved. DeVillar and Blanton both realized the potential for an international collaboration and the opportunity to add more understanding of Spanish influence during the American colonial period.

Q: Who will participate in the conference Dec. 11−15?

A: A number of international dignitaries‚ educational leaders‚ archaeologists and scholars will take part in this conference.

Among the esteemed international colleagues to take part in the discussions is Isabel Simo Rodríguez‚ a paleographer and the director of the General Archives of the Indies‚ Seville‚ Spain. The archives is the single greatest and most important archival repository of the Spanish contact with the Americas (and Philippines)‚ covering the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th. The archives contain the letters of Christopher Columbus‚ priests‚ military officers‚ Popes and other figures. There are more than 80 million pages‚ extending a length of five miles.

Accompanying Simo Rodríguez will be two specialists from the University of Sevilla (Seville‚ Spain): Julian Ruiz Rivera‚ a specialist in American history‚ and Fernando de Amores Carredano‚ a specialist in pre−history.

Other attendees include directors from the Georgia Department of Education‚ the State Archaeologist‚ and other state organizations‚ as well as academic colleagues from South Carolina and Florida‚ and possibly the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

In addition‚ Linda Johnston‚ director of the Center for Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University‚ will direct a session examining how peace education and conflict resolution might play an integral role in assessing the archaeological findings.

Q: What will the “Seminar on the Integration of Spanish Identity in Georgia: A Model for Peace Education” entail?

A: The seminar Dec. 11−15 will include a week of specialized programming at Fernbank Museum and Kennesaw State University‚ including trips to St. Catherines Island in McIntosh County and the current archaeological excavations in Telfair County. Participants will get a closer look at Fernbank’s collections‚ as well as an introduction to KSU’s Hispanic studies department. The seminar will also provide a platform for discussion and implementation.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu