Past Is Present Initiative


Contact Us

Michael Chiarappa

Research Professor, Chesapeake Regional Studies / Director, Cultural and Natural Resource Initiatives

Our natural world, the built environment, and human communities are inextricably intertwined, in complex and powerful ways. Both natural resources and cultural resources - whether forests, historic towns, endangered species, or archaeological sites - are fragile, yet critical elements of our common heritage, resources upon which we draw for survival, for knowledge, and for our shared future. The aim of the Past Is Present Initiative is to explore, understand, and protect these resources, with special attention to how they intersect and how our efforts at protection and management can be leveraged and made more powerful.

The Past Is Present Initiative taps into the remarkable assets of our region: the farms and forests, rivers and estuaries, historic towns, museums, archaeological sites, and people. It builds on the existing strengths of the Center for Environment & Society, including educational programming, environmental research and habitat restoration, advanced technologies, historical and archaeological expertise, and work in resource management.

In its initial stages, this initiative will work to strengthen regional linkages between practitioners and constituents of both natural and cultural resource management. In particular, the Past Is Present Initiative will work to grow regional initiatives in tourism, recognizing the economic power of ecotourism and heritage tourism. In addition, the initiative will continue the longstanding effort of the Center to explore our past through archaeology and history, while documenting and preserving our irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage.

If you'd like to know more about the Past is Present Initiative please contact Michael Chiarappa via email (mchiarappa2@washcoll.edu) or by phone: 410-810-5089.


What We Do! 

  • Natural and cultural resource management and policy
  • Ecotourism and heritage tourism
  • Archaeology 
  • Architecture
  • Historical research
  • Remote sensing
  • Landscape study - All of the above resources coalesce into landscapes, and resources must be managed at this larger scale



Past Is Present Archaeology Lab

ces_archaeology_studentsThe Past Is Present Archaeology Lab (formerly the Public Archaeology Lab) supports the students, staff, and faculty of Washington College, as well as members of the public who want to learn more about our past through archaeology. It is a home base for a variety of research projects, where we work to piece together the history of our region.

The fully equipped lab at 210 S. Cross Street in Chestertown includes exhibits, study collections of artifacts, a reference/research area, and artifact storage space. It gives students access to a collection of archaeological journals, reports, and an array of research texts and materials.

Whether processing artifacts recovered from one of our excavations, examining historic documents, or simply connecting with other students interested in field, there’s always something to dig into in the Past Is Present Archaeology Lab.

We have a number of paid internships that allow students to learn and gain experience, while building a resume that sets them apart from their peers. Work includes basic lab processing, original research, and fieldwork opportunities. There’s no substitute for gaining hands-on experience in a supportive and friendly setting, working one-on-one with experienced professional staff whose primary objective is your professional development.

Whatever your interests, contact Liz Seidel (eseidel2@washcoll.edu) or by phone (lab: 410-810-7164, cell: 410-708-6024) to learn how to get involved!