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RPA President Elect Candidate

Kenneth Aitchison is standing as a candidate for the Register of Professional Archaeologists' President Elect.

Kenneth Aitchison

Registered Professional Archaeologist 28575573

Biographical Statement:

I have been a Registered Professional Archaeologist since 2013. I am currently Chair of the RPA Ethics Committee and have served on that Committee since 2019.

My career in professional archaeology and cultural resource management began in 1992, and I am now the Founder and CEO of Landward Research, a group of companies established in New Mexico, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and through this I work internationally, with a focus on measuring and managing the cultural heritage workplace and in the management of archaeological membership organizations.

After receiving my M.A. (hons) in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in 1992, I then worked in the field for five years, in Scotland each winter and in Cyprus, Syria, Israel and Lebanon during the summers (the wrong way round for the weather!). In 1998, I was awarded a post-graduate M.A. in Landscape Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, and while I was studying there I set up my own company to deliver archaeological field work and cultural heritage labor market intelligence. In 2011, I was awarded my PhD by the University of Edinburgh – my thesis was on “Professional Archaeology in the United Kingdom from 1990-2010”.

From 2001 to 2010 I worked for the Institute of Field Archaeologists (now the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists [CIfA]) as Head of Projects and Professional Development. Working for CIfA gave me a great deal of insight into how an organization that is simultaneously a registration and certification body for archaeologists (like RPA) and a membership society (like RPA’s four sponsoring organizations) can succeed.

In 2010, I left CIfA and returned to running my own company, Landward Research, which has successfully traded as a consultancy since then, and grown over the years. My work includes looking in detail at the nature of cultural resource management as an industry in the United States and around the world.

My most significant current client is FAME, the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, which is the trade association for commercial archaeology (CRM) firms in the UK and Ireland, and where I am the CEO. FAME is effectively a sister body for ACRA, the American Cultural Resources Association, and I have worked to build up a collaborative and cooperative transatlantic relationship between the organizations and between commercial firms in our sector.

I am Treasurer of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and I also serve on the Society for American Archaeology’s Ethics Committee and their International Government Affairs Committee, which is particularly relevant to some of my work outside the US, as I am active in European and African cultural resource management (with recent projects in The Gambia, Kenya, and Tanzania).

Position Statement:

Through my work and committee service, I have developed a profound understanding of professional standards in archaeology, and the processes of their development, application, and enforcement, together with the issues of governance and delivery that face membership and registration organizations in archaeology.

If elected Incoming President, I will work with the Board of Directors, President, Chief Executive, Committees and Registrants to deliver a shared vision of a strong, resilient, and influential RPA for years to come.

I will ensure RPA continues to be is a solid, lean organization that recognizes professional archaeologists, and that ensures that Registration means something by protecting the ‘brand’ through the grievance process.

And that means I will be committed to keeping RPA focused on doing what RPA is good at, and on providing the services that members and stakeholders want and need. I have first-hand experience of seeing mission-creep lead to organizations losing focus and become flabby, trying to provide far too many trivial services that their members and stakeholders don’t actually want or need. I will ensure RPA avoids that mission-creep and maintains focus.

I believe one area that would benefit from additional attention is the active promotion of the value of Registration. Particularly to the client-side – encouraging firms to prioritize hiring RPAs – and to regulators – making sure that more and more entities require RPA status as a condition for granting Permits. If Clients and Regulators need RPAs to do the work, then demand will lead to growth for the Register, with a wider, stronger, and deeper acceptance of universal ethical and professional standards in archaeology.

The Register of Professional Archaeologists is a community of professional archaeologists. Our mission is to establish and adhere to standards and ethics that represent and adapt to the dynamic field of archaeology and to provide a resource for entities who rely on professional archaeology services.

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