Cultural and Historic Preservation

The Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation Program prepares students for careers that explore and protect the places, objects and stories that create our history. As one of only nine undergraduate programs recognized by the National Council for Preservation Education, our curriculum provides a diverse foundation in the field’s major disciplines, including architectural history, archaeology, museum studies and urban planning.

Our Program

Our program emphasizes the cultural relationships between people, objects and buildings and teaches students to preserve the stories that give those material things meaning. Because we believe that experience is the best teacher, our students learn preservation by doing preservation, and we take full advantage of the world-class architecture and living laboratory that surrounds us. We employ the buildings and objects on our campus and in the city of Newport to help students develop valuable skill sets.

Through coursework and required internships, students photograph and create measured drawings of historic architecture, conduct archival research, participate in archaeological excavation and collaborate on the development of museum exhibits. We also train our students in cutting-edge preservation technology, including geographic information systems (GIS), photogrammetry, 3D digital modeling, aerial drone photography and archaeological geophysics (ground-penetrating radar, magnetic gradiometry and soil resistivity).

Program Spotlight: Hands-On Learning

 We focus heavily on the experiential aspect of learning – learning by doing. The theory and history are essential, but the hands-on stuff is as well. Our plan is to get the kids’ hands dirty – literally – doing preservation. We want to turn out students who have a firm and well-rounded foundation in many different aspects of historic preservation. 

Dr. Jon Marcoux, assistant professor

Our Faculty

Our faculty have extensive experience both teaching at the university level and working as preservation professionals, and they draw upon this knowledge to show students how their coursework translates to the real world of preservation. Small class sizes allow for individual attention and mentoring, and students are included in ongoing research projects. Using this experiential approach, our faculty provide students with valuable experience in the preservation field.


Meet Our Faculty

Life After Salve

Our students are uniquely positioned with the knowledge and experience they need for successful careers. As a result, we have an established record of placing our graduates in the nation’s leading preservation agencies, firms and organizations.

  • Local and state government: An ever-increasing number of municipalities employ preservation planners, and every state has a historic preservation office. 
  • Federal government: A broad range of preservation work is available through the National Park Service.
  • Private cultural resource management firms: These firms do contract work for clients ranging from private landowners to state governments, and also perform architecture documentation and evaluation. 
  • Private preservation organizations that maintain historic sites: There are hundreds - if not thousands - of local preservation organizations scattered across the country.
  • Preservation contracting firms: Hands-on preservation work is a well-defined niche in the building industry, and there is a critical shortage of trained and skilled artisans in the historic building trades. 

 I am grateful to the cultural and historic preservation program for turning my fledgling interest in history into a career in historic preservation. The program surrounded me with people, places and experiences that fostered a passion for the field as well as a sense of academic rigor and community engagement that I apply every day on the job. 

Alyssa Lozupone ’11, architectural preservationist, Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office

Summer Archaeological Field School

Our summer field school provides training in archaeological excavation techniques through the exploration of unique historical and cultural landscapes in Rhode Island and South Carolina. Previous sites have included St. Giles Kussoe, the New World plantation established by English lord Anthony Ashley Cooper in 1674, and an 18th century plantation owned by British merchant George Rome.

 My goal is for students to see how archaeology can help us to appreciate the complexity of our history. I want them to see that many parts of the colonial landscape survive to this day, and that we need to preserve and explore these remnants to tell the full story of our shared past. 

Dr. Jon Marcoux, assistant professor

Major in Cultural and Historic Preservation (B.A.)

13 courses | 39 credits

Required courses:

  • CHP170: Introduction to Historic Preservation
  • CHP180: Preservation Planning Studio
  • CHP190: Introduction to Archaeology
  • CHP250: Internship
  • CHP262: Historic Site Management
  • CHP301: American Architecture Survey
  • CHP395: Senior Seminar
  • CHP490: Senior Thesis
  • SOA130: Anthropology: Interpreting Cultural Differences

Students choose two additional electives in cultural and historic preservation, along with two of the following history courses:

  • HIS113: History of the United States to 1877
  • HIS114: History of the United States Since 1877
  • HIS313: American Immigrant Experience
  • HIS316: American Economic History
  • HIS322: Urban America

Minor in Cultural and Historic Preservation

Because of the linkages between historic preservation and so many other fields of study, our minor allows students focusing in disparate areas of study to enrich their major.

6 courses | 18 credits

Required courses:

  • CHP170: Principles of Historic Preservation
  • CHP180: Preservation Planning Studio
  • CHP190: Introduction to Archaeology
  • CHP301: American Architecture Survey

Students choose two additional electives in cultural and historic preservation.