Digital Formats for Teaching Cultural Heritage Preservation
As the second half of the academic year is well underway, I am mired in digital platforms, establishing my project. It always helps me, when I get stuck on something and find it overwhelming, to go back and read what I proposed to do. This is where I am starting today. The rest of this post lays out what I am attempting to do, for the first time, for my CHI project. Having previously designed and taught my own course at another Big Ten institution, I find it fundamentally easier to create a typical, lecture style, college course centered around these same materials. I wanted to do something new and challenging with this CHI fellowship, as well as something that could reach a broader audience than a class of fifty college age students. Having several certifications in policy and law compliance, I noticed that the majority of people at these certification workshops are working professionals. People in this arena would likely never take a traditional college course yet needed this information immediately when it came across their desk at work. For the majority of people, it never crosses their mind that when running a water line or erecting a lamp-post or building a house in an old neighborhood, they might run across a burial ground or something else of historic significance. I hope that the online project I develop will aid these endeavors.
Issues such as the return of items of cultural patrimony, the looting and annihilation of irreplaceable cultural heritage monuments, traditional cultural properties and the desecration of national heritage sites worldwide plague our world daily. Because of these issues, my project for CHI is to create an online course specializing in cultural heritage management policy and law both nationally and internationally (UNESCO). This course will highlight some of the more notorious cases, how they were dealt with and the applicable laws used in their mitigation. I hope this course will enhance curriculums in cultural heritage management as well as deliver needed policy training for people outside academia in institutions such as public or tribal museums, and government offices. An online format for this course works well for this topic as the laws dealt with are tedious in a standard lecture format. This format allows for the topics to be broken down into a series of public lectures or informational online sessions that appeal to a wide range of disciplines and audiences.
Designing a course such as this integrate me further into the realm of cultural heritage management by allowing me the expertise required to assist local communities with the preservation and dissemination of their own cultural heritage agendas to a wider range of recipients. Developing this course will allow me to engage with pedagogical approaches for digital course design and digital scholarship while allowing me to deliver a much-needed source of information the communities I work with. As digital outlets become the most common way to reach the widest audience, it is crucial that we as cultural managers take advantage of this trend. In an era where funding quickly disappears without an apparent real-world application, it is crucial we reach a wide audience and make our classes relevant to a broader market.
This will be a mixed methods course, involving short, twenty minutes or less, lectures on each policy, when it applies and the steps to work through it. After each lecture, hands on activities involving actual cases from around the world will be used to allow the participants to work through the mitigation of each law. Then, another short lecture will be given, discussing how each case was mitigated and the results of each mitigation. Discussion boards/online forums will be used to stimulate interactive discussion about what things went both right and wrong in these mitigations. Further lectures will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of these policies.
My intended audiences are Anthropology, History, Museum Studies, and other disciplines utilizing museum collections and working with issues involving cultural heritage management more broadly. Tribal historic preservation offices, city, county and state governments agencies that deal with these policies can use the modules as training aids for their staff. In many communities, it is an inadvertent discovery or a NAGPRA issue that sparks the formation of a cultural center or society or a board to address issues revolving around section 106. An introductory timeline of the history of these laws followed by a comment section will open the course where participants will offer their experience/involvement with these laws and their background. This is intended to lead to an understanding that almost everyone involved has had little to no training in this and all want to learn more about to protect the past. This creates a sense of community and shared goals through preservation.