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Museum Studies Call to Action

November, 2018

Museum studies programs have been influential members of the museum community for decades. They play important roles in advancing meaningful roles for museums through their thoughtful critique of underlying principles, through their dedication to excellence in teaching and learning about established and emergent practices, and through the ways they advance knowledge through research. And at this time of increasing concern about the impacts of climate change, they are positioned to build the attitudes, knowledge, skills and partnerships needed to encourage climate action in museum contexts.

The CMCJ Museum Studies Call to Action brings together diverse programs from right across Canada. Over the next three weeks, the Coalition encourages them to share their experiences as they develop new climate action programming and to discuss the challenges that they encounter. And we hope that, by working together, participating programs strengthen their networks going forward.

Whether you are a program director, a faculty member, a student (past or present) or an interested member of the museum community, we welcome your participation in this discussion.

Some ways to engage over the next three weeks

  • Review the information below provided by Canada’s museum studies programs on current and intended climate action initiatives
  • Read our Blog post on the topic – 6 Considerations as Museum Studies Programs take Climate Action
  • Reflect on the many questions raised in the Blog and on the experiences colleagues share as part of an online conversation. We encourage you to use the comment space below the Blog to follow conversations and contribute your thoughts over the next three weeks
  • At the end of November, review the summary of discussions
  • And continue your work on climate action initiatives in museum studies – and museum — contexts.
Student in Library
Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Participants

The following museum studies programs, listed alphabetically by province, west to east, have stepped up to CMCJ’s Museum Studies Call to Action to date. There are more to come as the month goes by so keep checking back. (If your program would like to join in, just let us know! Contact us here. )

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia Museums Association, Events and Programs

Primary Contact: Erica Mattson, Executive Director

Contact Information: bcma@museumsassn.bc.ca; 250 356 5700

Program(s): BCMA’s education offerings include an annual conference, regional workshops, monthly webinars, a mentorship program and forums and resources on museum standards and best practices and the care and handling of collections.

Primary Audience: Individuals such as cultural workers, volunteers, trustees who work in, or otherwise support, B.C.’s cultural heritage sector

Current or Planned Initiatives:  BCMA is the professional association for the museum, gallery and cultural heritage sector. BCMA supports our members and general sector development through a variety of learning and development opportunities (including an annual conference, regional workshops, mentorship program, provincial forums, online training videos, webinars, podcasts, Toolbox resources for small museums, and a variety of additional “access anywhere” educational resources.


University of Victoria, Cultural Resource Management Program

Primary Contact: Tania Muir, Director, Cultural Management Programs

Contact Information: 250 721 8462; tmuir@uvic.ca

Program(s): The Cultural Resource Management Programs (CRMP) at the University of Victoria currently offer a Diploma in Cultural Resource Management, a Professional Specialization in Collections Management and a forthcoming Professional Specialization in Visitor and Community Engagement, launching Fall, 2019.  Online and face-to-face learning opportunities are also accessed on an individual basis for credit or non-credit basis for professional development.

Primary Audience(s): For over 30-years, CRMP has served emerging and mid-career professionals in the museum, heritage and cultural sector. Offering courses in an online or in a 6-day face-to-face immersive format, learners in the Cultural Resource Management Programs are geographically dispersed with local, national and international participation. CRMP also serves undergraduate and graduate learning in the field offering courses as part of the Minor in Museum Studies offered by the Department of Art History and Visual Studies and the Masters in Public History offered by the Department of History.

Current or Planned Climate Action Initiatives:  CRMP provides learning opportunities for emerging and mid-career professionals to develop the knowledge and skills required to lead change within their organization, their community, and beyond.  Through regular courses offerings such as Social Engagement, Building Community Relationships, Communicating Through Exhibitions, and Exhibition Planning and Design, learners are invited to explore the broad paradigm shifts shaping the values and practices in museums, develop tools for working collaboratively with diverse communities on complex issues, identify ways that museums can directly support social justice issues such as climate change, and learn effective approaches to exhibition planning and educational programming to engage audiences and effect change. Special topics courses such as Museums in a Troubled World instructed by Dr. Robert Janes, provide opportunities for learners to think critically about museums and environmental sustainability.

As part of an upcoming offering of Building Community Relationships, instructor Elizabeth Kidd has implemented a learning module focused on addressing the consequences of climate change at a community level. This includes an assignment looking at how to address community needs and impact organization change through new educational activities, policy development, collaboration with environmental organizations, and other initiatives.

UVic students working on site
CRMP University of Victoria students working on site with Parks Canada staff. Photo courtesy CRMP.

ALBERTA

Alberta Museums Association, Professional Development

Primary Contact: Ben Fast, Program Lead

Contact Information: learning@museums.ab.ca, 780 424 2626 x 225

Program(s): Certificate in Museum Studies, Conferencing, Workshops, Video series

Primary Audience: AMA members, Alberta museum sector professionals and volunteers, interested individuals from related sectors. The video series is available to members of the museum community and to the public in Canada and beyond.

Current or Planned Initiatives:  AMA offers three major initiatives that address climate action in museum contexts:

  • The Museums and Society course: This capstone course re-examines the fundamental purpose and role of museum in society with a focus on the big picture. How do museums go beyond doing everything right to doing the right thing? This course will tie together the content from the rest of the Program to explore the museum’s role in community engagement, social responsibility, sustainability, and museums as agents of social change.
  • Conference Sessions: The AMA’s 2018 Annual Conference explored the theme of Cultivating Connections: Museums and the Environment. Conference 2018 featured three days of learning, networking, and dialogue including a panel of four keynote presenters as part of the Opening and Closing Plenaries. This panel provided holistic perspectives about the latest in climate education and climate action as our sector faces widespread environment-based changes. Conference sessions also addressed climate change, climate action, and climate education within all aspects of museum operations. To complement the Conference theme, the AMA was proud to partner with Bullfrog Power to ensure all energy used during the event was from clean, renewable sources.
  • Video Series: Museums and the Climate Change/Taking Action on Climate Change. A freely accessible and downloadable video series, Taking Action on Climate Change was created by the Alberta Museums Association, the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice, and Shadow Light Productions. The videos address ways in which museum professionals and visitors can engage in climate change action. They have been designed to be integrated into museum exhibition spaces and online platforms as a free educational tool. These videos are also intended to mobilize the museum sector to think differently about their role in climate change awareness and community resiliency, and to take action. They contains practical examples of how individuals can take proactive action to address climate issues. These videos are hopeful and engaging, and demonstrate not only what museums are doing to mitigate their carbon footprints, but also how individuals and other institutions can, by making sustainable choices, affect real change to address this global problem. Download the videos from the AMA’s vimeo page.

Athabasca University, Heritage Resources Management Program

Primary Contact: Dr. Shabnam Inanloo Dailoo, Director/Associate Professor

Contact Information: 1-780-458-1105  or  1-855-337-8590; inanloo@athabascau.ca

Primary Audiences: A combination of undergraduate and graduate students, including emergent and established workers in the cultural heritage sector

Current or planned initiatives: The Heritage Resources Management Program has developed a new course, Heritage and Risk Management, and in this course, students learn about natural disasters, many of which are cause by climate change, as well as cultural, human-made disasters and their impact on cultural heritage places and collections. The program is considering starting broader conversations about environment and climate change and the possibility of integrating such discussions in graduate and undergraduate courses.

Partnerships: Program students work with Alberta museums and historic sites during their practicum course over a one-year period. This project-based course present a possibility to engage emerging professions in climate action.

The Practicum Course provides work experience linked to study. The graduate practicum course requires 400 hours (paid or volunteer) work and the undergraduate practicum course requires 240 hours (paid or volunteer) work.

Reflections: As Canada’s Open University, Athabasca University is a leader in online and distance education. The Heritage Resources Management has students all over Alberta and Canada; thus the program is well-situated to collaborate with museums of different size and in different locations from urban centres to rural areas.


 

Lecture
Antenna on Unsplash

ONTARIO

Centennial College, Museum and Cultural Management Program

Primary Contact: Dr. Phaedra Livingstone, Professor and Program Coordinator

Contact Information: : 905 517 8299; plivingstone@centennialcollege.ca

Program(s): Post Graduate Certificate in Museum and Cultural Management

Primary Audience(s): Graduate students, emergent professionals with prior postsecondary credential

Current or Planned Climate Action Initiatives: At this point, climate action is included in the curriculum as a topic within our introductory survey course. The resources published by the Coalition (e.g., videos) provide a lens for considering how museums and museum professionals can ethically respond to pressing sustainability concerns. With advanced planning, it could be possible to draw this lens into the framework for an applied project conducted by the entire student cohort. A hurdle to doing so is the administrative effort involved (e.g., postsecondary course preparation or redevelopment often goes unpaid), so a detailed curriculum/ training guide that could be adapted at the tertiary level might be another useful outcome of this Coalition.

Partnerships: We currently have partnerships with various regional organizations related to curriculum delivery and the professional advisory committee for the program.


Fleming College, Museum Management and Curatorship & Cultural Heritage and Management Programs

Primary Contact: Gayle McIntyre, Program Coordinator

Contact Information: 705 749 5530  ext 1368; gayle.mcintyre@flemingcollege.ca

Program(s): Graduate Certificates in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management and in Museum Management and Curatorship

Primary Audience(s): Combination of undergraduate and graduate students, emergent professionals and mid-career professionals

Current or Planned Climate Action Initiatives: Our programs are developing  and implementing strategies for students to become more aware of their consumption of materials during  the completion of applied projects.  We are developing protocols for “your placemat at the conservation bench”, including directions such as using just the amount of material that you need to complete a project.  In addition,  we are trying to come up with sustainable practices and materials for printing exhibit panels.  We do recycle and reuse materials as much as we can and we are investing in resources, equipment, and furnishings that can be used for multiple applications.  We are also looking into the Kimberly Clark, nitrile glove recycling program.  This is a huge initiative that we have proposed for the entire college to adopt.

Partnerships:  We have many learning partners and sites of learning for our applied projects.  Our primary learning partner is the Peterborough Museum & Archives

Reflections:  This is important work.  Students and faculty have been asking for and trying to initiate green practices and the use of “greener” materials in museum applications.  Sadly materials such as foam core and ethafoam are not easy to recycle.


Ontario Museums Association, Professional Development Program

Primary Contact: Mary Collier, Professional Development Program Manager

Contact Information: 416-348-8672; toll-free 1-866-662-8672; pd@museumsontario.ca

Program(s): Certificate in Museum Studies, along with workshops and conferencing

Primary Audience(s): Emerging to mid-career professionals and volunteers

Current or Planned Climate Action Initiatives: Addressing climate action in the CMS program is not something that we have begun to consider yet.

Partnerships:  The OMA has supported local CMCJ initiatives, like the POP UP session at the recent OMA Annual Conference. It would be helpful to develop partnerships with other organizations that have expertise in the area so that we can potentially access guest speakers or people to review curriculum. This would support our current Course Directors to incorporate climate action into course content.


University of Toronto, Master of Museum Studies Program

Primary Contact: Dr. Cara Krmpotich

Contact Information: cara.krmpotich@utoronto.ca

Partnerships: UT Museum Studies Program has supported local CMCJ initiatives like Putting Ideas to Work. Faculty and students have contributed posts to the CMCJ Blog, see Can Museum Interpretation Advocate for Environmental Justice? and Questioning the “We”: Interpretation and Narrative in Anthropocene

Coalition data insights 1


QUEBEC

Université du Québec à Montréal, Cycles supérieurs en muséologie

Primary Contact: Dr. Jennifer Carter, Directrice

Contact Information: Carter.jennifer@uqam.ca  museologie.etudes.superieures@uqam.ca  514.987.3000, poste 0885

Program(s): Professional Master’s degree; Doctorate, Muséologie, mediation, patrimoine


INTERNATIONAL

Commonwealth Association of Museums

Primary Contact: Catherine C. Cole, Secretary-General

Contact Information: CatherineC.Cole@telus.net; 1-780-424-2229

Programs: Regional Workshops, International Conferences, Distance Learning Program, Internship Program

Primary Audience(s): undergraduate/graduate students, emergent professionals, mid-career and senior professionals

Current or Planned Climate Action Initiatives: CAM organized a workshop in Fiji on Museum Education in the Pacific: Building Resilience and has placed a Canadian intern at the National Museum of Vanuatu from October 2018-March 2019; she will be following up on the workshop and developing an educational program; we’ve developed an exhibition concept for a travelling exhibition about the scientific and cultural aspects of fish and fishing in fishing dependent communities – looking at how traditional fishing practices have changed as a result, in part, of climate change.

Partnerships: CAM partners with museums, museums associations, ICOM and Commonwealth organizations

Reflections: Climate action is high on the list of topics being discussed at CAM, ICOM and Commonwealth meetings; although identified as one of the calls to action following the People’s Forum at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, UK in April 2018, there doesn’t appear to be any funding to address it. We’re also currently working with the University of the South Pacific and the University of the West Indies on the development of heritage training programs and can suggest that they address climate action.


 

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