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Course Description

Until the late 20th century museums and historical sites were seen as uncontroversial places preserving “culture” for the benefit of all. This six hour, low participant-to-instructor ratio, eCourse will illustrate how during the 21st century this cosy image has been increasingly challenged and then, in the summer of 2020, it came crashing down as the full force of the Black Lives Matter movement put heritage centre stage in what is often referred to as the “culture wars”.

 

During the course participants will:

➣ Examine the historical development of the western museum compared to contemporary expectations for museums.
➣ Discuss how far museums should/can engage in social justice.
➣ Deconstruct the meaning, process, and impact of ‘decolonisation’ on museums and heritage sites.

 

Course Instructor

Dr. Valerie Higgins is the Program Director for the MA in Cultural Heritage at the American University of Rome. She began her professional life as an archaeologist but has progressively focused on the heritage aspect. Her research has focused on promoting community heritage, researching the impact of looting and trafficking and developing sustainable heritage tourism.

 

What we will discuss

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How museums and heritage professionals should position themselves when faced with calls to respond to movements such Black Lives Matter or MeToo.

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Heritage professionals have a duty to protect monuments and heritage sites so how should they respond to calls to destroy statues?

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Should heritage organisations lead initiatives in reparative justice, or wait to follow behind established social trends?

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What happens when initiatives to be more inclusive suffer a backlash from the community that finances an institution such as is happening at the moment with the National Trust in Great Britain?

How People Are Reacting

I took this online course as an introduction to the topic when the COVID pandemic prevented me from attending ARCA’s PG Cert program in Italy. The course gave me an exciting baseline introduction and I look forward to taking their summer professional training program next year.

Sarah Scott

As a university student taking courses in organized crime and terrorism, I wanted to understand better how art intersects with these more well known types of criminal behaviors. Professor Tijhuis and Professor Albertson gave me an excellent overview and I look forward to seeing what other courses on the subject ARCA develops.

Luis Rodriguez