If you attended the AIC Member Business Meeting at last year’s 45th Annual Meeting in Chicago, you learned about some of the initiatives our colleagues have been involved in to increase diversity in the field. Last year, ECPN became directly involved with one of these initiatives, a collaboration with WUDPAC, Yale, and the Alliance of HBCU Museums and Galleries (HBCU = historically black colleges and universities).
Just to provide some quick background to ECPN’s involvement – in the winter of 2016, members of the HBCU Alliance of Museums & Galleries, AIC, ANAGPIC, the Smithsonian, WUDPAC and Yale University, met to propose ways of engaging underrepresented students in the field of cultural heritage. This meeting was initiated, organized, and led by Dr. Caryl McFarlane, an independent diversity consultant, and strongly supported by Dr. Jontyle Robinson, Curator of the Tuskegee Legacy Museum and CEO of the HBCU Alliance of Museums and Galleries.
One result of this meeting was the development of two programs which occurred back-to-back last summer (summer 2017): Yale University’s HBCU Students, Teachers and Mentors Program and the University of Delaware’s TIP-C or Two-week Introduction to Practical Conservation. For more information on these programs, make sure to follow the links included here.
Mentoring was identified as an important component for these initiatives, so the HBCU program leaders reached out to ECPN, and ECPN identified and solicited mentors for a pilot mentoring program. Based on recommendations from ECPN and a survey of the mentors, matches were made to pair the 11 TIP-C students with conservation professionals. ECPN also created resources for both the mentors and the 11 TIP-C students, which included useful links and resources and a suggested reading list. The mentoring period began at the end of last summer, and is wrapping up this spring.
ECPN is currently working with Dr. McFarlane, Yale, and WUDPAC to facilitate the TIP-C students’ attendance at the 2018 AIC annual meeting pre-session: “Whose Cultural Heritage? Whose Conservation Strategy?”. This pre-session, taking place on May 30th, is AIC’s first symposium on diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in cultural heritage preservation. Students will also be encouraged to attend the Untold Stories “Storytelling as Preservation” program, which immediately follows the pre-session.
Attending these programs at the AIC annual meeting this year will not only be an opportunity for the students to learn more about conservation and to experience attending a large professional meeting, but it will also allow some of the students to connect in-person with their mentors for the first time! It has been a privilege for me to be involved in this program, both in my role as a mentor as well as in my role as the AIC Board Director of Professional Education and the Board Liaison to ECPN.
We hope to feature at least one student from this program on the blog later this year, so stay tuned for more information.