Last year, I asked students in my Introduction to Public Humanities course to write the syllabus. I wrote about this here: you won’t believe what happened next!
I didn’t repeat that project this year. In part, that’s because of different circumstances: teaching the fall, not the spring, means that students are new to the program, and the field. It doesn’t seem fair to ask them to design the whole course.
And while the end result last year was fine, a number of the students were uncomfortable with the process. One student wrote, in evaluation,
- Build a broad and rigorous framework for conceptualizing and evaluating work in the public humanities including an understanding of conversations and difficulties of the field in its present incarnation.
- How can I fit my community and other underrepresented communities into the work of public humanities beyond museums.
- How to engage with the community as professionals; when to take the lead, when to follow their lead; how to serve communities responsibly and effectively.
- Understand the historiography of public humanities; where it grew from, where it is now, and where it can go; and at each stage, reflect on what we mean when we analyze accessibility, the public and expertise.
- How to get our work beyond ourselves, our institutions, the academy; understanding the idea of the public or publics and how it’s changed over time; what does this mean for practice.