Participation and Public Engagement in Cultural Heritage Governance

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Remote students
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Course Description: 

The course offers an introduction into the use of crowdsourcing and social media when implementing cultural heritage projects, with a special focus on engaging the public in the design, conduct, and dissemination of research.

Crowdsourcing – also known as citizen science – is becoming more and more common in the humanities and heritage domain as a tool for processing vast amounts of data. Members of the broader public have been involved into the collection, digitization, transcription, and description of heritage within crowdsourcing projects run by various cultural heritage organizations – galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. However, it is more than just a framework for generating content. It is a powerful tool for creating a community of interested individuals who are ready to work towards a specific shared goal.

Across industries, including the fields related to cultural heritage, social media is turning from a “nice to have” to a significant component of business strategy. Cultural heritage organizations increasingly recognize the power of social media in reaching and broadening their audience. Engaging the public with the help of these tools benefits both the audience and the organizations. The audience has easy access to the collections and knowledge, and they can learn through direct engagement with the help of interactive, collaborative digital tools. For cultural organizations, social media is an efficient way to present their work and exhibits and to involve the audience into the formation and curation of the collections.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students completing this course will:

  • understand the concept of participatory heritage and advantages of community engagement in heritage-related projects
  • learn the basics of what efficient crowdsourcing and social media are and how they can be used in the fields of cultural heritage studies, humanities, and social sciences;
  • learn how to formulate the idea of a crowdsourcing project, how to identify micro-tasks for the crowd, how to define clear and convincing aim and tasks of the project;
  • gain hands-on experience with digital tools and techniques used by scholars in the field of humanities and social sciences such as Zooniverse and Omeka;
  • learn how to apply social media for public engagement;
  • learn to create an effective online public engagement strategy for a heritage-related project.

Each class will include a discussion and analysis of cases. Students will reflect on the case and present their own projects. Students may be asked to work in small groups and to report on the results of small-group discussions. Students are encouraged to participate actively in all  discussions since 60 percent of a student’s grade are based on the quality of class participation. There will be a few compulsory readings and some practical assignments after the classes every day. Students are advised to check the home tasks and plan them in advance.

Tasks and evaluation:

  • Class participation (answering questions, preparing presentations or case studies: 60% 
  • Creating a crowdsourcing project: 20%
  • Paper on the digital strategy of a selected cultural heritage institution: 20%

Grades are calculated as presented in the Student Records Manual (100% equals 4 points).

Students are welcome to submit the modified project documentation and the final paper after the instructor’s revision before the due date. Late work is eligible for 70% of the original points.