Imagining New Careers in Public History

A working group

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

My Best Day at Work

I am hoping that my best day at work is yet to be. I am earning my graduate degree in public history in order to facilitate a mid-career change. While I’ve had fulfilling days in my current work and in previous years, I cannot easily recall a “best day,” which has been the catalyst to look in a new direction. The nearest best day that I can imagine that I’ve probably had would be one in which I’d made several links or had several “finds” while researching that would culminate in a beneficial outcome. Because of the way my workplaces have been set up, I don’t typically get to experience or “feel” that outcome, which may be part of the disconnect that’s brought me to this latest course of study in order to find more fulfillment. ~Angi


First question

Tell us about one of your best days at work.

[Please respond to this question in a “new post.”  Try to keep your responses brief (250-300 words max).  To make a post, go to the “Dashboard.”  Click on “Posts” and then “Add New.”  Please sign your post with “~Firstname” in the body text.  Click “Publish” and you’re done.  If possible, we’d love to have all of the responses by Monday, 2/6.]

Discussion guidelines

In facilitating dialogues in the past, we have found it useful to provide some guidelines for the group.  Here are the guidelines for our discussion—both here on the blog and in person at the meeting.

– Listen fully and respectfully to one another
– Be aware of the air—make spaces for all voices to be heard
– Maintain a spirit of inquiry and curiosity about the topic and one another
– Acknowledge differing life experiences based on social identity and social status
– Seek first to understand—ask questions to clarify, not to debate
– Remember that you are free to change your mind at any time

The purposes of our discussion

Seth and I are eager to get the ball rolling.  Before we do, however, we’d like to define the purposes of this discussion—both here on the blog and at the meeting.  They are threefold: 1) to introduce us to one another so we can better collaborate at the OAH/NCPH meeting and beyond, 2) to share our experiences and observations about public history careers, and 3) to come up with new career paths that public historians might pursue.  To structure our discussion, we will follow the model of dialogue pioneered by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.  It has three phases:

Phase 1: Share the diversity of our experiences

Phase 2: Explore perspectives beyond our own experience

Phase 3: Synthesize and brainstorm new ideas

Our main goal is to foster an environment where creativity and innovation can blossom and that means creating something slightly different than the typical conference “roundtable.”  We hope that structuring things in this way will allow ideas to develop organically (forgive the use of such an over-used word) through discussion.

Later today I’ll post some guidelines for our discussion, and then tomorrow, Seth and I will circulate a question (along with some guidelines for posting) that will get us started with Phase 1.


Getting the Conversation Started

This blog is a discussion space for participants in the working group “Imagining New Careers in Public History” at the 2012 National Council on Public History/Organization of American Historians joint meeting in Milwaukee.

Our purpose in assembling this group is to address a question that concerns the very core of our shared enterprise: how will public historians make a living in the years ahead? Conventional logic suggests that, while more and more public history programs churn out new job seekers, and as persistent global economic instability threatens employment everywhere, all of us face diminishing prospects. At least, that’s one way to look at it. We’d prefer to think of this potential crisis as an opportunity to imagine new vectors of practice for public historians.

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