University of Massachusetts Amherst




About the picture

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm near Caribou, Maine, in 1940. Schools would close until the potatoes were harvested.



July 14 – August 17, 2010

Engaging Communities in Local Heritage Management

(Anth 597EC)

For advanced students in the social sciences, community leaders, non-profit organization staff members, and city administrators. This course will introduce participants to practical and tested frameworks for facilitating community consultation, recommended or required by many heritage development projects.

It will also stress local benefits for community-based activities, as a source of community rejuvenation, with practical skill sets for achieving local development.

This five-week course presents the experiences of US and international community heritage projects and the framework of international heritage charters and best-practice guidelines to help course participants learn to:

• Understand and acquire tools and know-how for "community-based heritage"
• Design community engagement programs to fit specific communities or projects
• Evaluate their effectiveness in improving the value and utility of current heritage management practices.

Course instructor is Professor Margaret Purser of Sonoma State University, who has undertaken projects in the American West, Guatemala, and Fiji, combining methodologies from archaeology, ethnography, vernacular architecture, cultural landscape approaches, and new information technologies. She will share community-based research, public outreach, and collaborative project models for partnering local community constituencies with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or regional educational institutions for the documentation, preservation, and interpretation of local heritage across a range of contexts.

Course Goals and Learning Objectives

Through readings and exercises, the course participants will be able to identify locally relevant strategies for improving community engagement; analyze the gaps and insufficiencies in local heritage awareness and inclusiveness; and meet local needs and interests within broader policy and legal frameworks.

This course is intended to provide support and guidelines for the development of local community engagement programs. It is based on the premise that such programs should be explicitly and consciously collaborative. It also provides a forum for participants to share interests and problem-solving strategies. Course pedagogy will actively model the collaborative strategies and methods discussed in the class interaction. There will be an option for a 'field' or 'applied' component, for individual students.

Week 1

Course Overview: Process, not Product:
• What counts as a "community"? What counts as "engagement"?
• "Memory community" concept: definitions, advantages, applications
• Understanding what connects people to place

Week 2

The role of community consultation in present heritage/CRM frameworks
• Benefits of community engagement
• Guidelines for enhancement of community engagement
• The design structure of a community survey

Week 3

Tools for Effective Community Engagement:
• Linking tangible and intangible resources:
• Potential audiences, and community goals
• Conducting survey: methods, questions, and data processing
• Moving from assessment to collaborative program design

Week 4

Troubleshooting and Problem-solving:
• (the role of the facilitator): "But we're really not from around here"
• (conflict of perspectives): Multiple communities and contested places
• (relationship with government): Contested policy and agency domains

Week 5

Assessing benefits, internally and externally
• Toward the Future: Ensuring the sustainability of community engagement
• Presentations and Communication: Publicizing the Results
• Community Feedback: Adjustment and development of long-term strategies

For information on fees and registration procedures, please click

Center for Heritage and Society, 215 Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003 phone: 413.545.2221  fax: 413.545.9494