Cultural Resource Management Courses

Courses open for registration

Core Courses

Heritage Resource Management

This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices of heritage conservation. The concept of heritage has expanded to encompass historic districts, cultural landscapes and living heritage as well as buildings, structures and gardens. This expansion of the concept of heritage has had a profound impact on the principles that guide conservation actions, the types of strategies employed to safeguard historic places and the role of heritage practitioners.

This course introduces values-based conservation and the practices that flow from it. A broad range of case studies is used to illustrate key concepts, and the assignments provide the opportunity to apply ideas and concepts to real situations. Topics include:

  • definitions of historic place
  • authenticity and conservation
  • links between heritage conservation and broader societal goals, such as sustainability

The course explores approaches to heritage evaluation, planning, interventions, interpretation and urban revitalization, and introduces the roles of governments, organizations and citizens.

Course Code: AHVS 487A

Museum Principles and Practices I

This course covers the foundations of museum practice and goes on to explore the various ways in which museums create and preserve knowledge through their curatorial and collections management functions.

This course addresses a range of functional tasks encountered in museums, with emphasis on a number of important themes in museology. As you work through these materials, you will note the recurrent attention to the following:

  • the need to respect diverse cultural values and perspectives
  • the need to involve the communities in shaping museum collections, programming and operations
  • the impact of information technologies on the work of the museum
  • the impact of increased demands for accountability from a range of stakeholders on all aspects of museum work

These themes run throughout both courses and provide a frame of reference for both your studies and your work as you translate theory into practice.

Course Code: AHVS 486A

Museum Principles and Practices II

By balancing theory and practice, this course provides a foundation for your work in museums and challenges you to develop your professional philosophy, to think critically, and to recognize both the constant and the changing factors that shape museum work.

Museum Principles and Practices I: Communities, Curatorship, and Collections covered the foundations of museum practice and explored the various ways in which museums create and preserve knowledge through their curatorial and collections management functions. This offering, AHVS 486B Museum Principles and Practices II: Programming, Exhibitions, and Management, covers public programming and exhibitions and goes on to consider core management strategies and issues.

Both courses address a range of functional tasks encountered in museums, and also emphasize a number of important themes in museum studies. As you work through these materials, you will note recurrent attention to the following:

  • the need to respect diverse cultural values and perspectives
  • the need to involve the communities in shaping museum collections, programming, and operations
  • the impact of information technologies on the work of the museum
  • the impact of increased demands for accountability from a range of stakeholders on all aspects of museum work

These themes are woven throughout both courses and provide a frame of reference for both your studies and your work as you translate theory into practice.

Course Code: AHVS 486A

Elective Courses

Building Community Relationships

This course provides a safe place to undertake conversations, create new knowledge and develop workable strategies to contribute to that good society. The course is designed to provide you with new tools and perspectives for inquiry, and practical understanding so that you can work effectively within a rapidly changing world. It also gives you the opportunity to:

  • share your insights with fellow learners
  • build upon your own experience, skills and knowledge
  • critically and creatively meet the challenges facing your organization and profession

Strong, sustained and mutually beneficial relationships with communities are critical to cultural and heritage organizations that seek relevant, positive and socially responsible roles in society. However, while the benefits of meaningful community partnerships are generally recognized across the cultural heritage sector, the knowledge and skills associated with effective community cultural and social development activities are not widely understood or applied.

Course Code: AHVS 488S

Caring for Museum Collections

This course provides an introduction to preventive conservation. During the 14 weeks of this course, we focus on identifying and quantifying the environmental factors or agents of deterioration that affect collections, and on developing strategies that mitigate those factors. We build our understanding of the materials that make up a museum collection, both in how they degrade and in how they react to their environment and the objects around them. As well, we explore strategies for evaluating conservation requirements for the safe exhibition and storage of museum collections. Finally, we explore the role of an integrated planning and a risk management approach to collections care.

Course Code: AHVS 488D

Collections Management

Central to the museum’s existence—from nature preserve to anthropology museum, contemporary art gallery to historical site—is the collection and use of objects and specimens: the material evidence of humans and their environment. This course addresses the roles of those collections within the framework of institutional mission and community objectives, and goes on to explore a range of management topics including:

  • ethics
  • policy
  • technology
  • accessioning
  • cataloguing
  • registration
  • documentation

…along with factors influencing collection development and management.

This course is intended to provide you with a thoughtful and balanced understanding of principles and practices that strengthen your ability to engage and lead the processes of collections development, registration, documentation, access, care, use, and planning. Together we will focus on the roles of collections within the institution and the community and the impact that our changing society and profession is having on managing collections for the future.

Course Code: AHVS 488B

Communicating Through Exhibitions

The course is all about developing our practice in creating exhibitions that connect and communicate to their audiences effectively. As a foundation, we will analyze what makes certain exhibitions successful and how to look at exhibitions with a critical eye.

While we will explore the entire planning process—from concept to fully realized design—the main focus of the course will be on the story. Mastering the art of interpretive planning is vital to the creation of exhibitions that work. We will look at the principles of powerful interpretation, the construction of a story and the ways in which content is written to best effect.

The course relies heavily on real life examples and practical exercises. You will also gain experience in planning an exhibition through collaboration as a member of a team.

Course Code: AHVS 488C

Conserving Historic Structures

The conservation of historic places is governed by well-established principles and standards. This intensive course will enhance your understanding of the practice of heritage conservation. It addresses the central topics of the discipline, focusing on the preparation of a historic structure report.

Course Code: AHVS 489J

Cultural Landscapes

From the landscapes associated with historic buildings, industries and rural communities, to traditional use sites of First Nations peoples, cultural landscapes are tremendously diverse resources that present special conservation and management challenges. This course focuses on the complex nature of cultural landscapes and develops your ability to identify, evaluate and develop conservation strategies for landscape resources that are integral to your community.

This course is designed to meet the needs of professionals from a wide range of fields that come together in the management of cultural landscapes.

Topics include:

  • defining cultural landscape types and their boundaries
  • applying current best practices in heritage conservation
  • recognizing evolving interactions between natural systems and human interventions
  • evaluating heritage values, significance and integrity
  • consulting effectively with stakeholders and the community
  • planning sustainable management strategies
  • balancing conflicting resources and uses

Note: as this course requires participation in written submissions, oral presentations and group collaboration, it is required that you have English language fluency.

Course Code: AHVS 489G

For information on accommodations in Victoria click here.

Cultural Tourism: a Place-based Approach

How your community can capitalize on its arts, heritage, culinary and natural history attractions

For the past decade, the growth of cultural tourism has challenged cities and regions to capitalize on their cultural and heritage assets. Once regarded as a niche market, cultural tourism has emerged as a major market segment and a significant motivator for travel.

This course explores how to make the most of the fast-growing and lucrative market for cultural tourism. Whether you work for a destination marketing organization or economic development agency—or manage or market a museum, gallery, festival, heritage site or other cultural experience—this course offers development strategies and marketing tools that will help you to succeed. Special emphasis is placed on the theory and practice of place-based cultural tourism in the context of destination planning. Download the course outline here.

Course Code: AHVS 489H

For information on accommodations in Victoria click here.

Curatorial Planning and Practice

In early 19th-century English museums, a curator was the person charged with “keeping” a collection: that is, cataloging, organizing, caring for and displaying the myriad and oft-times chaotic array of objects. In the 20th century, as museums evolved from dusty buildings with monotonous displays into dynamic community- and market-oriented institutions, the curator’s role changed dramatically. Curators were typically scholars responsible for researching and acquiring objects and then working with a designer to develop scholarly and educational displays. Today, in the 21st century, the roles and responsibilities of curators far exceed the traditional “keeper” and “scholar” roles. Whether employed by an organization or working independently, today’s curators act as “cultural producers:” curators research, acquire, and care for both tangible and intangible objects and also work with diverse communities to create meaningful exhibitions and interpret meaning to the public.

This course is designed to familiarize students with both the theory and practice of curating in art, history, anthropology, science and interdisciplinary museums. The first five weeks will focus on theory, history and ethics. Through reading, analysis and online discussion, students will explore and debate the evolving definitions of what is involved in curating. The remainder of the course will focus on practice. In addition to continued reading and online discussion, students will select one public site in their community and engage in a series of exercises that encourage them to explore best practices in curating. Each student will critique two exhibitions at their case study site, propose the accessioning of an object into that site’s permanent collection, communicate intellectual content for that object public through a blog post or tweet, and create a concept and plan for a new exhibition that incorporates that objects for their chosen case study site.

Course Code: AHVS 488X

Curatorship: Contemporary Perspectives

Curatorship: Contemporary Perspectives reflects our growing understanding of the important relationships that exist between museums and their constituents. Museums and other public exhibition sites of all disciplines, sizes and settings are not only mirrors of society but also play influential roles. As societies change, these sites become zones of contestation in which notions of popular and high culture, old and new technologies, science and art, race and gender, individuals and communities interact. They can develop into arenas for important public debates about the definition and creation of a good society.

Museums are no longer expected simply to be civilizing sites of knowledge where the information flows in one direction; they are now places of dialogue where the visiting public and community partners are invited to bring their own perspectives and expertise into the learning and sharing process. Within the museum arena, these perspectives, beliefs and ways of doing things can either collide or fracture apart or they can become new hybrids: fresh sources of greater understanding and collaborative ventures.

Course Code: AHVS 488J

Determining Significance of Heritage Resources

Determining Significance of Heritage Resources

This course guides you through the process of determining significance of heritage resources, mainly historic places. It guides you through methods to identify values that are associated with historic places and synthesize them into an argument of significance in other words the reason to preserve them.

Historic places are understood as “A structure, building, group of buildings, district, landscape, archaeological site or other place in Canada that has been formally recognized for its heritage value” (Glossary, Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada). It begins by exploring the context of heritage to focus on those influences that frame the exercise of determining significance. You are then guided to apply methods to determine the significance of heritage resources.

Heritage is a cultural construct that emerged from a variety of collective interests and needs. Science, politics, social and economic concerns have all influenced the definition and conservation of heritage resources at various degrees. The legacy of these influences is a rich ‘collection’ of places administered by government authorities and private owners.

Determining the significance of heritage resources is also a means to articulate the importance of a place in the landscape and for the people associated with it. While Western views of heritage have dominated the field until later in the 20th century, various professional principles, charters, and guidelines have provided the means to respect the diversity of cultural interpretations of what constitutes heritage.

In order to determine the significance of heritage resources, it is essential to recognize and work with the biases that influenced past designations (i.e. places officially recognized by an authority as having significance) as well as integrate the multiple perspectives that come into play in current definitions of heritage.

Course Code: AHVS 489C

Exhibition Planning and Design

Since exhibitions are the public face of your museum, they should inspire powerful visitor experiences that convey your institution's mission and philosophy. This intensive course examines the entire exhibition planning sequence: creating interpretive exhibitions that encourage museum visitors’ understanding, participation and emotional engagement. It will address the following topics:

  • the foundation of planning
  • the planning process
  • design
  • fabrication
  • installation

Fieldwork, team development and presentation of an exhibition design proposal provide you with opportunities to build exhibition planning and design skills. 

Course Code: AHVS 488K

For information on accommodations in Victoria click here.

Financial Management in Cultural Organizations

Gain financial management skills specific to the cultural sector that will contribute to the success of your organization.

While museums and other heritage and arts organizations exist to contribute to the cultural, artistic and creative quality of community life, they rely on thoughtful business planning and effective financial management to achieve their goals. This course is suitable for anyone involved in planning and management within a cultural organization. Through this course, participants will build their understanding of the complex economic and legal contexts in which organizations operate. They’ll also strengthen their knowledge, skills, and confidence in business and financial planning, management and performance assessment. Participants are encouraged to consider their own organizations (or ones that they are familiar with) as a case study to explore:

  • the nature and values of not-for-profit cultural organizations
  • business planning as a framework for setting goals, priorities, and strategies
  • financial management cycles, budgeting, and resource allocation - forecasting revenues and expenditures
  • internal controls, evaluation, and audit legal and ethical issues
  • using financial information for effective grant writing

The course is designed to provide you with a set of planning and analysis documents that you will be able to integrate into your organization. We will address the challenges faced in developing mission-led, financially sustainable cultural organizations and explore the opportunities for advancing new business practices and funding sources.

Course Code: AHVS 488Q

For information on accommodations in Victoria click here.

Heritage Conservation in Context

This course introduces students to the fundamental and interrelated dynamics of place, ritual, memory and history as these apply to heritage conservation.

The course units chart a path from the philosophical and historical roots of conservation to the contemporary issues and challenges facing professional practitioners. Along the way the legal, regulatory and policy frameworks through which heritage conservation operates in Canada are explored.

The philosophical underpinnings of conservation are revealed, compared and challenged. Finally, emerging issues in the conservation sector an affecting the conservation sector are presented, and discussed through case studies and assignments.

Course Code: AHVS 489K

Heritage Conservation Planning

This course provides an overview of heritage planning, the field within heritage conservation that addresses interventions to historic places in the context of urban (and rural) planning and development. The objective of heritage planning is to manage change wisely. The course will use a pragmatic approach to consider individual and collective historic places (e.g., buildings, historic districts, cultural landscapes, archaeological sites) in a wide variety of geographical and physical contexts. Heritage planning will be addressed within the larger framework of sustainability.

Course Code: AHVS 489L

Human Resource Management in Cultural Organizations

This course will increase your capacity to interact with, lead and develop museum, heritage and other cultural workers. It will also allow you to strengthen your relationship with Boards and other governance institutions.

During the 14 weeks of this course, you will undertake an intensive examination of the ways in which staff and volunteers are managed in cultural organizations, with particular emphasis on museum and heritage institutions.

The material in the course is anchored in the conviction that strategic human resource management is vital in the creation of positive and supportive working environments in which the dedicated, creative professionals who animate the cultural sector can thrive. Throughout the course, you are encouraged to use resources and issues in your workplace as the context for reviewing the application of the literature and as the basis for activities and assignments.

Course Code: AHVS 488P

Industrial Heritage: Medalta Potteries Field School

Industrial plants can bring with them a whole series of challenges both from a technical and philosophical perspective. This course will examine the nature of industrial sites and review the various approaches to their conservation. It develops a technique for analyzing and understanding the processes and products of an industrial plant to allow the establishment of their appropriate values and significance; the underpinning of preparing a conservation program. The course will examine the issues surrounding industrial sites through the use of case studies and field trips to provide first hand experience.

Course Code: AHVS 489A

For information on accommodations in Victoria click here.

Interpreting the Past

Whether in museums, at historic sites, within dense urban areas or at remote rural locations, interpreting the past is a two-way public communication process or dialogue about raising awareness and understanding of historical events, stories and memories from a variety of points of view to multiple different audiences. 

This course will explore such concepts as the social construction of history and collective memory, from whose points of view such narratives are remembered and expressed, the notion of positivistic versus constructivist forms of interpretation, what is more appropriate at places of memorialization versus educational institutions, including museums, and how to manage a range of contested discourses from “hot” to “cool”.  Particularly problematic is the concept of dark heritage – remembering and interpreting events and sites of injustice, shame, conflict, death and atrocity – which is threaded throughout the course.

A wide variety of interpretive techniques are explored from letting an event or place speak for itself (genus loci), to signage and displays, to print, verbal, audio and visual communications, to interpretive centres, and to restorations, reconstructions and recreations of the past. A number of case studies will be presented and discussed. The course will be delivered through lectures, discussions, working in small groups and participant presentations.

Course Code: AHVS 488H


Managing Archival Collections

Many museums hold archival materials—including documents, maps, photographs and other documentary evidence—that require specialized care and management. This course focuses on archives as an important component of museum collections and develops your understanding of ways in which archival materials should be organized, managed, preserved and shared.

This course strengthens your understanding of:

  • the nature of archival materials
  • theories, principles, and practices governing archival management
  • legal, administrative, and professional frameworks
  • appraisal, acquisition, and accessioning of archives
  • archival arrangement and description, including the application of archival descriptive standards
  • physical processing and storage
  • the importance of preventive conservation
  • reference services and access issues
  • using archives to enhance exhibits, educational offerings, and outreach initiatives
  • the impact of digital technologies on the management of records and archives
  • the role of archives in culture, heritage and society

While there is common ground between the management of artifacts and the management of archives, recognizing the distinctions is important to caring effectively for documentary materials and increasing their role in the museum environment.

Course Code: AHVS 488U

Managing Cultural Organizations

This course provides participants with an opportunity for intensive study of the application of management theory and practice in cultural organizations, with particular emphasis on: characteristics of non-profit cultural organizations; governance and leadership; establishing mission goals and objectives; roles of executive and artistic directors; policy development and implementation; personnel management and team building; financial management; strategic and operational planning; information management; public relations; marketing; volunteer development; and ethical and legal issues.

The course will explore of the role of cultural organizations in society and the complex legal, ethical, and social values that shape our organizations and the people that lead them. Various issues, including leaders and leadership, social relevance and impact, and management systems and tools will also be examined. You will be challenged to critically analyze the trends and tools at your disposal and the role of your management style and values in guiding planning, goal setting, decision-making and evaluation.

Course Code: AHVS 488A

Museum Information Management

Today's museums and cultural institutions are strengthened by their creative use of the wealth of digital information/media they collect, manage, preserve and share. Explore the dimensions, value and potential uses of this diverse range of digital resources and learn how to strategically harness these resources to improve the effectiveness of your cultural institution and its internal and online information assets.

This course provides you with the opportunity to examine your institution’s information opportunities and develop a project plan to act on one or more of them. Whether you work with education, collections, research, programming, marketing and audience development, or management within a museum or heritage setting, this course will be an asset to your career.

Course Code: AHVS 488N

Museums as Learning Environments

In this course, you will examine the role of museums, galleries, interpretive centres and other related organizations as effective informal learning environments. Topics include:

  • an exploration of the history and frameworks for museum learning and practice
  • learning theories and understanding visitors
  • audience engagement and development
  • organizations and facilities that support learning strategies for design
  • marketing, research and evaluation of learning initiatives

Course Code: AHVS 488V

Planning in Cultural Organizations

The central roles of planning in project development and/or organizational management and change are explored, along with a range of planning principles and methodologies suited to the museum, heritage and cultural sectors.

Course Code: AHVS 488R

Practicum in Cultural Resource Management

Application of cultural resource management theories to field-based practice through placement with an organization.

Course Code: AHVS 491B

Public Programming

In this course, you will examine the critical role of interpretation and public programming in helping museums and heritage organizations engage their communities in meaningful and long-term ways. You’ll explore how organizations can create memorable learning experiences for visitors by understanding their needs, motivations, learning preferences, and contextual influences.

This course also examines:

  • the role of interpretation in public programs
  • the process of developing thematic interpretive content
  • the strengths and weaknesses of various interpretive and program approaches

You will learn about some powerful interpretive strategies that use the senses, material culture, multiple perspectives, stories and memory. You will look at planning, delivery, staffing, management and evaluation issues for a range of public programming approaches that occur on-site at museums and heritage organizations.

This course will also explore community outreach approaches—including the new realm of web-based public programs—and consider how museums and heritage organizations can embrace learning as a valued outcome for internal and external stakeholders and develop effective, long-term community partnerships.

Course Code: AHVS 488G

Social Engagement

Museums and other cultural heritage organizations have the capacity to serve as dynamic social spaces for community engagement and action. This graduate course explores the profound social changes that are reshaping the nature and purposes of museums in a pluralistic society and considers the implications for all aspects of their specialized functions. During the first half of the course participants utilize a group of core resources to assist their learning about how the museum and cultural field has evolved, why social and community engagement is a critical foundation for all other professional practices, and how other organizations have begun their journeys towards engagement. The second half of the course introduces participants to a series of skills and practices to initiate, facilitate, and support community engagement and embed them in organizational life. Participants complete either a research paper on a topic relevant to the course, including a proposal, literature / resources review and essay, or a community engagement plan, with components on strategy, participants, proposed engagement process / steps, and follow up activities to embed community engagement into ongoing practice.

Course Code: AHVS 488W

Visitor Experiences

This course explores the evolving concept and implications of an holistic approach to visitor engagement in museums and other cultural heritage institutions. Topics include:

  • museums’ relationships with their publics
  • museums’ capacity to serve as social spaces
  • strategies for audience research
  • the characteristics of visitors
  • communications
  • exhibitions
  • formal and informal learning activities
  • evaluation strategies

Course Code: AHVS 488Y

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