Human Resource Management in Cultural Organizations


Course description

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.

Learning objectives

  • Explain the basic elements of organizational structure and the internal dynamics of organizations with an emphasis on cultural organizations.
  • Describe the role of governance and the development of HR policies within a cultural resource management context.
  • Create human resource policies and practices that are consistent with the Canadian legal framework.
  • Provide an overview of the cultural sector in Canada, the characteristics of the cultural workforce and the HR management issues in the non-profit cultural organizations.
  • Describe and apply the main functions of human resource management, including:
    • planning for succession
    • staffing (recruitment and selection)
    • development (training, continuing professional education and competency development)
    • compensation
    • performance management
  • Address human resource issues in a union environment.
  • Integrate and manage volunteers.
  • Apply ethical standards and create professional expectations and accountability.


  1. Acceptance into the Diploma in Cultural Resource Management or PSC in Collections Management program or approval of Program Office (approval pending review of work, volunteer, and/or educational experience provided on course registration form).
  2. Though not required, current or prior experience in a museum or cultural organization would be an asset for success in this course. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure they can complete all course assignments and contribute meaningfully to all course discussions by drawing from their experience. Please contact the program office if you have questions.
  3. Access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.
  4. University-level research, writing, and critical thinking skills.



Sibyl Frei began consulting in 2000 with the intention of combining her management skills and her long-standing commitment to supporting the development of vibrant and healthy communities. Sibyl has extensive experience in project management, research, program review and evaluation, facilitation, writing and editing, and a commitment to excellence in her work. She has gained these skills through both paid and volunteer work in a variety of sectors, while specializing in work with arts and cultural organizations. For 11 years, Sibyl was the co-owner and managing editor of Ragweed Press / gynergy books, publishing Atlantic regional fiction and non-fiction, children’s literature and feminist and lesbian fiction and non-fiction. Prior to that, she worked in community economic development, with an emphasis on working with First Nations communities. In addition, Sibyl has over 30 years of experience serving on Boards and in other capacities in a broad range of non-profit organizations. Sibyl has a B.Sc. in physical science, and a Master of Adult Education with a focus on arts management. She has a Certified Professional Facilitator designation from the International Association of Facilitators, and a Certified Management Consultant designation from CMC-Canada.

What participants are saying

“Recognizes the ongoing struggle in museums between doing things the way they have always been done and looking toward creativity and community engagement in the future.”

“The content is relevant and current.”

“The main strengths were providing the basic premises of contemporary curatorship. The course helped to provide a much clearer understanding of what is required of curators even though the field varies from institution to institution.”

“Gave a good understanding of curatorial practice, its evolution and contemporary issues which relate to it.”

“Very good balance between the theoretical and the practical.”

“[Instructor Sibyl Frei was] very encouraging, demonstrated perspective and wanted us to look at things in new ways.”


Online format using the learning management system (LMS), Brightspace, over a 14-week period, requiring approximately 12-14 rigorous hours of coursework per week.

Students login to the course and communicate with the instructor and fellow students via the Brightspace course site. This course follows an asynchronous delivery model.

This course will use online text-based notes and/or PowerPoint presentations, forum-based discussions, individual and individual assignments, and print and online readings/resources. In addition to completing assignments and activities, participants are expected to contribute meaningfully and frequently to forum-based discussions weekly.

Attendance, participation and decorum

Whether registered as a credit or non-credit participant, you will be expected to:

  • login to the course website on a regular basis throughout each week
  • participate in class activities, and thoughtfully and articulately contribute to course forum discussions by reflecting upon assigned readings and professional experiences
  • submit course assignments on scheduled course deadline dates
  • notify course instructors of any personal leaves throughout the term that will affect class participation well in advance
  • notify the instructor of any situation that will compromise the timely submission of an assignment or activity to work out alternate arrangements well in advance of due date
  • provide work throughout the course that is effectively organized and researched, professionally presented, and well-written
  • interact with colleagues, program staff, and course instructors in a respectful and positive manner at all times

Note: if a student has not signed into the course site website by 100% tuition refund drop date, the Program Office reserves the right to withdraw the student from the course. Participation in online courses is mandatory and online interactions are the most important part of the course learning experience. As such, “catching up” at such a late date without prior approval—and make-up scheduling by the instructor and/or program—is impossible.

Privacy Considerations

In some cases, participants and the course instructor may discuss examples that reflect an actual situation, institution, or community. In order to create an environment where all feel free to discuss and learn from situational issues, it is asked that everyone respect the confidential nature of the institutions and communities being discussed.

While the site is password protected, note that email and course discussion forum groups are never entirely confidential and are subject to freedom of information and privacy legislation. Your use of these communication tools should reflect the public nature of the media.

We ask that you respect the copyright of any and all course materials and note that these are circulated and shared for the purposes of this course only. Further reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Personal information at the University is protected by the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the University’s Protection of Privacy Policy.

Disclosure of personal information to vendors, systems or services storing or accessing that information outside of Canada is restricted by s.30.1 of FIPPA.

Instructors may use a variety of educational technology in a course including internet-based technologies, or web-based applications, cloud services and social media. The use of technology is intended to enhance and/or deliver students’ education and is part of a students’ engagement at the University. Some of these technologies may collect, use, disclose, and store student and instructor personal information outside of Canada.

In some courses, instructors may require students to use educational technology and social media which stores personal information outside of Canada, in such cases, instructors will try to provide options (such as using an alias to register).

If students do not want their personal information stored or accessed outside of Canada, in certain rare instances, courses may not be available to them. If the course is required for the completion of a degree, alternatives will be provided.

Course Credit

1.5 units at UVic or may be taken on a non-credit basis.

Registration details

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