Public Programming

Code: AHVS488G
Apply this course towards: Visitor and Community Engagement, Cultural Resource Management, Collections Management

Course description

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.

Learning objectives

  1. Describe the new effectiveness mandates in museums and heritage organizations and the evolving role of interpretation and public programs.
  2. Identify the needs, characteristics, motivations and learning styles of various audiences and visitors to museums and heritage organizations.
  3. Recognize interpretation as a communication process, articulate interpretive significance and thematically organize interpretive content.
  4. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of various interpretive and program approaches and articulate a number of best practices for creating memorable learning experiences.
  5. Recognize some key issues related to planning, implementing and evaluating public programs.
  6. Recognize some key issues related to recruiting, training, managing and evaluating program and interpretive staffs and volunteers.
  7. Articulate the importance of interpretation, public programs, community engagement and teamwork in achieving the new effectiveness mandates in museums and heritage organizations.


  1. A current professional or volunteer role in a museum or cultural-sector organization in order to succeed in the course and undertake a range of assignments and discussion with reference to the organization’s mission, values, planning, communities, programs, exhibitions, collections or management structures. 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 role or experience. Please contact the program office if you have questions.
  2. Regular access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.
  3. University-level research, writing, and critical thinking skills.


This course is eligible for the StrongerBC future skills grant. To register using this grant please first review your eligibility and then select the StrongerBC future skills grant fee type below. 


Dr. Candace Tangorra Matelic

Candace Tangorra Matelic has been active in the museum field for over three decades. She worked in public programming at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village and at Iowa Living History Farms, and as Director of the Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu, and Historic St. Mary’s City in Maryland. She also served as the Executive Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe and as the Interim Director at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, helping both organizations through important transitions  Candace also served as Director and Professor of Museum Studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program for the decade from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. In 1998, shestarted CTM Professional Services, a business focused on consulting, teaching, and project management in the areas of organizational analysis, change, development, and learning; strategic planning; community engagement; transformational leadership; and strategic interpretation and public program planning.

Candace’s recent work has included a lot of community engagement work — helping museums and heritage organizations to engage their communities to play an active role in strategic interpretation planning, feasibility studies, or organizational development. She also teaches workshops on organizational transformation, based on her dissertation research on organizational change in history museums.

Candace has also done a lot of interpretive planning, as there seems to be a great need for this in the field, but in actuality she is guiding my clients through transformational change and spending more and more time helping clients to start working with their communities. Training and organizational development is incorporated into every project so that clients have the tools they need to build a more productive and humane workplace as well as build meaningful relationships with their audiences and communities.

Candace has also been very active in the museum field, serving as president and board member for the Association for Living History, Farms and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM), as well as annual meeting program chair, committee member and local arrangements chair, and most recently on a team to revise and update the organization’s bylaws. She founded the Midwest Open Air Coordinating Committee (MOMCC) and served as the first president. Her service for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) includes two terms on council and as secretary, annual meeting program chair, member of many committees, co-chair of the national task force on professional training, faculty for numerous workshops, and developing the current Not Your Ordinary Workshop Series. For the American Association of Museums (AAM), she served on the committees for professional training and museum studies (now COMPT), completed a large survey of museum studies graduates, and as a faculty member for two professional development seminars. Candace has been a member of ICOM, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Museum Education Roundtable (MER), and have served on state museum association boards in Hawaii and Maryland. Since 1980 she has been a reviewer for IMLS, NEH, the Public Dimension of Museums assessment program, and the Heritage Philadelphia Program of the Pew Charitable Trust.

Candace has presented at over 100 conferences in the US, Canada, and Europe, over 35 times as a keynote speaker. Recent workshops taught include community engagement and tools for organizational transformation. In the last few years she has worked with the Alberta Museums Association and the Association of Nova Scotia Museums. Her publications include two co-authored books, a video, and 25+ articles/chapters.

Candace holds a BFA from the University of Michigan, an MA in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Studies from the University at Albany, part of the State University of New York system.

When not teaching, consulting, or working, Candace can usually be found spending time with her daughter and their dog Sarge. She is an active Rotarian, and enjoys participating in our many cultural events.


What participants are saying

"I'm very glad I took this course. I've learned a whole lot more than I had anticipated and I've been able to use my newfound knowledge at my workplace already. Thank you!"

"Amazingly relevant.”

"[Instructor Candace Matelic’s] thoughts were current and her insights were incredibly valuable as it pertains to the challenges of the future of public programming in museums."

"[Instructor Candace Matelic] has a vast knowledge on the topic and was able to provide insight into the learning material. The structure of the class was helpful in order to manage my time and also to unify the information on the topics covered."

"It was really neat to be able to have a discussion with our guest, Donna Braden."

"The assignments have been very interesting and helpful in my work life."


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. The mode of contact with the course instructor is via email or online forums.

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 by the 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.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have not already been admitted to UVic, you cannot take this course(s) for credit. Program Application Deadlines are as follows:

September entry:  July 1
January entry:  November 1
May entry: March 1

However, if you had applied to the program before the application deadline, you will be permitted to register in the course(s).

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