Researching Concepts

In conversation with academic experts, you will reflect, at a conceptual level, on different academic and professional discourses about the dynamics of culture and societal change. The use and meaning(s) of key concepts such as culture, identity, heritage, sustainability, inclusivity, participation, authenticity and digitality will be discussed by utilising concrete examples from different historical, social and spatial contexts. Students will be given the tools to research these concepts.

On the first day in class, the focus will be on ideas of culture and heritage and on ethnological fieldwork research as a starting point for professional interventions. On our first Friday excursion, we will put theory into practice during a city walk, acting as observers of every culture. We will answer the following questions: Where can we find interesting examples of interactions and interventions around objects of heritage? Why do we consider them to be interesting? How do they relate to our learning goals? In the following week, the focus will shift towards notions of positionality and identity, and we will introduce emotion networking as an instrument to map conflicting emotions and interests in social interactions around heritage objects.

The question “What is the object at stake?” will come up, and in week three we will shift our focus to the so-called biography of things and receive a first introduction to object analysis as an important research strategy for professional interventions in museum and heritage practice. Similarly, we will then continue each week to discuss concepts that challenge us to look at the field from a specific perspective, while exploring research methods that help us to understand better how these concepts translate into practice. Thus, after discussing the notion of stakeholders in the morning (what do we mean when we talk about stakeholders?), we will work on interview skills in the afternoon (how do we approach stakeholders in professional practice and what ethical issues are at stake here?). In the same way, a discussion on visitor engagement will be followed by a workshop on storytelling. A discussion on big data will be followed by a workshop on the visual representation of big data. Thus, we will combine theory, practice and ethics.