Saturday, April 12, 2008

Historians/Interpreters Working Group

An innovation at this year's NCPH conference is the addition of three "working groups" focusing on specific issues within public history. Chuck Arning, a National Park Service ranger and co-facilitator of the working group charged with finding ways to build bridges between historical research and interpretation functions within the National Park Service, contributed this report:
This highly engaged working group xamined those issues that kept historians and interpreters from reaching their collaborative efficiency, and found that while there are many issues that required broader organizational support, there were a few key things that came out loud and clear that we all could take home with us.

* First, there is a a strong level of commitment by all involved to continue to build bridges between historians and interpreters.

* We recognized that interpreters needed to have a good toolkit bookshelf that many organizations contribute to - i.e. a reservoir of knowledge that could be drawn upon to assist them in doing their job.

* This was a high-energy group, and there’s a commitment to continue the dialogue. We had an audience of 18 people above the members of the working group itself, and we collected emails from all. So now the challenge that we have is to figure out how to make this dialogue work. There was a strong desire to take some immediate actions – for example, Tim Merriman of National Association of Interpreters has offered to do a thematic issue of Legacy, the mag of NAI, based on public history, and several others stepped up to the plate to begin to develop pieces of the toolkit and continue the dialogue.

* And finally, it was the general consensus that the session was too short!

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