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In the golden haze of graduation (April 2012), building design and heritage consultant Alex Willis reflects ...
The study of cultural heritage embraces many aspects of everyday life. In the mix of regular architectural design work associated with my own business, I have been professionally involved with the documentation of several heritage projects. I seriously became interested in heritage works several years ago when I chose to undertake an extensive research into a limestone cottage. In a state of ruin it lacked any sort of recognition and as part of my other studies then, I chose to reveal the building did indeed have a story that required telling.
Some three years ago I was scrolling through various internet webpage's on heritage when I came across a course offered by Deakin University on Cultural Heritage. This intrigued me and I began to make enquiries and discovered many units to my liking - I was keen to start.
I soon became aware that the assignment questions were extremely thought provoking; they demanded exploration of complex issues, and the academics demanded sound grammatical writing as well. Over time, I enjoyed and fully appreciated the challenge - it was rather like another architectural project.
To me, the Deakin methods of distance delivery inspired ever-greater efforts in self-motivation, resourcefulness, efficiency and independence - I particularly enjoyed this. To offset occasional feeling of remoteness, a lack of contact or student camaraderie, I chose to use the online discussion pages actively. I also regularly emailed lecturers and used VOIP connections - a new exciting experience.
I would like to thank Deakin staff for bringing together an off-campus course that not only empowered me with further knowledge, but also generated an enthusiastic and passionate response. I thoroughly appreciated the high standard of study material delivered for reading, and the personal extension demanded in fulfilling the answers to questions. I took upon myself to develop my own library based on the books listed, and now have an excellent professional resource. I managed my time by limiting the number of units I undertook each trimester, thus, assignment submission dates were well spaced to make deadlines.
Thank you: it's been a fulfilling experience from acceptance, through the course's duration and finally to graduation, which I was thrilled to attend.
Alex C Willis
AFAIM; Master. Cult. Heritage (Deakin Univ); Grad.Dip. Cult. Heritage (Deakin Univ); Dip.Bldg.Des.Tech (CIT.Perth); Dip.IntDes(CIT.Perth). Cert.BPArch(Newcastle Univ);
Master's student returns from internship with UNESCO in Bangkok
I undertook a four-month internship at UNESCO Bangkok in late 2011 for the final subject (Heritage in the Field) of my Master of Cultural Heritage degree. I was in the Culture unit, where I worked on projects ranging from the "Documentation of Children's Traditional Games in the Asia-Pacific Region" program, to disaster preparedness in Thailand, responding to the devastating floods in 2011.
I hoped the internship would put into practice and build on what I had learnt from my course, developing experience, gaining understanding of international issues in cultural heritage, and observing the workings of a large international cultural organisation. As an archaeologist and cultural heritage advisor in Victoria, the placement at UNESCO was beyond my work and study so far.
The Bangkok office is UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Education in Asia and the Pacific, and serves as Cluster Office to Thailand, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia. The cultural diversity of this region offered much for my particular interest in intangible aspects of cultural heritage, such as oral history, traditions, beliefs and language as well as cultural landscapes.
My supervisor structured the internship for me to gain a sense of different aspects of UNESCO's aims, without becoming too involved in a single project, due to the limited time of my internship. This approach was also suitable for a mid-career person rather than for a student. My exposure to the range of work carried out by the Bangkok office enabled me to figure out areas to focus on in my future.
UNESCO is a world leader in the field of cultural heritage and my internship was a very rewarding experience. I came to appreciate the challenges that cultural heritage management faces in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of global change, as well as addressing it via creative policies and programs. Overall, the Deakin Master's and the Bangkok internship have added building blocks for my career in the heritage sector.
Mel Horder (2011) completed her studies with an exhibition held at Melbourne University
In 2009 I began studying for the Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies with Deakin University, following a Bachelor of Arts & Fine Arts and Honours in Asian Studies with the University of Tasmania. As I work full time at UTas and casually at MONA in Hobart, Deakin's flexible options allowed me to pursue study as on off-campus, part-time student.
Deakin's Museum Studies course also enabled me to obtain the practical experience that is so integral to winning work in the museum sector. In 2009 I took an internship with the University of Melbourne's Cultural Collections Program to fulfill the requirements of Deakin's work-integrated learning unit, 'Heritage in the Field'. The aim of my internship was to complete a Significance Assessment of the large and undocumented Dookie Campus Historical Collection, at the Dookie Campus of the University of Melbourne near Shepparton. I was able to spend a week on-site examining the collection before completing the write-up back in Hobart.
As a result of the success of this significance assessment, I was invited by the University of Melbourne to curate an exhibition of the Dookie Collection and to produce an article for the University's Cultural Collections magazine (no.9, 2011). Working on the exhibition - 'Building Rural Success: the early years of Dookie Agricultural College'- was immensely rewarding and has provided me with invaluable curatorial experience. The exhibition ran from November 2011 to February 2012 at the Baillieu Library on the Melbourne campus.
BA(Hons) University of Tasmania, Grad.Dip. Museum Studies Deakin University
Olivia Porter (2009) recommends 'Heritage in the Field' elective
I enrolled in the Master of Cultural Heritage at Deakin University to gain specialist skills in the field of Museum Studies. The Masters degree at Deakin is well structured and provides a theoretical perspective, professional practical skills and encourages hands on engagement.
I strongly encourage students to undertake the elective 'Heritage in the Field' to complement the Master's core subjects, as the opportunity to be involved in an experiential learning program has been invaluable. I was privileged to take part in the 'Sharing our Heritages' program. The program was jointly sponsored by the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training and the European Commission's, Directorate of General Education and Culture. It involved a semester abroad studying at BTU Cottbus in Germany and included two master classes in Natural and Cultural Management, one in Kakadu, Northern Territory, Australia and one in Paris, France. This provided me with a rich insight to the varying perspectives of Natural and Cultural Management in World Heritage sites and Museums and gave me an opportunity to broaden my understanding of Heritage and its unique roles.
I have also gained valuable insights into the Museum and Heritage Sector through an Internship with an Exhibitions Team at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and finally, by taking part in a field school in Vieng Xay, Laos in February 2009. This project was carried out in conjunction with SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) and Deakin University working in a cross cultural capacity with the Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Cave Office Staff on Moveable Cultural Heritage. The field school included duties relating to the priority treatment of textiles, photographs and books, the application of preventative conservation and storage solutions and the provision of recommendations for future Pro Poor Tourism initiatives.
In May 2009, I attended my first Museums Australia National Conference as a Student Representative for Deakin University and was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with others about the exciting opportunities the course provides.
BFA, University of Auckland, M Cultural.Heritage Deakin University
Prue Hawkey (2009) found she changed direction
When I commenced my Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies I was working part time at Bendigo Art Gallery as front of house/gallery attendant. I had a background in Visual Arts and Arts, so my focus was moveable cultural heritage rather than built heritage. I saw that the course had a broad syllabus, and felt this would assist me in gaining employment.
I began working with City of Greater Bendigo in 2007 as a temporary Heritage Project Officer, initially assisting with research and preparation of heritage studies. I soon recognised that I could broaden my skills in built heritage to complement the work I was doing, so I decided to do my Masters in Cultural Heritage. This qualification assisted me in obtaining my current permanent role as Heritage Officer. Now I project manage heritage studies by consultants; help implement strategic heritage projects; prepare funding applications; review and monitor the effectiveness of Council's heritage policies; and provide advice to Council's Heritage Advisory Committee.
My studies at Deakin were extremely enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of the course. The topics covered were as varied as planning, intangible heritage, marketing, interpretation, and collections management. This solid background provides so many opportunities - I have drawn on nearly all the subjects I did at some point in my career to date. The course also does great field trips to meet people in the industry and see behind the scenes - it's almost worth it just for that! The course also helped me make contacts in the industry and get further hands-on experience. I volunteered at NETS (National Exhibition Touring Support) for a while, assisting in registration and technical aspects of touring exhibitions.
Having experienced studying full time on campus and part time off campus, I can highly recommend both options. If you are able to make it on site, the lectures and field trips are well worth travelling for. If you are working full time, Deakin's off campus online facilities are fantastic – reading material for coursework and library books are delivered to your door. The virtual classroom or portal 'chat room' set up is also very helpful, with many interesting articles and information posted online
My studies at Deakin helped me enormously - I've got my foot in the door, and a solid background to further my career in the heritage sector.
Prue Hawkey, BVA (Latrobe), Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies and Master of Cultural Heritage (Deakin)
Rhonda Chrisanthou (2006) muses… "Looking for positive change in my professional career I decided to pursue my long term interests in visual art and cultural studies"
As a mature-aged person, I first enrolled in Deakin's Graduate Diploma course in Museum Studies as an off-campus student. This allowed me to work part-time as a secondary school teacher while I was able to complete the readings and assignments for various units.
Deakin provided all reading material for coursework and it was promptly delivered to my door. In addition, an online support network for library services and contacts with supportive lecturers and students provided a stimulating and highly accessible learning environment at home. With advanced standing for prior learning, I enrolled in the remaining units the following year. I was able to attend on-campus classes for two units - I really enjoyed attending tutorials, museum tours and participating in student group work.
Whether studying on-campus or on-line, I found the syllabus and methods of study consistent in planning, concise and always relevant. Assignments, which were often case studies, were highly engaging and allowed me to develop my strengths in Arts education. Having graduated in 2006, the Diploma, coupled with my knowledge and experience, was instrumental in gaining a position at Shepparton Art Gallery. A much closer alignment between my personal aspirations and interests has been completed.
BA, Dip. Ed., BEd., MA, Grad. Dip. Museum Studies
Education Officer, Shepparton Art Gallery
Amanda Thornton (2006) describes… "A job before I graduated!"
Working as office manager in an art transport and storage business, I became interested in museums by looking through the 'back door'. Despite no university degree, I was thrilled to be offered a place in Deakin's Postgraduate Diploma of Museum Studies on the basis of work experience. It was the beginning of a life-changing, rigorous and empowering preparation for a professional role in the museum sector. I gained a qualification that enabled me to secure full time employment with a museum - before I graduated!
I found Deakin's program infused with reality, expertise and enthusiasm. My lecturers were all respected and experienced professionals from across the museum and heritage sector. Studies combined history, philosophy, theory and practice, plus site visits, case studies, research tasks and excellent readings.
Assessment tasks required applying learning to real-life work situations, and I was encouraged to value and build on the sector networks I developed along the way. My classmates were intelligent and enthusiastic people from a wide variety of disciplines: local and international students, post-graduates applying their discipline specifically to museum and heritage work, museum professionals fine-tuning their expertise and qualifications, and others, such as myself, wishing to shape and add to existing knowledge and skills.
Amanda Thornton (Grad. Dip. Museum Studies 2006) is Assistant Registrar at the RAAF Museum Audit Registration Project at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, and undertaking further studies in art history and conservation.