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Subject: Survey on scientific education for conservators

Survey on scientific education for conservators

From: John Greenwood <john.greenwood<-at->
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Conservation Science, Teaching and Learning

Is there a better way of achieving the goals of providing scientific
education for conservators?


The University of Canberra, as with all universities and colleges
offering conservation education, has to produce courses that are
interesting, relevant and serve the needs of the conservation
profession. Along with most other education it has to provide
courses that are economically viable and meet the institutions
organisational and economic framework.  To survive there is a
constant pressure to increase the number of students and deliver the
course units in a way that will engage and educate them whilst
meeting their diverse needs and educational backgrounds.

To meet these needs the University of Canberra Heritage Conservation
section has produced a wider heritage based course underpinning the
subject and offering a range of relevant courses which enable the
student to receive an education that meets the broader needs of the
heritage community. This will however result in fewer units specific
to conservation.

I am currently researching the best way to answer the need for the
students to receive an appropriate science education, which matches
the new programme. We have traditionally attracted a very diverse
intake of students but some of these have found the chemistry
requirements, a minor program consisting of units offered to all
science and health students, too vigorous and hard and we have lost
a lot of potentially excellent students. The new structure will
allow them to access science when they are ready and when and if
they find their way to see the 'endless immensity of science'.  The
conservation course has traditionally had a low intake of students.
This is in common with all other conservation courses worldwide.
There is an argument for this as conservation is a specialist area
of study with limited jobs becoming available each year. However
without boosting the intake and working within the increasingly
difficult economic climate that universities have to work within, it
will not survive.

In the past, students have been required to study the university
chemistry units that are offered to all students of science, health
and related subjects.  These offered a comprehensive chemistry
education but for some students it was too hard and many either
failed or just gave up. In broadening our courses we will attract
more students who have come from a non scientific background and
hopefully making the wider heritage and conservation opportunities
open to a wider audience.

Conservation is traditionally a field that attracts mature returners
who are looking for a change of career and attracts students from an
arts or craft based background or other non science areas. This is
an excellent opportunity for the profession to widen its skills
base, but can also have some problems regarding the essential
understanding of the science that is also needed.

I would like to find out about your experiences in becoming a
conservator. Did you find the process easy?  Did you struggle with
science? Did you dream of becoming a conservator but found the
process too daunting. Where there pre requisites put in your way
that helped or hindered.

If you could spend a few minutes completing this survey and perhaps
send me some observations and thoughts on the subject.

Thank you for completing the survey.

I would be grateful for any comments regarding your thoughts and
experiences with conservation and science.  I am interested in any
ideas, comments and especially anecdotal stories of fears,
expectations, failures and successes.

I will be presenting my initial findings at the New Zealand
Conservators of Cultural Materials Conference and will will be
publishing it as a paper later in the year.

   "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect
    wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them
    to long for the endless immensity of the sea"
        --Antione de-Saint Exupery

John Greenwood
Senior Lecturer, Cultural Heritage Conservation
Faculty of Arts and Design
University of Canberra
ACT 2601
+61 2 6201 2693

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:20
                  Distributed: Sunday, October 7, 2012
                       Message Id: cdl-26-20-016
Received on Wednesday, 26 September, 2012

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