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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unpleasant Things: Teaching Advocacy in Archival Education Programs


As graduate archival education programs have grown in scope, the variety of courses offered has changed to include some that prepare students to grapple with challenging and sometimes controversial aspects of the profession. This paper offers insights gained from teaching a course on archival advocacy, one that expanded over more than a decade from a focus on access to public outreach to ethical issues. This shift in focus created particular problems in engaging students who come to the graduate program with basic presuppositions about archival work that do not often mesh with the reality of this professional community; challenges also arise because of the kinds of training students expect from professional schools within the university. The essay places this course in the context of the modern university and the changing archival community and considers the challenges and potential successes of engaging graduate students within a professional school.

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