Historic Preservation and Higher Education: What is its Purpose?

This post is one I did for work and is posted on the National Trust for Historic Preservation Blog. It came out of a larger conversation on the preservation professional listserve.

Historic Preservationists wear many hats. They are advocates, architects, community organizers, accountants, webmasters, managers, conservators, and teachers. In the same vein, preservationists come to the field from a variety of entrances—from main street, grassroots advocacy for a local building, policy work, or just by accident. Increasingly the decision to enter the field has come from academic institutions.

During the last two weeks on Forum-L preservationists (one of the benefits of being a Forum member) have been discussing the purpose of academic training in historic preservation. Prompted by this article, which takes a look at some of the possible changes for the University of Kentucky Historic Preservation Program, members debated the benefits of theoretical versus technical knowledge and the need to affiliate historic preservation programs with allied fields. In particular some members emphasized how the theoretical underpinnings of the field are not enough, that to truly succeed in the field students have to find their own niche and specializations. member) have been discussing the purpose of academic training in historic preservation. Prompted by

I come to this conversation from the standpoint of a public historian, essentially someone who practices history outside of the academy where the primary audience is the public writ large. It is a field that, in my opinion, really examines the same issues that the historic preservationists on Forum-L were discussing, albeit from a slightly different angle.

To read the full post visit the PreservationNation blog here.

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