HA 489C—Determining Significance of Heritage Resources (1.5 units)
This course is from University of Victoria’s Cultural Resource Management program. Being one of the core courses of the Professional Specialization Certificate in Heritage Conservation Planning it seems to be offered on a fairly regular basis—at least once every two years. I took it during the Winter 2011 semester (Jan-Apr) as a 14-week distance course, though it has been offered as a 1-week intensive at the University. For more information see: http://www.uvcs.uvic.ca/aspnet/Course/Detail/?code=HA489C.
The objective of the course was to familiarize students with the issues at play in determining the significance of heritage resources. Content leaned heavily toward values-based management (Alastair Kerr is a major proponent on the subject and lectures internationally), however other systems were explored. The key skill which students will come away with is the ability to write effective Statements of Significance (S.O.S.). Also, research skills for architectural history is practiced and a number of related urban planning issues are explored. I feel that the objectives were met very well, and based the general feed back from the instructor, participants achieved a high degree of success in assignments.
I did not find the course particularly difficult. It was, however, time-consuming. It has been a few years since I last took an upper-level course, so I am having difficulties remembering the workload. Each unit had readings from the reprint package, as well as websites, articles and audio interviews to review, and weekly entries on the course forum. There were three assignments which for me totalled 32 pages of written work (this included notes for the S.O.S.).
For the most I enjoyed the readings. In particular, I was E.H. Carr’s “The Historian and His Facts” from What Is History? stands out: I wish I had read that at the start of my studies in History. While I won’t dispute the usefulness of any of the readings, there were a couple of readings dealing with planning and public interaction which I felt could use their own course or perhaps greater recognition in the courses objectives.
The course forum allowed for interaction with other students of varying stages of their careers, from students working toward their bachelor to professionals well into their careers but looking to up-grade skills. The majority of students were from Canada (Vancouver Island and Southern Ontario in particular), but there were American students as well, and one person from Mexico. As I have noticed in past courses, the forum was immensely popular at the start of the course, but waned as time went on.
It was not difficult to see the relevance of the three assignments—defining values-based management, review an evaluation system and writing an S.O.S. I appreciated the requirement for the Analyzing and Designing an Evaluation System for Heritage Resources assignment. Beyond the obvious of studying and organization’s program, finding a partner heritage organization a helped create an excellent new contact for me and promises future opportunities for networking.
I would be remiss if I did not compliment the instructor. You can read about Alastair’s experience on the above link to the course website. He is an enthusiastic communicator who obviously has great passion for what he does. His feedback is constructive and regular, which I feel is very important for this type of program.
The only thing I might change would to incorporate a system of review assignments before handing them in, possibly as part of the forum. It would give students some ready-made content for the forum and allow for reviewing other’s feedback…maybe even by other students.