The History Leadership Institute, AASLH’s professional development program for mid-career history professionals, introduced its long-running Seminar in a new format in June.
In 1959, the Seminar began as an effort to train newly graduated history students and directors of history museums in the unique skills of managing museums, historic sites, and archives in a six-week program held at Colonial Williamsburg, During the decades that followed, the Seminar has continually changed to meet the needs of the field and explore new and emerging practices.
In 2019, the Seminar expanded from a three-week residential program to a four-week hybrid with two weeks online and two weeks in-person to provide greater flexibility and access. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed implementation until 2022, but it was worth the wait. The change in format made the Seminar more convenient and applications increased. As one participant noted, “Two weeks was a really long time to be away from my family. I never would have been able to do this when it was 3 weeks on site.”
The 2022 Seminar featured 37 sessions and 24 Facilitators leading sessions on intentional practice with Randi Korn; aligning mission and budgets with Becky Beaulieu; rethinking strategic alliances with Erin Carlson Mast; facilitating participatory decision-making with Sarah Pharaon; transforming how the public experiences history with David Young; and leading from the middle with Julie Johnson. New this year were sessions on growing ethical relationships with Lauren Peightel and John Bickers; engaging communities through history with George McDaniel and Ken Turino; supercharging your museum’s civic identity with Sarah Jencks; and measuring success with John Wetenhall. We also explored the latest AASLH projects on reframing history and themes for the 250th anniversary with John Dichtl.
We’ve also reshaped the sessions. A few are longer double sessions to explore topics in greater depth while a few are half-sessions on intriguing ideas, such as resilience strategies with Anne Ackerson and building more diverse collections with Nicole Martinez-LeGrand. Field trips to the collections at the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana State Museum, along with a day at Conner Prairie, provide provocative case studies for our discussions. Oh, it was so much nicer to visit Conner Prairie on a warm summer day when it was filled with visitors, rather than the usual cold and rainy day in November.
With the success of the hybrid Seminar format, it’s time for me to pass the role as director of HLI onto someone new. I’ve really enjoyed working with so many thoughtful people during the last five years, as well as developing a long-range plan to increase its sustainability. The pandemic certainly complicated matters, but it also accelerated our plans to offer online courses for mid-career professionals. AASLH will hire a new director in 2023 as a contractor, so watch for that announcement in the fall.
My thanks to the AASLH Partners and HLI Alumni who make this Seminar possible for the 18 participating Associates, with a special thanks to my logistical partners Alex Collins at AASLH and Marianne Shelline at the Indiana Historical Society. If you are interested in participating in 2023, look for announcements to apply this fall. More details at HistoryLeadership.org.