Dissertation Proposal Defense: Rose Paquet
Please join Rose Paquet as she defends her dissertation proposal on March 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bloedel 070A.
Title: Cultivating Inclusion in U.S. Museums: Investigating Practitioners’ Perspectives and Experiences via The Incluseum
In the U.S., museums have long struggled with elitism and exclusion. Recently, however, the notion of inclusion has become a central and defining aspect of contemporary U.S. museological practice and thought. In just the last year, a number of institutional and grassroots initiatives made strides towards centering inclusion in the U.S. museum field. For example, institutionally, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) announced a 3-year grant initiative aimed to “provide the framework, training, and resources for museum leaders to build inclusive cultures within their institutions that more accurately reflect the communities they serve” (American Alliance of Museums, Jan. 15, 2019). At the same time, individual and grassroots efforts are many and varied. For example, museum leader, and public intellectual, Nina Simon announced her new initiative called of/by/for/all that will act as an “accelerator for change within the broader movement for diversity, equity, and inclusion in community-based organizations” (of/by/for/all, n.d.). While significant, these and other efforts remain disparate and present few explicit connections made between them.
Two interlinked objectives motivate my proposed dissertation. The first is theoretical – I aim to constructively bring some order to the assorted initiatives, calls to action, and literature pertaining to inclusion in U.S. museums to contribute a sustainable and systematic approach to fostering the active cultivation of inclusion in museums. The second is empirical – I aim to bring forth and connect the experiences and perspectives of U.S.-based museum practitioners and scholars to the theoretical inquiry.
Grounded in these two interlinked objectives, I first discuss various dimensions of inclusion in museums in order to probe how sustainable and systemic change centered on inclusion can be brought about. I focus my discussion on the significance of inclusion to the museum field, its history, and who has been involved in conversations about it. In particular, I highlight how authors such as Taylor (2017) and Taylor and Kegan (2017) put forth whole system approaches to inclusion in museums. Next, building on such an approach, I develop a framework entitled Four Interacting Levels of System Change for Cultivating Inclusion. This framework is made of actionable strategies synthesized from contemporary sources on inclusion in U.S. museums and presents a view of an aspired-to state of practice.
Then, I propose to conduct an instrumental case study of The Incluseum, a project that I co-founded in 2012. Since then, it has become the longest run multivocal platform dedicated to ongoing inquiry about inclusion in museums. I focus on the following two questions:
- What insights does the content of The Incluseum provide into the state of practice pertaining to inclusion in U.S. museums?
- How is the cultivation of inclusion perceived and experienced by stakeholders of The Incluseum in the U.S.?
To explore this instrumental case, I propose to utilize three methods of inquiry, namely, thematic content analysis of Incluseum blog posts, semi-structured interviews with a purposefully selected group from various Incluseum stakeholder categories, and a wider survey of Incluseum stakeholders, namely, U.S.-based museum practitioners. I propose to use the framework I have constructed in the first part of my dissertation in three different ways. First, I will use it as a probe during the interviews. Next, I will utilize it to craft the survey instrument. Finally, I will leverage it as an analytical guide for my data analysis.
Given the ongoing and increasing momentum of action and discourse around inclusion in the U.S. museum field, this research project is timely and poised to make a valuable contribution to the field of museology and museological practice. Specifically, the empirical work that I propose to carry out will contribute museum scholars’ and practitioners’ perspectives and experiences regarding the cultivation of inclusion in U.S. museums. Moreover, the research will shed new light on the current state of practice related to inclusion in the field. I anticipate that the empirical work will refine and give credibility to the Four Interacting Levels of System Change for Cultivating Inclusion framework and help to guide inclusion effort into the future.
- Dave Hendry (Chair)
- Jessica Luke
- Elena Gonzales (external)
- Leilani Nishime (GSR).