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Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative workshop in Amman, Jordan.
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Our commitment to producing global preservation ambassadors is accomplished through continued support for international travel and scholarship. Institutional support and funds are expended, encouraging students to seek opportunities and engage in research that bridges societies, cultures and time periods. Faculty borrow objects requiring research or treatment from varied institutions and partners. Past and current students supported by Mellon Foundation funds have treated such objects as a Japanese bukaku mask, a Tibetan ritual drum from the Penn Museum, seal skin and fur mittens from the Explorer's Club, Christian Dior daywear heels from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and ancient Greek ceramics from the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Bryn Mawr College.
Our students' international activities contribute to increased mutual respect and civility for culture and people, just as their domestic internships preserve cultural contributions to American society. This work is a key component of our graduate education and training and connects preservation challenges across the US with those faced by colleagues worldwide. We ensure our students focus attention on deployment of practical preservation measures that consider geographic resources and limitations with examples and experiences throughout the curriculum. One example of this inspiration in practice is by current NEH Fellow Natalya Swanson, who is working with the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage to develop multilingual teaching didactics and packing strategies with locally sourced materials.
Beyond this, we are committed to ensuring our graduate curriculum is providing students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function in an ethnically and racially diverse nation and world. In partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UD, WUDPAC faculty have designed a longitudinal research study to assess the multicultural content of conservation coursework taught at WUDPAC, to assess and encourage the multicultural competency and critical reflection among our students, and to facilitate the addition of diverse perspectives into the conservation curriculum. The study is in its second year, with data collected from three cohorts of WUDPAC students, and initial curriculum consultations completed with WUDPAC faculty members.
Our faculty are global experts, and many are working internationally to build capacity for the preservation of cultural heritage in underserved regions of the world. We are routinely asked to assist with course development from China to Brazil, Latvia, the United Kingdom, and Abu Dhabi. Global engagement is a focus of our program, and a key strategic priority for the University of Delaware. Local, national, and international preservation and research initiatives are increasingly interconnected through globalization and technological developments that facilitate idea exchange. This commitment to implementation and support for global partnerships in collections care is evident in the international travel projects in which students and alumni are actively engaged and which they share with the public through publications, exhibits, and social media. Examples include:
Art conservation students are encouraged to study abroad and have completed summer work projects and third-year internships in Turkey, Poland, Australia, Canada, Israel, Great Britain, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Poland, and China. Qualified international applicants are mentored to pursue graduate degrees, and WUDPAC and PSP have accepted students from Costa Rica, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Russia, Uruguay, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Denmark, and Vietnam. Finally, visiting scholars from Bhutan, Bolivia, China, Croatia, and Ecuador have taken part in our graduate courses, providing unique perspectives that inspire our students with their viewpoints and skills, while gaining access to professional training and career development not otherwise available in their home countries; a scholar from Egypt joined us for the photographic materials block in January 2015.