Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations. In this environment, it is essential that higher learning and knowledge creation involve effective partnerships among academic and non-academic learning institutions and communities to create and apply learning and knowledge with stakeholders that are managing and creating sustainable development initiatives. Growing concern regarding the importance of the contribution that higher education institutions make to society has aroused increasing debate about their relevance and credibility amid escalating social problems. An underlying premise of community engagement is the understanding that not all knowledge and expertise resides in the academy, and that both expertise and great learning opportunities in teaching and scholarship also reside in non-academic settings.
This conference will explore how LIS educators and researchers can develop curricula, programs, and research activities that enable active partnerships with communities and civil society to manage and create change. How can LIS programs increase opportunities for experiential, service oriented, and community engaged student learning? How can we develop further collaboration between LIS programs and their larger communities (local, regional/ state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity?
This paper reports on a course project designed to meaningfully connect students in University of Pittsburgh’s Library and Information Science program with the University’s “LAM” (Library, Archive, and Museum) community. In the 2015 and 2016 summer terms, students in a graduate course titled Museum Archives conducted semester-long provenance research projects, investigating the ownership history of art objects and rare materials in the University Art Gallery and University Library System’s collections. Designed with Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s (1991) theory of situated learning in mind, this project facilitated students’ real-life experience with provenance research in order to deepen their understanding of records that document an object’s identity and “itinerary through history” (Feigenbaum & Reist, 2012, p. 2). This paper discusses the provenance research project and the context of the University of Pittsburgh’s LAM community and introduces Lave and Wenger’s conceptualization of situated learning. We articulate the characteristics of the project design that led to a successful learning experience for the students and an effective partnership among the LAM units involved with the goal of providing ideas for instructors considering the integration of an experiential project into coursework.