AHRC/Newton Khalidi funded project/ Feb 2019 - Jan 2021
This project was shortlisted for the 2020 Newton Prize and is an affiliated project of the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).
Image above: Training session led by Jihad Kafafi at Salt Historical Museum.
Communities and especially the younger generation in Jordan are insufficiently engaged with their cultural heritage, both in formal education and at touristic heritage sites and museums, which do much for the Jordanian economy but little for its social development. Our project is designed to tackle this challenge, by working with and training museum staff, teachers and university lecturers and students to take advantage of the rich educational resources of Jordanian museums, and to consequently create better opportunities for young people to value Jordan's rich past.
Some key principles underpin our mission: undertaking our research in a rigorous, critical and ethical manner; working with the past for the benefit of present-day and future generations of Jordanians; celebrating the cultural heritage of Jordan's diverse communities; highlighting the educational value of museums and their collections; identifying, sharing and adapting best professional practice for the Jordanian museum and education sectors; creating and working in new partnerships that connect not only some of the best scholars and heritage professionals in Jordan and the UK, but also museums, schools and universities, for mutual benefit; and persuading influential policy makers that, by adopting these transformative principles, museums and their users can make a positive and lasting difference to Jordan's economy, culture and society.
Despite over 40 years of academic and professional research and debate over community engagement in heritage globally, we still need to understand much more about the Jordanian museum situation, including the professional and social barriers to fully exploiting their educational potential. We also need to find out – by systematically asking and listening to people in the heritage and education sectors - what developmental changes might work best in the Jordanian context. We are certain that high quality training of our collaborating museum staff and educators will make a difference. But we also want to experiment as a team with new ways of teaching and learning in museums, to figure out what approaches work best, both for teachers and for young learners. Ultimately, we want to pass on what we have learnt to other stakeholders, ranging from decision makers in Jordan to scholars and museum professionals globally.
Image above: Project members from Jordan and Durham visit the Durham World Heritage site.
Image above: Discussion between Hashemite University student and pupils from Balqis Primary School about a statue of Tyche in the Amman Citadel Museum