ICCROM International Summer School on Communication and Teaching Skills in Conservation and Science
10 – 21 July 2017. Rome, Italy

Summer school

ICCROM’s third instalment of the International Summer School on Communication and Teaching Skills in Conservation and Science, 10 – 21 July 2017 in Rome, has recently been concluded. This two-week course brought together conservation professionals from 25 different countries and a range of professional backgrounds to investigate and explore alternative approaches to teaching and learning about conservation and science, while examining existing practices in the field.

Conservation education programmes and professional development activities are often under pressure to teach more in less time. New didactic methods, concepts and tools are needed to design and implement learning activities for maximum results. By innovating and using proven effective modalities to tackle the core concepts of conservation and science, common challenges can be seen through a new lens, and learning can be moved from the laboratory to the everyday world around us.

Through a series of interactive sessions in the ICCROM classroom and throughout Rome, course participants spent an intensive two weeks balancing rigour with the right touch of fun. The result was a diverse group of conservation professionals now equipped with new perspectives and new energy to revisit conventional teaching methods and give them a greater impact.

The course began with a discussion on the assumptions that conservation practitioners make about each other. Unpacking these assumptions introduced an element of self-questioning, and set the scene for greater openness in teaching and learning. With that as a starting point, participants explored the effectiveness and suitability of various learning modalities in conservation.  They discussed what it means to be interdisciplinary within the conservation field and how this can best be accomplished.

After reflecting on a lecture on object biographies and significance by Dinah Eastop, participants put these ideas into practice by carrying out significance assessments in the chapel of Rome’s Villa Lante. Later in the week, Summer School team members also presented a variety of case studies on community involvement in conservation.

Summer school

With modalities, significance and community participation in mind, the Summer School spent Saturday 15 July at Vallinfreda, where they learned how this small community teaches school groups about traditional Italian culture and wildlife. The participants practiced learning skills with a group of community elders who spoke only Italian, who shared with them preparation methods for traditional foodways in the region.  In this way the participants experienced intergenerational knowledge transfer without benefit of a common spoken language, but where learning occurred by observation and through non-verbal communication.

Sampling exercises were conducted in a Roman produce market, and norms were challenged by José Luiz Pedersoli, former ICCROM staff, during his lecture on myths and taboos in conservation practice.

The Summer School was both an opportunity for intercultural exchange and experience with various nations from across the globe, and a chance to reflect on the best professional means to transfer what we know as conservation practitioners to others.

Read about the redesign of a Masters programme by a former Summer School participant:

Elizabeth E. Peacock, « The Postgraduate Research Methods Course in Conservation: The Practical Approach Taken at the University of Gothenburg », CeROArt [Online], HS | 2017, Online since 19 June 2017. URL: http://ceroart.revues.org/5089

“An unforeseen resource in this preparatory background work was the two-week ‘International Summer School on Communication and Teaching Skills in Conservation and Science’ course offered by ICCROM (ICCROM, n.d.) for the first time in July 2013, and onto which the author was fortunate enough to be accepted. This course not only presented a wide range of teaching methods but also did so through practice. As a result, many of these delivery methods have been incorporated into the revised Research Methods course.”

Member States represented: Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Russian Federation, Syria, United Kingdom