University: University of Alexandria

Faculty: Faculty of Arts

Department: Department of Greek and Roman Archaeology and Studies, Museum Studies Program, Professional Diploma

Course Description

1. Basic Information

Course code:

Course Title: Social Responsibilities of Museums

Academic Program: Museum Studies Program, Professional Diploma in Museum Studies

Course Type:          Compulsory                                                    Elective

Hours/week: 3     theoretical:  2      practical:  2

Credit Hours: 3

2. Course Aims

This course aims to:

-Encourage students in both arts and sciences to explore questions central to the humanities through an investigation of material culture and the institutions that collect, preserve, interpret, and publicly display it.

-Provide an innovative forum to connect that academic work directly to the activities of museums, broadly defined to include art, history, natural history, and science museums as well as zoos, botanic gardens, aquariums, and heritage sites.

-Students may earn a minor in museums and society, intended to complement their major field of study, or may take courses out of general interest.

-The program’s overarching goals are to promote museum literacy, or the skills necessary to be critical interpreters of these influential institutions.

-Encourage students to reflect on their major field of study in new ways; and to enable them to be active, informed members of the broader cultural community now and throughout their lives.

-Offer a broad spectrum of introductory courses and advanced seminars that explore the myriad ways museums and collections “signify” in both the past and the present—as statements of political aspiration, ethnic consolidation, historical interpretation, cultural value, and so forth. Historical, critical, and theoretical studies are enhanced with courses that engage students directly with artifacts.

3. Intended Learning Outcomes

a. Knowledge and Understanding

·        Develop a rich understanding of a range of museum types and the issues and ideas that inform their activities in both the past and present

·        Build their knowledge of the social contexts surrounding the collection, preservation, circulation, and consumption of material culture, including the ways in which things accrue and/or change meaning over time as part of new contexts and collections

·        Mention the strategies used in museums for engaging the society.

·       Understand successful experiences of society inclusion with museums

b. Intellectual Skills

·        Acquire the skills necessary to be critical interpreters of museums as institutions that both shape and are shaped by the societies and events of which they are a part

·        Analyze the benefits of museums to the society.

·        Understand the applications of society-engagement strategies.

·       Analyze visitors’ profile to design society-centered activities

c. Professional Skills

·        Learn how to locate and evaluate a wide range of primary source types, with special attention paid to those of particular relevance to the history, practice, and reception of museums and heritage sites including but not limited to criticism, visual display, and the taxonomies of collections

·        Develop skills in interdisciplinary research, learning how to find and read critical scholarship on museums and material culture in a wide range of fields

·        Design a questionnaire to survey visitors, their needs and expectations from a museum.

·       Apply society-engagement strategies.

d. General & Transferable skills

·        Learn how to mobilize objects and collections to understand, interpret, and present culture, the past, and/or science

·        Develop competence working with primary material sources, including visual analysis, technical examination, and archival research

·        Gain experience in collaborative work done under professional conditions, with a public purpose and to a deadline

·        Use the internet to collect successful experiences of society engagement from various museums.

·        Work in groups and share knowledge.

·        Participate in oral discussions.

·        Write a critical review of a museum’s activities.

4. Course Contents

Topics covered by this course include:

-     Genres of Museums

-         Role of Museum in different societies.

-        Traditional role of museums in the society (collecting, preserving, storing).

-        Museums as educational centers

-        Museums as centers for entertainment

-        Museums as partners for research and health care

-        Community engagement strategies

-        Society inclusion of ethnic, religious and social minorities

-        Society inclusion: Internships and volunteers

-        Visitors’ studies principles and usage

5. Teaching and Learning Methods

-        -Presentations with Power Point.

-        - Videos

-        - Museum visits

-        - Activities

-        - Researches

-        Lectures

-        Analyzing case studies

-        Discussions

-        Group researches and presentations

6. Teaching and Learning Methods for Students of Limited Capabilities

Distance-learning through videoconferencing.

7. Students Assessment

a. Assessment methods

Oral presentation of a case study to the class and oral examination (open question prepared by the Student)

b. Assessment schedule and weight



% of total mark

Write a report about a case study



Write a critical review of a museum’s activities






Prepare a proposal for society-centered activities in a museum



Final Exam



8. List of References

a. Core readings:

- Emmanuel N. Arinze , The Role of the Museum in Society , Public lecture at the National Museum, Georgetown, Guyana , 1999.

-American Association of Museums. 2002. Mastering Civic Engagement: A Challenge to Museums. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.

-Bransford, J. D., A. L. Brown, and R. R. Cocking. 1999. How People Learn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

-Dewey, J. 1916/1944. Democracy and Education. New York: McMillan.

-Goode, G. B. 1888/1991. Museum history and museums of history. In The Origins of Natural Science in America, S. Kohlstedt, ed. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press.

- Laura Peers and Alison K. Brown (ed.), Museums and Source Communities, Routledge publishing, 2003.

-Rennie, L. J. and D. J. Johnson. 2004. The nature of learning and its implications for research on learning from museums. Science Education 88: S4–S16.

Sharon Macdonald (ed.), A Companion to Museum Studies, Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

 -Sullivan, L. E. and A. Edwards, eds. 2004. Stewards of the Sacred. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.

  1. Suggested readings:

- Andrea Gail Barnett, “Modern Museums: A Visitor-Centered Approach to Doing Business”, CLS Journal of Museum Studies, Volume 6, Number 1,

- Andrew V. Suarez and Neil D. Tsutsui, “The Value of Museum Collections for Research and Society”, BioScience, Volume 54, number 1, 2004.

- Center for the Future of Museums, Museums and Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures, American Association of Museums, December 2008.

-Hein, G. E. 1998. Learning in the Museum. London: Routledge.

-Hooper-Greenhill, E. 1999. The Educational Role of the Museum, Second Edition. London: Routledge.

-Helen Leighanne Ortiz, “Community Engagement in Small Museums in Northwest Texas:Serving Diverse Audiences Regardless of Museum Size or Population Base”, Journal of Museum Studies, Volume 9, number 1, 2002.

-Mackenzie Laminack, “From Taking In To Reaching Out: How Collections and Collections Staff Are Being Used to Create a Community-Centered Museum”, Journal of Museum Studies, Volume 9, number 1, 2002.

- Paul M Camic and Helen J Chatterjee, “Museums and Art Galleries as Partners for Public Health Interventions”, Perspectives in Public Health, Volume 133, number 1, 2013.

- Kathrine Pabst, Eva D. Johansen and Merete Ipsen (ed.), Towards New Relations between the Museum and Society, ICOM Norway, 2016.

-Sarah A. Cole, “Moments of Change: A “Bottom Up” Push towards a More Inclusive Museum”, Museums and Social Issues, Volume 9, number 1, 2014.

c. Periodicals, websites, etc.


9. Course Matrix for Achievement of Intended Learning Outcomes



Knowledge & Understanding

Intellectual Skills

Professional Skills

General & Transferable Skills

Genres of Museums






Sociology and Social Aspects of Museums






Museums and Community






Insights versus Entertainment






Living in a Learning Society






Interactivity- Thinking Beyond






Role of Museum in different societies.

Traditional role of museums in the society (collecting, preserving, storing).






Museums as partners for research and health care






Society inclusion of ethnic, religious and social minorities






Presentations of the students






Society inclusion: Internships and volunteers






Community engagement strategies






Final report and case study results






Visitors’ studies principles and usage






Final Exam