Administration, Faculty, and Infrastructure

GPAS Table of Contents

Archival Education: Mission and Goals
Administration, Faculty and Infrastructure
Conclusion and Footnotes

A. Faculty

Graduate programs in archival studies must have a faculty capable of accomplishing program objectives. Faculty should have a deep understanding of the profession and archival work, strong ties to both the academic and professional communities, technological knowledge and skills, and a record of research and publishing within the field. They should be effective teachers and active participants in professional organizations. To meet these guidelines, a program must have a minimum of one full-time, tenure-track faculty member. Full-time faculty members must be eligible for appointment to the graduate faculty within the parent institution (in virtually all cases this equates, at minimum, to holding a doctoral degree) and must demonstrate expertise by contributions to archival knowledge through publications and professional service. The faculty must be sufficient in number and in diversity of specialties to carry out the major share of the teaching, research, and service activities required for the program and to deliver the core knowledge of archival studies to give stability to the program. In many instances, additional full- or part-time faculty will be required to fulfill program objectives. Part-time or adjunct faculty, when appointed, should balance and complement the teaching competencies of the full-time faculty. Programs are enhanced when adjunct or part-time faculty have extensive practical experience, demonstrated expertise through contributions to professional knowledge through publication and professional service, and excellent teaching credentials.  In the interests of diversifying the historical record and the profession, it is incumbent upon graduate programs to diversify their faculties and student bodies.  Diversity in faculty, students, professionals, viewpoints, and experience is increasingly important to maintaining the relevance of archives.

B. Program Duration

The appropriate duration of a graduate program in archival studies should be consistent with that of all graduate programs in the hosting school or university in which it is situated. To cover the curriculum components outlined above adequately, however, a master's-level archival program should have a minimum of eighteen (18) semester hours or equivalent devoted exclusively to core archival knowledge, including practical experience. Remaining credits can be in areas of complementary knowledge or electives.

C. Structure of the Learning Process

Graduate education in archival studies requires several modes of instruction and learning. Coursework provides the best method of presenting archival theory, principles, and methodology, as well as many areas of interdisciplinary knowledge. Practical experience is necessary to apply theory to workplace settings and to provide experiential learning. Scholarly research enables students to explore dimensions of the field in greater depth and to contribute original research to the professional discourse.

1. Coursework

Coursework is the basic venue for graduate-level archival education, and course format (e.g., lecture, seminar, web-based, distance education) will vary.  Coursework should also include opportunities for building an open, inclusive, and collaborative environment with fellow students and colleagues through group and/or outreach projects.

2. Practical Experience

Experiential learning in the workplace will enhance knowledge acquired in coursework. In the context of master's-level archival education, practical experience is not an exercise to discover theory and methods empirically; rather, it allows students to verify their understanding of archival principles by applying them in real-life situations and to understand how to make adjustments so that archival principles fit archival practice. Practical experience also provides students with structured feedback on their applied archival skills and with mentoring by records professionals working in the field.

Any form of experiential learning must primarily serve the student's educational goals, even if a host institution or organization ultimately benefits from the work accomplished by the student. Any practical experience with a host institution or organization should be a structured program related to the student's program of study. Faculty in collaboration with the designated host's internship supervisor should design the program and include provisions for regular feedback and evaluation.

3. Scholarly Research

Scholarly research is an essential component of the archival studies curriculum because it enhances students' ability to think critically and rigorously about archival issues and strengthens their competence to analyze, critically review, and engage with the literature. Research also has the potential to provide original contributions to the archival literature and thus helps to invigorate the profession. Archival research can take many forms and borrow methodologies from a variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences. Although much archival research has been the result of an individual effort, education programs should introduce students to collaborative, creative research and encourage it within and outside their own discipline.

D. Resources and Facilities

Instructional and research resources and facilities for meeting the needs of students and faculty include access to core archival literature, library and multimedia resources and services, computers and information technologies, and accommodations for independent and group study. Facilities should be appropriately staffed, convenient, and fully accessible to users of varying needs. Students should develop skills in using digitized primary resources and digital repositories, and should have regular and frequent access to physical archives and manuscript repositories. Repository access can take the form of class visits, research assignments in the repositories, and opportunities for internships and other types of practical experience. It is particularly important for a program to have strong relationships with area repositories.

E. Administration, Placement, and Financial Support

The graduate program in archival studies must identify a program director or administrator who is responsible for making certain that the program achieves its mission, goals, and objectives. The program director must be one of the full-time tenure-track members of the faculty or staff of the home department. Depending on the scope and placement of the program, he or she may have the title of director, chairperson, or dean.

Programs must provide career counseling and vigorous placement support for students. Career counseling is essential because students will encounter a variety of potential employment venues as well as numerous institutional and functional specializations. Vigorous placement support also is essential for students as they enter the job market because of the variety of ways in which employment opportunities are advertised or announced.  Programs should also emphasize the importance of professional recommendations in the successful job search.

The parent institution must provide the program with continuing financial support that is sufficient to develop and maintain it. The level of support must provide a reasonable expectation of financial viability and must consider the number of faculty, administrative and support staff, instructional resources, library and information services, and facilities needed to carry out the archival education program's mission, goals, and objectives. 

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