I remember that when I was younger, my dad seemed to give a lot of presentations on the idea of “Shared Expectations.” At the time, I thought that Dear Old Dad was just throwing around some geeky business term; but after working in groups at school, work, and volunteer situations, I have realized that shared expectations help people with a variety of perspectives share and buy into a common set of objectives. For Dad, managers, employees, and customers needed to agree what the outcome of a particular project would be; likewise, we read this week about how a curator contracting out the installation of an exhibit should continually work to ensure that both museum employees and contracted workers are on the same page.
Since there is a possibility that public historians will be the curator’s position at some point in their career, it might be useful for students in this field to seek out experiences in creating shared expectations. In the Public History program, we have been working under a number of shared expectations; these are the ones that come to mind, but perhaps they need to be fleshed out more:
1) We will develop a quality museum exhibit and accompanying virtual exhibit, and in the process of doing so, learn about the steps necessary to creating an innovative and successful exhibit
2) We will learn about the history, theory, and practice of Public History through readings, discussion, and research in Public History, Archives, Digital History, and Museology
3) We will work in a collaborative environment
4) We will be free to focus our research and blogging on topics that interest us, within the limits laid out by the program and courses
5) We will come away with a good sense of many of the challenges and benefits of working the Public History field