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Application Deadline: Ethical Interpretation Workshop

January 21

Workshop Dates
Virtual Sessions: February 28-March 4, 2022
In-person Experience: March 16-19, 2022

Program Overview
The Museum’s Office of Strategic Partnerships is pleased to announce the relaunch of its signature Ethical Interpretation Workshop. Continuing into its sixth year, the Ethical Interpretation Workshop provides technical training for museum professionals on interpretive theory and ethical practice. The program addresses histories of oppressed people whose experiences have been historically ignored and misrepresented and does so by recognizing their individuality, achievements, and challenges. Ethical Interpretation centers the critical importance of collaboration with the communities whose histories are being interpreted, and connects past, present, and future conditions for learners. Participants are equipped with tools and techniques to develop culturally responsive interpretation, and how to prepare themselves to engage in challenging discussions in a safe and sustainable way. Appropriate use of language and cultural frameworks, awareness of identity and self, and addressing audience responses are just some of the topics covered throughout the course.

About the Workshop
Over the last year, the Ethical Interpretation Workshop has undergone a yearlong evaluation and redesign process to transition from a place-based training into a hybrid model that will now be offered partially online. Over the course of the workshop, participants will engage in 30 hours of virtual learning sessions, peer-to-peer coaching, and community-building activities delivered through the Smithsonian edX and Zoom platforms. In addition to the virtual learning environment, participants will also engage in approximately 18 hours of site visits to analyze the interpretation of African American history and culture utilized at a variety of cultural and historical sites in Washington, DC and Old Town Alexandria, including Gadsby’s Tavern, Woodlawn Plantation, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, among others.

Interested participants should be advised that the workshop is an immersive experience with prerequisite reading assignments, to be completed in advance of the workshop as well as study hours and homework, to be completed in the evening hours. A critical element of the Ethical Interpretation Workshop is building a community of practice and be able to see and interact with one another. Participants will therefore be asked to join virtual sessions by video conference. Participants will also be required to complete a capstone project that fully integrates interpretive theory and ethical practice into a new program or product designed for their individual sites. Project deliverables include a project outline and ten-minute presentation that participants will present on the final day of the in-person experience.

Eligibility Criteria
The workshop is geared towards museum professionals who are engaged in historical and cultural interpretation or a closely related field, and committed to advancing the work and principles of ethical interpretation at their institutions and within the field at large.

  • Eligibility requirements for participation are open to all museum professionals engaged in the field of interpretation or a related field, with at least 2 years of professional museum experience.
  • Participants will need to have access to a device with Zoom capabilities and a reliable internet connection. We recommend that participants use a computer equipped with a microphone and webcam for full participation during virtual learning sessions.
  • SI requires that all workshop participants (staff, presenters, and cohort members) must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 with an FDA authorized (or, for international participants, a WHO-recommended) COVID-19 vaccine, or have an approved reasonable accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements. Mandatory face coverings (even for those who are fully vaccinated) are required indoors, and social distancing will be maintained.
  • Students strictly enrolled in full-time academic programs, without any affiliated and/or current museum work are not eligible. NMAAHC employees, interns, and current contractors are also not eligible to apply.

The workshop will be held over the course of a three-week period, beginning with the Virtual Welcome and Meet & Greet on Sunday, February 27, 2022 and culminating with the final day of the In-person Experience on Saturday, March 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Tuition to attend the workshop is $1,500 per person and includes the workshop itself (virtual sessions and the in-person experience); workshop texts and course materials; admission and transportation to all offsite excursions in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia; breakfast and lunch while in the DC area, as well as a group dinner on the first night.

Scholarship Opportunities
Thanks to the generosity of program sponsors—National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Association of African American Museums (AAAM), and Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC), there are a number of scholarships available that cover both tuition and hotel accommodations. See eligibility requirements below under each opportunity.

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC): Need-based scholarship open to all applicants regardless of membership affiliation. Scholarship includes tuition assistance, hotel accommodations, and invitational travel to/from Washington, DC. Smithsonian Institution employees are not eligible.
  • Association of African American Museums (AAAM): Scholarship open exclusively to AAAM individual and institutional members. Must have an active membership to apply. Scholarship includes tuition assistance, hotel accommodations, and invitational travel to/from Washington, DC. AAAM board officers, committee members, and members of their families are not eligible.
  • Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC): Scholarship open exclusively to SEMC individual and institutional members. Must have an active membership to apply. Scholarship includes tuition assistance, hotel accommodations, and invitational travel to/from Washington, DC. SEMC board officers, committee members, and members of their families are not eligible.

How to Apply
The application process for the Class of 2022 is now open. Please note that all application materials (and scholarship request, if applicable) must be combined into one PDF File and uploaded through the online application portal below.
Completed applications must be received by 11:59 PM on Friday, January 21, 2022.

Required Materials:

  • Online application form
  • Applicant resume or CV (3-page maximum)
  • Letter of recommendation from immediate supervisor/director
  • Statement of interest: Please share your interest in attending the interpretation workshop and how you and your institution will benefit from your attendance at the workshop (i.e. any special project(s) and/or workplace challenges you are hoping to address. 500-word maximum)
  • Personal vision statement: Please share how you will apply newly acquired interpretation tools/skills at your institution and/or personal interpretation. (500-word maximum)
  • Scholarship request (500 word maximum) *OPTIONAL


January 21