Curatorship Program Practicum & Capstone Experiences
Selecting Your Practicum or Capstone Experience
You may complete your practicum (6 credits, total) and capstone (3 credits, normally earned in your final term) in any of IU Bloomington’s 50-plus collections. (On approval of the Curatorship director, you may also choose to earn these credits through work in a non-campus collection.)
Each semester, Curatorship will provide you with practicum opportunities available for the upcoming term in IUB campus collections. Some are paid; most are not. Most of these positions are competitive—more students will apply than can be accepted. It is up to you to follow whatever application requirements and deadlines that particular workplace has established for selecting its interns. You may wish to target more than one possibility, in the event that you don’t receive your first choice. You may also seek out opportunities—or collections—not on our current list.
As a rule, look for positions that 1) give you experience in a collection or subject area that interests you and 2) provide a particular kind of work experience (eg research, cataloguing, conservation, etc.) that you will find useful in your professional life. You may work more than one semester in a particular position (or you may return to a different position within the same collection), or you may choose to vary your workplace from one term to the next.
For more specific information about your capstone experience, see below.
Working with Your Professional and Academic Supervisors
Two people oversee and assess your Curatorship practicums and capstone: a workplace supervisor and a faculty advisor. Your supervisor works with you to ensure that you gain useful professional training while serving the needs of a collection. Your faculty advisor determines what—if any—additional educational components (such as outside readings or a written assignment) are required to translate your work to academic credit. When your workplace supervisor has an IU academic title, your workplace supervisor may also be your faculty advisor.
Before the semester starts and while registering for the next term, work with your supervisor and faculty advisor to answer the questions listed on the Curatorship Program practicum and/or capstone enrollment forms. These forms detail everyone’s expectations for the semester and reflects your mutual understanding of the terms of your work arrangement. The form also specifies how often you will meet with each of your mentors during the course of the semester. (Note that if your advisor’s academic department, such as Folklore, uses a different form to document internship/practicum/fieldwork experiences, you will need to complete that form instead and submit it to the Curatorship Program.)
At the end of the term, your advisor will determine your grade based on feedback received from you and your workplace supervisor.
Once you have selected (and been selected for) an opportunity in a collection, museum, gallery, etc., and after identifying your faculty advisor, your next step is to enroll in an appropriate course. Generally speaking, each academic department maintains a course number for graduate practicum or independent research classes (e.g. HIST- H 575, ANTH-A, 595, FOLK-F, 800). Your faculty advisor will help you determine the appropriate course number. If your experience does not obviously fit into a particular academic department, you may enroll in the Curatorship Program's practicum (GRAD-U 595) and/or capstone (GRAD-U 600) courses.
Your Work Experience
Every practicum is unique, and each reflects the combination of your interests and the particular needs of a collection. However, two general qualities unite them:
Hands-On Experience: Your practicum will bring you into direct contact with a collection—its objects, catalogue, programs, staff, and patrons. Working an average of 9-10 hours weekly, or 135 hours across the length of a term (for a 3-unit practicum), you will gain experience in some aspect of the activities that together comprise curation—collection, cataloguing and registration, research, interpretation, conservation, display, and so on.
Professional and Intellectual Mentorship: An experienced professional—a curator, archivist, exhibition designer, educator, or other collections specialist—will train you and oversee your work in the skills necessary to succeed in your practicum. Additionally, your designated faculty advisor will meet with you no less than twice during the semester and may assign additional reading or writing activities to help you relate your professional and scholarly work to one another.
Your capstone experience is a practicum with a unique outcome: an original project based on original work carried out in your selected collection. This project, the equivalent of an article-length research project, may take conventional written form, or it may instead be realized as an exhibition, public program series, collection initiative, online finding aid, or other substantial work. You will determine your capstone project in advance through discussion with your selected workplace supervisor and faculty advisor. Once completed, the capstone is presented publicly before faculty and Curatorship Program students.
Student Rights & Responsibilities
In addition to the IU Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, the Curatorship Program extends the following rights and responsibilities to its students.
As a Curatorship Program student, you have the right to:
- Engage in challenging and meaningful work experiences;
- Be treated with respect and dignity;
- Ask questions;
- Present your point of view;
- Receive active feedback and training in a timely manner.
As a Curatorship Program student, you have the responsibility to:
- Act professionally whenever working in or representing a collection;
- Communicate changes or concerns appropriately;
- Accept criticism;
- Participate in trainings required for the work;
- Inform your supervisor of other commitments or issues that might affect your ability to carry out your assigned responsibilities;
- Present your work to your peers and faculty chair at the end of the term of enrollment.
Curatorship Program Enrollment Forms
Please submit the appropriate Curatorship Program enrollment form at least two weeks before registering for class.