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Folk Studies Study Away 2015: Public Folklore Policy and Practice in Washington D.C.

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 WKU Folk Studies Graduates, Clockwise from back left: Sydney Varajon, Eleanor Hasken, Joshua Chrysler, Anton Banchy, Jess Lamar Reece Holler, Alena Cieszko, Kaitlyn Berle, and Virginia Siegel. Not pictured: Anthony Stellaccio; program leader Professor Brent Bjorkman (Director, Kentucky Folklife Program; and Director, Kentucky Museum.)

Folk Studies 585: Public Folklore Policy and Practice in Washington, D.C.

In January 2015, WKU's Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology launched its first-ever winter term Study Away course. Lead by Professor Brent Bjorkman, Director of the Kentucky Museum and the Kentucky Folklife Program here on WKU's campus, nine Western Kentucky University Folk Studies graduate students descended upon Washington D.C. to learn about public folklore, historic preservation and cultural heritage policy from key players and decision-makers at the federal level. Specific cultural heritage institutions visited on the 2014 trip include the National Park Service, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage of the Smithsonian, Smithsonian Folkways Records/the Ralph Rinzler Archives, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and for the Humanities (NEH).

Throughout the course of the week, and in the weeks after, students each carried out original investigative research projects in key aspects of contemporary public folklore, historic preservation and cultural heritage policy matters. The group's findings were presented to the Folk Studies community in early February. Topics included folklore and education integration, archives and copyright/patent issues, the idea of "national" (vs.) localized/regionalized cultures, comparisons of U.S. and international intangible cultural heritage policy, and more!

While it's impossible to summarize the fullness of our experiences in a webpage, we hope the photos below -- by our own in-house photographer, Folk Studies graduate student Eleanor Hasken, who attended the trip -- will help give a sense of the magic!

 

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WKU Folk Studies graduate students attend a National Press Club luncheon with William "Bro" Adams,
incoming chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

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 WKU Folk Studies grads Joshua Chrysler and Kaitlyn Berle, looking at archived WKU Folk Studies program brochures at the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress.

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 Last Modified 6/11/15