Practicum experiences play an integral part of the public humanities MA degree. A summer-long and a semester-long practicum provide an opportunity for experiential learning and give students a chance to connect academic learning to the work of a public humanities organization. They also introduce students to experienced professionals who can offer mentorship and help students network with professionals in the field. During the summer practicum, students participate in an on-line blog, sharing experiences and questions with each other and Center faculty and staff; during the semester, practicum participants meet regularly in person with Center faculty and staff.
As part of the MA degree, students must complete two practicum assignments. One practicum must be completed during the summer following their first year of classes. The summer practicum is required but not credited. (In other words, students do not pay for the class associated with this practicum) The second practicum can be scheduled during any semester; most students fulfill this requirement during their second year.
The selection of practicum sites is limited only by students’ imagination, logistics, and funding. For their semester practicums, completed concurrently with classes, students generally arrange positions at organizations in Providence, Boston, or other sites in southern New England. In recent years, these have included: the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the City of Providence’s department of Art, Culture + Tourism; the MIT Museum; the New England Foundation for the Arts; the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; the RISD Museum; and the Roger Williams National Memorial. Summer practicum choices are not limited geographically and students have selected placements with organizations in New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and Hong Kong, as well as numerous historic sites, museums, libraries, and cultural organizations throughout the U.S.
Students consult with the Center staff for assistance in identifying a practicum site and working with potential supervisors to shape a work plan that will provide both an educational experience for the student and useful projects for the organization. The Center has limited funds to help defray living and travel expenses associated with practicums.
Organizations that want to learn more about practicum opportunities, including the Center’s expectations for institutions that sponsor students, should contact Ronald Potvin, the Center's Assistant Director for Professional Programs.