Community Building in Digital Environments: how museums can create meaningful spaces with students
Tuesday, April 4th: 11:15am - 12:15pm
Silvina Fernandez-DuqueFuture Projects Manager @ US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Professional Forum Abstract
Since 1994, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has offered a program for area high school students that introduces them to the history of the Holocaust and encourages them to share its lessons with their family, friends, and community. Hundreds of students in DC, Maryland and Virginia, have participated in this program, Bringing the Lessons Home: Holocaust Education for the Community (BTLH), since its inception.
In 2020, the pivot to digital programming allowed the facilitators of BTLH to begin to conceive of how the program could be expanded nationwide. This session will share ideas on how museums can connect with students in digital environments in meaningful ways. The digital, national version of BTLH is currently in the prototyping phase, and we are still experimenting and learning from students. Among the conversations we have been having, and propose here to expand to the greater museum community, is how to build community and create safe spaces in the digital world. How do we take the community and trust that we know how to foster in in-person programming and imagine digital spaces that allow for safe and meaningful interactions?
BTLH was founded on the principle that the history and lessons of the Holocaust are relevant in today’s world. By encouraging young people to examine the implications of the Holocaust in their own lives, BTLH encourages critical thinking and promotes their ability to analyze current events that affect their community and the larger world. They also acquire a foundation for exploring the nature of indifference, racism, and genocide, as well as their roles as citizens of a democracy. The challenge in the creation of a digital program is how to take the exploration of the history and lessons of the Holocaust from the within the walls of the Museum—where facilitators can lean heavily on the comprehensive narrative of the Permanent Exhibition and access to classroom space—to a digital environment where facilitation and inte