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Vermont Folklife Center Announces Cultural Sustainability Institute

Anthropology News staff was working on the sustainability issue (coming in April) when we received the following press release from the Vermont Folklife Center (VFC) about their new Cultural Sustainability Institute. Rory Turner, Academic Director of Goucher College’s Master of the Arts in the Cultural Sustainability Program, expressed strong support for this new program. “We are thrilled to see the VFC launch this exciting initiative,” he said. “Teaching the methods of engaged research and partnership strengthens the capacity of communities to make choices about culture in positive ways, and the folks at VFC do it right.” 

The Vermont Folklife Center is excited to announce our new educational initiative, the Cultural Sustainability Institute. We are launching the Cultural Sustainability Institute this spring with a workshop series that explores the concept of cultural sustainability, and provides participants practical training in ethnography and oral history, the use of audio, video and photography documentation in cultural sustainability projects, and the creation of community cultural inventories.  These workshops are open to the general public, students, educators, scholars, staff of non-profit organizations, policy makers, and others interested in better understanding their communities and the larger world around us. The first workshop, “An Introduction to Cultural Sustainability,” will be held on Friday April 8, 2011 from 10:00am-3:00pm. The workshop series runs through November 2011.

In recent years scholars such as folklorist Rory Turner of Goucher College and ethnomusicologist Jeff Titon of Brown University have begun to draw connections between concepts of sustainability and the intellectual perspectives and approaches of folklorists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists. Cultural sustainability merges ideas of sustainability that have arisen in environmental conservation and community and economic development with anthropological notions of culture. Cultural sustainability provides a framework though which people can explore those cultural practices that they and their communities most value, and to develop strategies to enrich and renew these practices into the future.

“While cultural sustainability is a relatively new concept, the ideas that underpin it have been central to the work of the Vermont Folklife Center for 27 years,” said Vermont Folklife Center Executive Director, Brent Björkman. “Since 1984 we have been working to promote the understanding of those things that make Vermont a distinct place—from town meeting and church suppers to deer hunting and farmers markets—the cultural practices that germinate and thrive here. Our work is grounded in the exploration of everyday life: the way people live today, and the way people use the past to inform actions in the present and make decisions about the future.”

For more information on the Cultural Sustainability Institute, including detailed descriptions of workshops, please visit online at: www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/education/cultural-sustainability.


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