Photo of NY Historical Society by April Moore and Remixed by Lisa Sheridan
Classes will start in the fall semester for the new Museum Studies MA. CUNY SPS students will have the chance to embark on a rewarding career in a growth area with this master’s program. Job growth in museums has enjoyed an increase of 13%, which exceeds the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet, while 38% of Americans identify as Asian, black, Hispanic or multiracial, people of color hold only 16% of museum leadership positions. The NY Times reported that the museum world is addressing the lack of diversity within museum management with a sense of urgency. The new CUNY SPS Museum Studies MA will educate and train a diverse group of museum specialists, who can start to change that imbalance.
As previously reported in The Kiosk, the Museum Studies MA was a fast-tracked program. The NY State Education Department approved the new master’s program on April 12, 2019. According to Senior Associate Dean Otte, the regular procedure for starting a new academic program starts with a concept paper review by the Curriculum Committee. After the committee’s amendments, a revised version goes for a vote by the SPS Governing Council. Then the proposal goes to the Committee on Academic Program Policy and Review (CAPRA), a committee within the CUNY Board of Trustees. After the CAPRA review, the plan goes to the full CUNY Board of Trustees. Lastly, the proposal is sent to the New York State Education Department. Dr. Otte told The Kiosk that NYSED review of proposals can take months. So in this case, the turnaround time was surprising.
The new MA program is a collaboration between SPS and The New York Historical Society. The Kiosk caught up with Dr. Valerie Paley, from the NY Historical Society, for some insights. Dr. Paley said that CUNY SPS was a good partner because of its diversity and its strong Disability Studies programs. Accessibility is a critical issue for museums, as Dr. Paley advised. Dr. Paley also stressed the importance of the practicum. The practicum will be 15 hours of hands-on work-study in a museum. The practicum will give students the work experience necessary to help them land a job after graduation.
According to the American Alliance of Museums, studies show that museums are considered the most trustworthy source of information in America. Museums rated higher than local papers, nonprofit researchers, the U.S. government, or academic researchers. Museums chronical and preserve history and culture. As Dr. Otte added, “In a world of ephemera, the greatest mistakes are to oversimplify or forget.” The Museum Studies MA will provide new voices and perspectives to ensure all stories are remembered.