Session: Generous Thinking in the Museum: Rebuilding Community Trust in Higher Education

In her 2019 book, Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University, Kathleen Fitzpatrick lays out an argument and strategies for advocating for public humanities scholarship in a moment when those fields are under threat. Her book is a public-spirited reframing of the university’s “critical thinking” to be more oriented toward practices of collaboration, listening, rebuilding institutions that have lost public goodwill. Many of us who work in academic museums may recognize those strategies because we are oriented toward public, civic-minded work–and we consistently have to demonstrate our interdisciplinary values for the institution. What do museum workers have to add to Fitzpatrick’s recommendations for these radical approaches to saving the university? How does the academic museum serve as a site for generosity, collaboration, public- and civic-oriented scholarship–and how might it act even more radically to do other kinds of transformative generous work beyond what we already promote? Fleming Museum of Art at University of Vermont, Michigan State University Museum and MSU Broad, Eastern Connecticut State University. 

Alice Boone, Curator of Education and Public Programs, Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont

Marsha MacDowell, Curator of Folk Arts, Broad Museum of Art, Michigan State University

Yulia Tikhonova, Art Gallery director and Museum Coordinator, Eastern Connecticut State University

Michelle Word, Director of Education, Broad Museum of Art, Michigan State University