Of the four areas addressed by the Challenge statement, Education encompasses the most far-reaching activities and is least easily addressed by federal legislation. There are currently major initiatives and innovations addressing educational issues. The recent report, A Heritage At Risk, issued by the National Council of Preservation Educators (NCPE) analyzes the critical need for educational programs in cultural heritage for children from kindergarten through high school. NCPE also works to coordinate and develop the college and graduate training in historic preservation and related fields. The National Trust has recently appointed a Heritage Education Coordinator to conduct a six month analysis of the Trust`s role in relation to historic preservation in grades K-12.
Nevertheless, congressional action has resulted in an effort to answer one aspect of education, identified in the Challenge statement as "the development and dissemination of information on preservation technologies."
In the fall of 1986, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) issued a report entitled Technologies for Prehistoric and Historic Preservation. Among the major recommendations of the report was the development of a National Center for Preservation Technology which would serve to facilitate the transfer of modern technology to the identification, documentation, preservation and interpretation of our cultural heritage.
CAPT was formed by a small group of preservationists in February 1987 specifically to follow up the OTA report. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in July, and had its first annual meeting in October 1987. From the outset, CAPT has consciously attempted to reach and ultimately represent the full spectrum of the diverse preservation movement. Further, CAPT has made a conscious effort to build a coalition which does not compete with the existing preservation organizations, but instead will complement and assist them in attaining the quality of preservation demanded by the needs of our diminishing heritage.
CAPT`s purpose is quite simple; to achieve the establishment of the National Center for Preservation Technology. To do that it will develop the organizational design of the Center with as much input from the preservation community as possible, and concurrently will build the broad-based constituency necessary to support the establishment of the Center. It will seek to accomplish this through organized public education and outreach programs, fully coordinated with existing efforts. If CAPT is successful, it will go out of business when the job is done.
As envisioned at this time, the Center would not be a single entity operating from a single location, but rather a network of local and regional units organized on a consortia or alliance principle. As such, CAPT is trying to avoid the establishment of a central bureaucracy in which scarce funds are depleted by the internal operation of the organization itself, rather than directed to the resources where the problems lie. Although there would be a central unit with a small staff, probably in Washington, D.C., we anticipate that the majority of the organization`s personnel would be located in the network of regional centers and their local affiliates.
The function of the Center, again as currently conceived, would be fourfold. First, through its regional network it would identify specific preservation needs for which technological solutions may exist. Second, it would search for, at both the national and international levels, technologies relevant to the problem. Third, through applied research, it would refine, modify and adapt the technologies to allow their transfer to the field of preservation. Finally, it would transfer the refined technology to preservation problems through direct application, as well as through education and training of professionals.
Key aspects of both the CAPT effort and its view of how the National Center will function lie in the commitment to education. The primary means CAPT must employ to build the constituency necessary to establish the National Center is through informing both the professional and lay communities of its goals. CAPT is currently planning an outreach program to achieve this. It will include the production of a video program on preservation needs and the role of modem technology in addressing the needs, as well as public service announcements and descriptive brochures. In addition, CAPT members will discuss the National Center concept with local and regional preservation groups. Finally, CAPT has made a conscious effort to include on its Board of Directors key members of as many existing national preservation organizations as possible, so they can communicate our goals and our progress to their organizations, and thus serve our coordinating function more effectively.
Once the National Center is established, education will be one of its major functions (research, technology transfer, and the clearinghouse function are others). In addition to the development of a computer network to assist the clearinghouse function, technical information will be disseminated through technical papers, monographs, newsletters and demonstrative videos. The intent is to support and strengthen current means of disseminating information wherever possible. Existing professional training programs in the form of accredited graduate and undergraduate curricula would be supported, and new programs developed at other institutions. Technical short courses, seminars, workshops, refresher courses, certification programs, and internships would be developed or expanded to complement existing programs. Finally, a key function of the Center would be to continue to support outreach programs, and organized volunteer efforts. In the entire spectrum of educational efforts, the idea is to support, supplement, and strengthen existing programs--not to supplant them.
CAPT envisions the National Center as a federally chartered organization and thus a major portion of its income would be derived from federal funds. Most importantly, however, we feel it essential that significant funding come from the private sector, for example from corporations whose products are used in the preservation process. It would most certainly benefit such corporations to aid in the development and refinement of technology useful to the preservation community.
CAPT is an organization with aspirations which focus solely on recognizing the deterioration of the heritage of this country, and the need to implement cost-effective measures to reduce that deterioration. We seek creative means of developing and implementing the National Center for Preservation Technology, and welcome the support of all preservationists in achieving this common goal.
Publication Date: Spring 1988