What is the Practicum?
Each winter, eligible* third- and fourth-year students devote one day / week (or its equivalent) working in the city as a historian. Some work for one of the many museums, often conducting research on collections in preparation for future exhibits. Others do research on specific topics for various non-profit organizations, usually at Library and Archives Canada or the City of Ottawa Archives. Finally, a third group of students find themselves doing a number of different things in which they get to apply the historian’s skills of conducting research, analysis of data, and the communication of results. In the past few years, students have worked for, among others, Canada War Museum, Library and Archives Canada, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Bytown Museum, Archives and Research Collections here at Carleton, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Skate Canada, the National Capital Commission, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, The Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa, Partnership Africa Canada, and the City of Ottawa (Heritage Conservation Division).
More details on the practicum can be found in the course description for HIST 3807: Practicum in History.
Student Success Stories
A third year undergraduate RA in the Department of History at Carleton, Eleanor Barney worked with Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) to provide the Communications Director, Zuzia Danielski, a report of PAC’s history for use as part of their 30th anniversary plans. Zuzia wrote a blog on the impact of Eleanor’s work: Partnership Africa Canada reaches into 30-years of archives with Carleton and CNHH and PAC produced a leaflet using the material Eleanor gathered:http://www.pacweb.org/images/Annual_Review/pac-annual-report-en-web.pdf
“During my History Practicum, I was placed with Partnership Africa Canada, an Ottawa-based NGO that has recently rebranded to become IMPACT. I had thought I would be placed in a museum or an archival setting, so it was definitely not what I had expected when signing up for the practicum. However, it ended up being an extremely rewarding and educational experience! I was tasked with researching Partnership Africa Canada’s history, as they were approaching their 30th anniversary and had little in the way of an up-to-date compiled history. My supervisors were Carleton’s Professor Dominique Marshall, who taught me how to apply the research tools and methods I had learned about in class, and Zuzia Danielski, the organization’s Communications Director, who worked with me to best present the research findings for both internal and promotional purposes. With the help of both of my supervisors, I found and worked through annual reports and internal documents, news articles, and even a few books to find out as much as I could about all that this organization has accomplished in those 30 years. I made notes and condensed the information into reports and a timeline, with details about important events and milestones. I got to learn about so much of Partnership Africa Canada/IMPACT’s fantastic work and the history of humanitarian aid as a whole, while also finding out about how my education in history could be used in a practical and useful way. I believe that the History Practicum may have been one of the most valuable courses I took during my education at Carleton, both in the short term and the long term, and I am still so glad I took it.”
For Luka Dursun, the fact that the course provides him with an academic credit at the third-year level is second to the experience he gains while at his practicum. Assigned a box of letters, diaries, photographs and official records, Luka was tasked with piecing together the biography of a soldier who served in the Second World War. “At the War Museum, I actually get to have my hands on real history,” he said when asked about his personal experience at the practicum.
Learn more about Luka’s practicum experience.
Nicholas Hepner found that the practicum provide him the chance to improve his research abilities:
“Not only was the Practicum in History an overall good experience, but it was an engaging way to further sharpen my research skills outside of a classroom setting. That kind of experience was especially refreshing.”
Learn more about Nicholas’ practicum experience.
Andrew Narraway says that the practicum provided him with an opportunity to get practical hands-on experience and gave him his very first taste of archival work:
“I learned the basic skills at Carleton for this kind of work and the practicum gave me the opportunity to put what I have learned to use. As an undergraduate you do not realize how much you are really learning over the course of the degree until you are placed in a situation where you have to use those skills, the placement was that situation for me.”
Learn more about Andrew’s practicum experience.