In June 2008, the Getty Conservation Institute presented its fourth Directors' Retreat for Conservation Education, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and organized in partnership with UNESCO's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Southeast Asia Ministries of Education Organization for the Protection of Archaeology and Fine Arts (both based in Bangkok). The retreat focused on built heritage conservation and education in Asia and the Pacific and addressed discrepancies between the training received in academic programs and actual needs of the field. In attendance were eighteen participants from the Asia Pacific region, many of whom are directors of conservation programs that focus on built heritage.
The objectives of the four-day retreat were to identify areas for academic program development through enhanced curricula and innovative pedagogical methods, to review existing conservation programs and their specializations, and to make these programs better known to the existing network of regional colleagues.
The retreat's format included presentations by practitioners and assessments of the needs of the field. These were followed by focused discussions among the participants to identify core competencies for built heritage conservation professionals in the Asia Pacific region.
During the retreat, participants visited several sites, including Wat Phra Thad Lampang Luang, Wat Pongsanuk, Wat Ked, and the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre. The objective of these visits was to observe firsthand the way sites in northern Thailand are conserved and to provide a basis for discussion on how to best utilize historic sites for conservation education and training.
Finally, participants discussed how the perceived gaps between the needs of the field and the core competencies identified during the retreat could be better addressed in their conservation education curricula. Participants welcomed the opportunity to share ideas about conservation education, and the GCI learned how it could collaborate with educators in the region. One discussion concerned the development of new pedagogical approaches through the use of fieldwork and didactic materials that relate specifically to the Asia region. All participants of the Directors' Retreat were in agreement that the GCI could play a key role in creating teaching materials—particularly case studies to be shared with regional academic programs. Although specific partnerships are yet to be developed, the retreat provided a foundation upon which future collaborative work can be based.
The Directors' Retreats are designed as a forum for senior-level educators and practitioners to convene in a quiet setting to discuss key issues in the development of conservation and education. They also provide an opportunity for colleagues throughout a region to reconnect and to establish new contacts that may lead to future collaborations. For more information on the Directors' Retreats, visit the Getty Web site.