The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) seeks to foster a sense of community among its members, who gather once a year to pose intriguing questions, explore diverse opinions, debate controversial issues, challenge assumptions and share their successes and their struggles—in essence, to learn from one another.
Join us in 2017 in Columbus, Ohio!
Check out the Schedule at a Glance for the conference program outline.
New Pathways in Visitor Studies
In visitor studies, we are challenged to respond to a rapidly changing world in order to maintain a current understanding of our visitors and their needs, as well as the field of visitor studies itself. We pursue new pathways in part because of changes within the communities we serve, as demographic shifts and technological advances (among others) require us to think differently about the work we do. We also look for innovative approaches to fostering change within our field, such as becoming more inclusive of other voices or finding ways to leverage our collective impact. New insights and innovations from outside our field can also offer novel ways of looking at learning and learners to support mission-driven institutions like museums, zoos and aquaria. To gain fresh perspectives on our work, we invite conference attendees to look both within and beyond our field for new ways to think about learning, as well as promising approaches to solving current problems. “New Pathways in Visitor Studies” seeks to advance the field by challenging conference speakers and attendees to work creatively and collaboratively to deliver reliable new insights about the experiences of our visitors. Participants are strongly encouraged to create session proposals that invite and include people from outside the visitor studies field to stimulate conversation and discussion.
Some questions this conference theme will allow speakers and attendees to address include:
- How are new methods or innovations from other fields of study positioned to help informal learning institutions understand their visitors and adapt to provide greater community value?
- In what new ways can and should the field of visitor studies act as an advocate for those audiences who have traditionally been excluded from informal learning spaces?
- How are changes in society, culture, and human interaction (such as demographic shifts or the emergence of new means of social interaction) impacting the field of informal learning – and how can the field of visitor studies creatively adapt to these changes?
- How can we lead change from within our institutions, challenging the status quo in terms of decision making, strategic directions, or institutional vision?
- What opportunities exist in using shared data sets or “big data” to expand and/or refine our practice?
- How can we think big and pivot our attention to use research and evaluation methodologies to address issues in our communities, nations, and world?