Learning from multicultural Amman: engaging Jordan’s youth

Project summary

The objectives of this project are to engage Jordan’s youth in learning about their rich and diverse cultural heritage, and to reinvigorate Jordanian museum education, for the benefit of local communities and Jordanian cultural identity.

Project details

Location: Amman, Jordan

Years: 2019-2022

Project directors: Prof. Robin Skeates (Durham University, UK), Dr Shatha Abu Khafajah (The Hashemite University, Jordan)

Lead institutions and funding:

  • Durham University, UK
  • Department of Antiquities, Jordan
  • The Jordan Museum
  • Sela for Vocational Training and Protection of Cultural Heritage, Jordan
  • Council for British Research in the Levant (affiliated project)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Newton-Khalidi Fund

Project description

Our challenge is to engage Jordan’s youth in learning about their rich and diverse cultural heritage, and to reinvigorate Jordanian museum education, for the benefit of local communities and Jordanian cultural identity. Previous research has identified but not tackled this problem.

Placing Jordanian interests foremost, our five objectives have been: (1) to identify existing good practice for engaging young people in learning about the past through partnerships between museums, schools, and universities; (2) to deliver a training programme on museum education for professionals and academics; (3) to develop and evaluate a set of educational events, led by trained museum staff in collaboration with schools and universities, to engage young learners; (4) to create and disseminate guidelines on museum education; then (5) use these to advocate to policy-makers the educational benefits of museums.

Our innovative research, combining experts from UK and Jordanian universities, is using rigorous social science research methods, rarely used in museum studies in the Middle East. Through literature review, we have produced a Jordan-oriented annotated bibliography of museum education. We have also undertaken interviews and a focus-group with Jordanian museum professionals and schoolteachers; evaluations of a training programme held in Jordan and in the UK; and experimental educational events held at the Jordan Museum and at the Jordan Archaeological Museum combining museum staff, schoolchildren, and university students.

We have consequently begun to answer our three research questions:

(1) What is good practice in using Jordanian museums to engage young people in learning about their pasts?

(2) What constitutes successful partnerships between museums, schools, and universities?

(3) How can this good practice be adopted, adapted, and sustained in Jordan?

These questions and answers have culminated in our bilingual (Arabic and English) document, Engaging Young People in Museum Learning: Recommendations and Good Practice Guidelines for Anyone Working with Museums, Schools and Universities in Jordan. [This document will shortly be uploaded.]


Project bibliography

Skeates, Robin, Abu-Khafajah, Shatha, and Badran, Arwa. 2020. Reinvigorating museum education in Jordan. Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant, 2020: pp. 47-49.

See: Engaging Young People in Museum Learning (2022)