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The community service of the Ghent University Zoology Museum

Author(s): Dominick Verschelde

Journal: University Museums and Collections Journal
ISSN 2071-7229

Volume: 2;
Start page: 77;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: community | university museums | science communication | scientific method

The Ghent University Zoology Museum is not only providing guided exhibitions, but is more and more organizing fun workshops and practical exercises for all members of the community: families, toddlers (kindergarten), students of the primary, secondary, and high schools as well as adults. Our approach is an informal teaching of formal learning; we offer ‘tantalizing teasers to taste Science’. We teach the public to use their senses to observe, and their mental sensibilities to create critical ideas; all this in a fun and passionate way instead of the commonly believed ‘boring scientific way’. We allow high school trainees and apprentices of unemployment offices and the Department of Social Service to work and train in our museum, thus getting a taste of the immense workload surrounding a university collection. But this is not a fairy tale, as it is not without some bitter side effects. Universities and university museums not only have a duty towards a small part of the community, in carrying out research and training students, but need to focus on the entire population in order to get the critical scientific way of thinking into the society as well as improving transparency of an academic environment for laymen. Taking this into consideration, UMAC does not only stand for ‘University Museums and Collections’, but even more so for ‘University Museums and Communities’.
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