Why was the New Professionals Task Force formed?
The origins of this Task Force developed out of discussions at Europeana’s annual conference in Lisbon in 2019, where a session was dedicated to discussing ways to improve inclusivity and diversity in the Europeana Network Association (ENA). Conversations continued between ENA members, guided by the Impact Community Steering Group and Europeana Foundation staff, recognising the network could be more open, inclusive, and engaging to young, new and emerging members. From there, the New Professionals Task Force was born.
In the context of this Task Force, new professionals were considered to be any person, of any age, early in their careers, studying, working or intending to work in, with, and around cultural heritage. The Task Force wanted to look at the challenges and barriers facing new professionals, while also identifying opportunities to include and support them within the ENA. This, in turn, aimed to increase spaces for new voices in the ENA and its communities, to help support a more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable network.
Who took part in the New Professionals Task Force?
Nine cultural heritage professionals and students formed the Task Force, many of us new professionals in the cultural heritage sector ourselves. While some of us were involved in Europeana before the Task Force, some were also new to the Initiative, and it was great to listen and learn from these perspectives.
Carlota Marijuán Rodríguez, Task Force Member and member of the European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) says, ‘I am really grateful that ESACH was invited to be part of this journey. Participating in the Task Force was a great experience in itself, showing the value of networking across disciplines and countries. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic provided us with an opportunity to explore how these networks can be maintained even remotely!’
Laura-Ioana Luca, Task Force Member and former member of the International Council on Archives New Professionals Programme says, ‘The opportunity to share my experiences of being a new professional, and having those valued within this Task Force was incredibly rewarding. I’m so pleased to have been part of an initiative that has begun to create a kind, welcoming, and fruitful environment within Europeana for emerging professionals!’
We were also pleased to have a number of reviewers who contributed to and enriched the final report, and would like to extend our thanks to everyone who was involved!
How did the Task Force work?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we met regularly online to discuss, plan and action different aspects of our work. Researching existing initiatives, as well as relevant reports, articles and better practice in this area, was a key activity of the Task Force, but we also considered individual perspectives. We shared our own experiences, and reached out to both emerging and experienced professionals in the sector to find out more. At Europeana 2020, we ran a session to encourage reciprocal sharing of knowledge and expertise between these two groups, and to gain insights into how we can better support each other.
This session included a presentation from Laura Millar, Coordinator of the International Council on Archives New Professionals Programme, and her insight into this New Professional Programme provided much food for thought for the Task Force. Indeed, establishing connections with other individuals, initiatives and organisations supporting new professionals was one of our key activities, particularly as two Task Force members were ESACH members. Read their reflections on working with the Task Force.
The approach that we took was indebted to the guidance and resources of the Europeana Foundation and Impact Community Steering Group. We are particularly grateful to the Europeana Impact Playbook, and to Europeana Foundation Impact Adviser Nicole McNeilly, who guided us through it in an online workshop, where we created a Change Pathway to help us think about the constructive change we wanted our recommendations to have on the Network, the sector and society!
We also prioritised an intersectional approach, considering the multidimensionality of people’s experiences and identities, and taking into account the many different manifestations of discrimination that can create barriers for new and emerging professionals in the cultural heritage sector.
What recommendations did the New Professionals Task Force make?
All of the activities undertaken by the Task Force fed into our final report. We made several interlinked recommendations on how the ENA can do more to include, support and encourage new professionals within the network:
Cultivate ENA intergenerational exchange (for example, through mentoring, conference buddies and a dedicated New Professionals Programme).
Support inclusivity for new professionals within the ENA (for example, by offering dedicated ways to welcome them into the network and identifying funding opportunities to support them).
Create spaces for new professional visibility, autonomy and collaboration (for example, through dedicated editorials and events).
Foster an open and inclusive ENA, enabling new professionals to thrive (for example, by reviewing the Code of Conduct and offering dedicated training to support inclusivity and diversity action in the ENA).
Build sustainable, community-centered partnerships (with many of the groups the Task Force collaborated with).
Support proposal for the ENA Membership Working Group.
We were delighted to see that since the Task Force report was completed, this Membership Working Group has been established, and will be primarily responsible for delivering these recommendations. If you would like to join this Working Group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest and find out more.
We invite you to dive in to read and download the full report from the New Professionals Task Force page! And keep checking Europeana Pro, where we will share further updates about our work for new professionals.