Rowntree Society - Public History MA Placement

Posted on 10 June 2014

Scoping the feasibility of 'Mapping British Philanthropy' project

Admittedly, I was slightly nervous starting the placement at The Rowntree Society, as I was not sure what to expect and assumed I would be at a small disadvantage, not being a student of the Public History course. However, despite these original concerns, this was a placement I thoroughly enjoyed and one which established a greater understanding of various issues and concepts within public history.


The brief, identified at the beginning of the placement, was to undertake research to assess the feasibility of a project idea in its early stage of development titled, Mapping of British Philanthropy. The project’s initial aims sought to engage local communities across Britain with their past through the subject of historical philanthropy. This in turn, may stimulate questions around how these historic philanthropists help to deepen their awareness of their past and might have contributed to shaping their identity.

This placement gave me the opportunity to engage with members of the public to consider feedback of various elements of the project. This included public preference of the type of online platform they would like the project to adopt as well as to measure how the public understood the concept of philanthropy. I hope I have given the placement provider a better understanding of areas which need to be considered before the project reached the implementation stage and demonstrated the importance of how such heritage-related projects can stimulate important questions surrounding individual and collective identities.

This project has provided me with invaluable experience and has strengthened key communication and research skills. Ultimately, my advice would be to not avoid the experience of a Public History placement, simply because you are not familiar with the specifics of the subject area. The ability to combine both the practical and academic elements makes the prospect to develop existing and new skills, as well as an appreciation of the public history sector an excellent opportunity.

Wasim Feroze

MA in Contemporary History
Public History MA Placement