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University of Idaho
United States
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Interpretation - Making a Difference on Purpose; new book by Sam H. Ham (2013)
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Summary of Services

In this book's ten chapters, Sam makes the point that interpretation isn't magic (meaning it's not a collection of tricks and gimmicks that defy logical explanation). On the contrary, he treats interpretation as strategy - the purposeful design and delivery of communication that stands a better chance of making a difference on purpose with the kinds of audiences most interpreters encounter.

Full Description of Services

Excerpt from the preface: When I wrote Environmental Interpretation 20 years ago, I had a specific purpose in mind. At the time, there simply were no other books written for people in the interpretation field that told them in much detail how to actually do practical things - like how to plan and present a talk, lead guided tours, design exhibits or produce audiovisual programs. And outside of Bill Lewis' (1980) Interpreting for Park Visitors, which introduced the concept of a "theme" to the interpretation profession, no sources existed that showed interpreters how to apply thematic reasoning to their work. Since I emphasized all these topics in my own classes at the University of Idaho in those days, I just decided one day to write a textbook for myself-one that matched the way I wanted to teach interpretation. That was my purpose, and I'd have to say it worked out well.

But even as I was putting the finishing touches on that book, I already knew I had to write this one. And just as I was two decades ago, I'm again encouraged by the prospect this volume might serve some useful purposes - although perhaps different ones. I hope those of you who turn these pages will notice (and appreciate) that although Interpretation - Making a Difference on Purpose has a practical "how to" focus, it's as much a book on how to think about interpretation as it is a book on how to do interpretation.
It amazes me when I realize this book has been in the making for seven years. The ideas it contains have steadily evolved and thickened over that period, in concert with the research that informs them. David Larsen remarked to me in one of our email exchanges a few years ago that "some readers will never see interpretation the same way after reading this book." I think he meant that in a good way. Anyone who knew David knows he often made bold proclamations that turned out to be true. I'm counting on this being another one of them. I hope you enjoy Interpretation - Making a Difference on Purpose. I doubt it will fundamentally change everything you know about the premise and promise of interpretation. But if it provokes you to think more deeply about ways to increase your own odds of making the kinds of differences you want to make, we'll both be happy.
Sam H. Ham, Professor Emeritus
November 7, 2012
Moscow, Idaho, USA

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