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The Smithsonian in France 2021
March 31, 2021

Inclusivity, Diversity and Sustainability: The Civil Right of the 21st Century

How can museum professionals, educators, artists and civil society leaders work together to support young audiences in their reflection on major societal issues?  How can we make museums a more inclusive place where youth can debate and propose solutions to urgent social and climate questions? 

This series on inclusivity, diversity and sustainability is offered by the Embassy of the United States of America in France in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution throughout 2021. This project takes place in two phases: with a cycle of webinars for museum professionals and teachers in the spring, and a series of workshops with high school students in the fall. 

On this page you will find recordings of the webinars (with simultaneous interpretation or subtitling) and educational resources shared by the various discussants. 


Inclusive cultural practices 

These Franco-American conversations connect museum professionals, teachers, artists, and civil society leaders who use museums to engage with youth on questions of social justice and the future of the planet.  Participants interact directly with professionals in the United States on the future of equitable cultural practices inside and outside of our museums. 


February 4 – Inaugural panel discussion: Telling Stories That Matter For Our Shared Future 


Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Juliette GuépratteDirector of Strategy, Louvre-Lens Museum
Malcom Ferdinandresearcher in political environmental studiesFondation pour l’écologie politique Book Prize 2019  

Discussion moderated by Maxime Tellier, journalist at France Culture  

Video February 4 
March 24 – The Fierce Urgency of Now: A Conversation on Race, Cultural Practice, and Our Shared Future  


Join a group of cultural workers and thought leaders for a timely conversation about the future of sound cultural practice both in and outside museum walls: 

What does an equitable and inclusive museum look like?
What constitutes equitable and honorable collection practice?
What is the role of educators and artists in ensuring that cultural institutions create truly safe spaces for difficult encounters?
What is needed to collaborate with communities as they call for decolonization, reciprocal learning, the repatriation of objects, shared authority, and so much more?   


Greg Adams, Interim Director, Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections 
Ping-Ann Addo, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Boston 
Junious Brickhouse, Urban Dance Educator, Choreographer, Cultural Preservationist 
Julia Loíza Gutiérrez-Rivera, Dancer-Choreographer, Arts Educator, Activist 
Lisa Sasaki, Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian  

Discussion moderated by Sabrina Lynn MotleyDirector, Shttps://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/sonoma-art-professor-tackles-racemithsonian Folklife Festival   

Video Link: March 24  


Food for the Journey: Links to Resources that Nurture, Challenge, and Provoke Us 

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Shared Stewardship Policy

Smithsonian Folklife Magazine article on the impact of shared stewardship

Junious Brickhouse Reflections (videos)

-Americans with Disability Act (ADA: loi pour le handicap de 1990) ADA Past, Present, and Future through the Lens of the Coronavirus by Rebecca Cokleydirector of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress

Chronicling Culture in Crisis, a Smithsonian Folklife Magazine series featuring individuals and their communities as they use their traditions and creativity to respond not only to the public health crisis but also economic uncertainty, structural racism, and climate change. 

The Bitter Southernera dynamic digital magazine that aims uncover the American South in all its truth and complexity — and in the process to break stereotypes about the region and its people by pushing out important, difficult, uncomfortable, irreverent, witty, addictive, and always enjoyable stories that turn myths about the South inside out. 

We are not a Stereotype: Breaking Down Asian Pacifica American Bias, A Video Series for Classroom Teachers and Caregivers Who Teach 

Care Package: Poems, Meditations, Films, and Other Cultural Nutrients for Times like This 

Heritage IRL, A web series engaging Asian American heritage “in real life,” in progress, across a range of media and communities. 


April 7 – Earth Optimism: Beyond Gloom and Doom on Climate and Conservation 


Our experts discussed about the future of sound cultural and environmental practice both in and outside museum walls. During this session, educators and museum professionals will learn what inspired the featured Earth Optimism storytellers to moving away from a narrative of doomsday to one of grounded, pragmatic optimism. Find out what an Earth Optimism framing includes and hear from colleagues and experts on how you can integrate this approach into your work. 


Nancy Knowlton (moderator), Coral Reef Biologist, Sant Chair in Marine Science Emerita, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Co-Founder of Earth Optimism
Ange Ansour, Founder and Director of Programs, Les Savanturiers
Rhett Butler , Founder, Mongabay Inspirations & News from 
Andrea Lipps, Associate Curator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Isabel Nottaris, Deputy Director, Toulouse Museum of Natural History  

Video Link:  April 7


Additional resources: 

– Nature by Design exhibits https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/nature-by-design/

– Want to get involved in Les Savanturiers ? Projects for teachers, from kindergarten to high school can be downloaded here.

– Mongabay’s Conservation Solutions

– Extinction exhibitToulouse Museum


May 12 – Do Something! How museums and educators can engage the public to take environmental action 


In this session, we are convening museum curators, scientists, and education experts to discuss examples of interdisciplinary programs and public engagement strategies and reflect on opportunities to further advance actions for a sustainable future, and to exchange views on the following questions: 

What role and responsibility can / should museums and educators have to address our global environmental challenges?   

How can museums and educators leverage their resources to create an innovative sustainability culture?   

Can art and science collaborations build better relationships between humans and our natural world to drive conservation solutions?   

Finally, what opportunities are there to engage with global conservation events in 2021?  


Annabelle Aish, Project Lead  Bioinspire-Muséum,Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris 
Ian Brunswick, Curator of Futures Exhibition, Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building  
Olivia Cosby,  Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute et Working Land and Seascapes 
Alexandre Mounier, President, NGO1 déchet par jour/1 piece of rubbish  
Sarah Sutton, Principal,Sustainable Museums   

Video in french  : May 12

Additional resources

– America is All In

– COP26 United Nations Climate Change side events and exhibits eligibility

– Abbe Museum, Maine: Inspiring new learning about the Wabanaki Nations

– Early Spring: Henry Thoreau and Climate Change, Concord Museum,  Massachusetts

– Grand Rapids Art Museum

– Wild Center Youth Summits, upstate New York   

– Video Bioinspiration 360°, French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) 

– Museum ManifestoFrench National Museum of Natural History (MNHN)  

– Exhibition “Vies d’ordures”, MuCEM, Marseille  


June 2 – Meeting between high-schoolers and oceanographic specialists:


Philippe Cousteau Jr., Franco-American oceanographer and ecological activist, co-founder of the EarthEcho International initiative.
Melanie McField, expert on coral reefs, director of the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) at the Smithsonian Institution.
Melina Soto, coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) in Mexico.

Video in French/English : June 2



June 5-13 1 World Oceans Day challenge 1 Action for the Ocean   


For World Ocean Day (June 8), the Embassy of the United States of America in France is organizing the “1 Good Deed for the Ocean” challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution- Earth Optimism and the Marseilles-based association, 1 Déchet Par Jour (One Piece Per Day). The youth of both France and the United States are invited to do a good deed for the environment by helping to clean up trash on a beach, near a stream, or on their way to school or near their home (because all trash left on the ground can ultimately wind up in the ocean). They are also encouraged to post their good deeds on Instagram, tagging @usembassyfrance . Every bit counts!

“President Biden and Vice-President Harris have been very clear on this subject, this government is resolved to combat the climate crisis more than any other in the history of the United States. We know the kind of world that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren. There is no cause more urgent and more capable of bringing us together.”   Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State


From theory to practice

Coinciding with the opening of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille at the beginning of September, the Embassy of the United States of America, the Smithsonian Institution, the Delegation on European and International Relations of the Ministry of National Education, and eTwinning are organizing the return of a series virtual sessions for French and American high-school students on the themes of social inclusion and climate change. 

There will be a total of 50 classes that will discuss, throughout the first term on the following subjects, led by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) team and experts from France and the United States. 

Month Theme Subject 
SeptemberDurabilityDurability: how can we understand and promote it around us? 
October Oral Histories Passing on our stories: what connects us and what divides us?
November Diversity and Equality in OpportunityHow to prioritize equity, accessibility, and durability around us? 
DecemberHealthHow can we preserve our health? 

The Smithsonian Institution 

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2021 and remains true to the wish of its founder James Smithson (1765-1829) to increase and diffuse knowledge. Today the institution includes 19 museums, 21 libraries, a national zoo and numerous scientific research centers across the United States, making it one of the most influential cultural institutions in the world. The Smithsonian has a global mission, and is actively involved in the conservation of biodiversity, the arts and culture. www.si.edu