Shaping Sustainable Futures through Heritage…

14:36 by Cornelius Holtorf

… was the topic of this years’s Spring Conference of the Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity (NCK) held on 12-13 February 2020 in Östersund, Sweden.

The conference brought together more than 60 participants from several countries lively discussing what futures thinking and sustainable development can mean in the context of museums, archives and heritage sites. In his keynote lecture entitled Sustainable Futures for Heritage?, Cornelius Holtorf argued that cultural heritage will have a future to the extent that it can contribute to sustainable societies. But what does that mean?

Staffan Appelgren from the University of Göteborg gave one possible answer when he asked at the end of his lecture on re-use and the circular economy: “why do museums have collections? Why do they not borrow things as needed?” Other unusual ideas were explored in a time travel to the year 2070 that was organised by Kalmar County Museum and concluded the conference. Clearly, with methods developed in reference to the past we can travel to the future too.

For the heritage sector to be able to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals in a concrete way much similar innovation will be needed, both in thinking and in practice. To make a real difference for future generations it will not be good enough for heritage experts to campaign against losing a few coastal heritage sites to rising sea levels… 

Cornelius Holtorf
In 2017, Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden, was awarded a UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. This is one of eight Chairs in Sweden, and the only one within the cultural sector. Cornelius Holtorf, holder of the UNESCO Chair, alongside his team, will continue to generate ideas through this forum.

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