World Futures Day 4 December UNESCO

7 December, 2023

Cornelius Holtorf and Helena Rydén celebrated UNESCO World Futures Day 2023 #FuturesDay at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, by joining the global conversation on futures and foresight: Building Inclusive Societies through Futures Literacy & Foresight.…/celebration-world-futures-day…

The event was well attended, both in Paris and online.

WFD Paris 2023

World Futures Day in Paris, UNESCO 2023. The day ended with experimental future-oriented approaches, by Pedro De Senna, Cornelius Holtorf and Laura Watts.

WFD 2023 Paris

Linnaeus University made an impact!

Dubai Future Forum

28 November, 2023

Cornelius Holtorf was invited to attend and speak at the Dubai Future Forum in Dubai, UAE. (27-28 November 2023). A total of 150 invited speakers presented in some 70 sessions, with ca 800 participants from close to 100 countries. The conference ended only two days before the start of COP28 and some participants stayed on.

As you can see on the image, I was wearing my UNESCO badge for global peace. Otherwise, various ongoing wars did not feature much during the entire event.

Close to 100 people attended our session, which was entitled Heritage Futures: How Does Culture Shape Tomorrow? In the session we wanted to introduce the concept of heritage futures to the global futurists:

This session is about ‘Heritage Futures’ which stands at the intersection of past legacies and tomorrow’s possibilities. We will discuss how culture shapes the world of tomorrow. Heritage is not just about conserving relics and memories of the past, but about making them resonate in an evolving world – and learning new ways to approach the future through care.

Other highlights of the conference included otherwise the experience of futures thinking in Dubai where the leadership has been developing ambitious futures programmes for many decades. This includes not only infrastructure and technology projects but also the Dubai Future Foundation and the Museum of the Future where the conference took place. Much of this rests on the income from oil which was discovered here as late as 1958 and enabled the country to have a stunning development. By 2071, the UAE aspires to be “the best country of the world,” as Ohood Al Roumi, the country’s Minister of the Future put it.

Although people were mentioned frequently, the themes of most of the keynotes and general panels revolved around technology (incl space and AI), energy (but not much on oil!), business, policy-making, health and food. There was very little about understanding people and appreciating various cultural ways of making sense of the world.

Some memorable quotes:

“We need to have the future at the table as well as on the menue,” Angela Wilkinson, World Energy Council

“Most countries don’t have long-term goals,” Sophie Howe, first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

“What matters is not the assets but their value,” Michael Clark, Mastercard

“Create the future, not just adapt!”, Adam Kahane, Reos Partners

“Our best futures need your magic as an alchemist,” Sarah de Vanzo, Pierre Fabre

“The future belongs to those who dare to imagine it,” David Alabo, digital artist

“If we are following trends, we are too late,” Benjamin Moncrieffe, Jaguar Land Rover

Perhaps most importantly, at least from my perspective, we were briefed in one session on the run-up to the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024. If anybody else is interested, click here for more information and the chance to sign up for continuous information provided by the School of International Futures and Foundations for Tomorrow.


Progress Report 2022/2023

27 November, 2023

This report covers the sixth year of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University. Among the highlights of the year were several global initiatives which our Chair could influence with its distinctive perspective on heritage futures that becomes ever better known. This included the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico City at the end of September. The conference established the significance of culture as a global public good and called for the inclusion of culture as a stand-along goal in the post-2030 international development agenda.

Progress Report 2022/2023

Progress Report 2022/2023

View (issuu)

Download (DiVA)

Cornelius Holtorf

Cornelius Holtorf at UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico City. The conference was attended by more than 100 ministers of culture, but also representatives from over 150 intergovernmental organizations, UNESCO partners, civil society, and some of the other UNESCO Chairs in the field of culture.

A topic that remains significant in our work is memory across generations related to repositories of nuclear waste. In this context, Sarah May co-edited a new volume on Toxic heritage, and Anders Högberg and I published a paper on “Nuclear Waste as Critical Heritage” that in some ways constitutes a conclusion of our decade-long research on these issues. Among the research projects listed below is a range of exciting new empirical research Chair members have been involved in over the past year.

There were also several opportunities to meet and collaborate with other UNESCO Chairholders from different corners of the world. These are important occasions as they pave the way for global collaborations in new areas.

Please get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions!

Cornelius Holtorf, Professor of Archaeology, and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures


Why ‘Futures Literacy’ is important for museums and museum practices 

13 November, 2023

Anders Högberg gave a keynote presentation at ”Museenes forskerkonferanse 2073”, arranged by Norske Museumsforbundet and Oslo Museums:

Futures Literacy, Why it is important for museums and museum practices.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read this information as well about future consciousness at some Swedish County Museums:

Högberg, A., Wollentz, G., Holtorf, C. (2022)
Framtidsmedvetande på museer: Några svenska länsmuseer i fokus
Nordisk Museologi, 34(2): 5-22


Anders Högberg

Anders Högberg, Professor of Archaeology UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Archaeologies of the Near Future

27 October, 2023

Jim Leary published in April 2023 three creative essays on “Archaeologies of the Near Future” in Epoiesen: A Journal for Creative Engagement in History and Archaeology. This relates to his TAG session in 2021 with the same title.

Leary’s aim was to imagine the role of archaeology in the year 2223 of the common era. His goal:

“to project yourselves, not into the past, as archaeologists are wont to do, but into the near future – a future still two centuries away. To think about a future world in which we are the past. A future none of us will ever know, but one not so distant, I think, to be completely unimaginable.”

Did he succeed in what he calls “extreme horizon scanning” and “archaeo-futurology”? Only partly. The essay Brushstrokes questions a number of archaeological practices as we know them today, and it certainly does revolve around a fascinating idea not known from the present. The Site diary of an Interplanetary Heritage Officer is set on Mars (a bit as in the movie The Martian). 

But much of the scenarios presented are less “unimaginable” and “extreme” than I was expecting and hoping for. Archaeology is still about discoveries about the past. Even on Mars there are interplanetary heritage officers maintaining the Martian Historic Environment Record, identifying interplanetary heritage sites (IHS), and designating Sites of Importance under the Outer Space Treaty. The narrator of the story did his PhD on the archaeology of starships and writes reports about a level 2 robotic survey recommending designation.

Time travel it may be, but not necessarily to the future.


The team gathered in Malmö

23 October, 2023

Anders Högberg

Anders Högberg (UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures) presenting a project at Malmö University (17 October ) that he and Gustav Wollentz from NCK, The Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning & Creativity, are making together. Gustav Wollentz is conducting a series of interviews with young people in the Araby district in Växjö. The work is part of a research project between Linnaeus University and Växjö Municipality.


From left Carolina Jonsson Malm, Anders Högberg, Emily Hanscam, Sarah may, Anna Bruun Månsson, Kristina Lindström, Per-Markku Ristilammi, Helena Rydén

From left Carolina Jonsson Malm (Malmö University), Anders Högberg, Emily Hanscam and Sarah May (UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures), Anna Bruun Månsson, Kristina Lindström and Per-Markku Ristilammi (Malmö University), Helena Rydén (UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures)

Thank you Malmö University for interesting discussions, and for hosting the team of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures!


UNESCO Chairs met in Copenhagen

23 October, 2023

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures and Unesco Chair in Anticipatory Leadership and Futures Capabilities

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University and Unesco Chair in Anticipatory Leadership and Futures Capabilities at Aarhus University met in Copenhagen 16 October for discussions on a future collaborative project. From left Nick Larsen (Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies), Sarah May, Cornelius Holtorf (holder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures), Emily Hanscam, Helena Rydén, Anders Högberg, Adam Gordon (holder of the UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Leadership and Futures Capabilities).

Nick Larsen, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies

Nick Larsen, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies

Sarah May and Jonas Gissel Mikkelsen

Sarah May (UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures) and Jonas Gissel Mikkelsen (Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies)

From left Sarah May, Nick Larsen, Anders Högberg, Helena Rydén, Adam Gordon, Emily Hanscam

From left Sarah May, Nick Larsen, Anders Högberg, Helena Rydén, Adam Gordon, Emily Hanscam

Various activities July – September 2023

26 September, 2023

Cornelius Holtorf and Gustav Wollentz attended the Naturkulturworkshopen Waste-in-progress (organised by Timo Menko as part of Smålandstriennalen 2023) held at the illegal waste deposit site in Marhult. During the event they were interviewed by Mathilda Johansson for “Eftermiddag i P4 Kronoberg med Henric Bingström”, broadcast on the same day and available at–9 (27 July 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf participated actively in a brainstorming session for the planned UNESCO Chairs Forum at the World Heritage Committee meeting, convened and chaired by Heba Aziz, UNESCO Chair for World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Management in the Arab Region at the German University of Technology in Oman. Also participating were five additional UNESCO Chairholders in Egypt (2), Germany, Greece, and Switzerland and three representives of further UNESCO Chairs in Germany, Italy, and Peru (15 August 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg participated in several preparatory meetings ahead of the Joint UNESCO/Futures Literacy-OECD/NEA/IDKM Capacity Building on Futures Literacy Training Workshop in Stockholm on 25 September (16 August, 17 August, 6 September, 19 September 2023). 

Cornelius Holtorf co-organized (with J. Schönicke and B. Butler) and chaired a session on “The Mushroom Speaks: An Archaeology of Fungi Entanglements” and presented on “Excavating the Future? Towards a (Field) Archaeology of Growth and Regeneration” at the 29th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists held at Belfast, UK (1 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf met up in Sydney, Australia, with Helen McCracken, Principal Adviser (Delivery) at the Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage, Government of New Zealand, to discuss her recent work leading to the first Long-Term Insights Briefing in which the Ministry fulfilled its statutory duty to enhance public debate on long-term issues and usefully contribute to future decision making, according to the New Zealand Public Service Act 2020 (4 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf met up in Sydney, Australia, with Riin Alatalu,  UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage Studies at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, Estonia, to discuss mutual collaboration in the context of our respective UNESCO Chairs and related to the ICOMOS University Forum initiative (4 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a Roundtable at the ICOMOS GA2023 in Sydney, Australia, addressing “Aerospace Heritage and Sustainability” (7 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf participated and intervened digitally in the first UNESCO Chairs Forum on Heritage, held as a side event of the Extended 45th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Lazare Eloundou Assomo, 30 people in the room, and 27 UNESCO Chairs from around the world attending, either physically or digitally (18 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the international symposium “Multidisciplinary Overview of the Situation in Fukushima“, held at l’Humathèque Condorcet, Paris, France (21 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf met to discuss Culture in the Post-2030 Agenda with Paola Leoncini Bartoli, Director of the Cultural Policies and Development Unit, UNESCO, Paris, France (22 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the first day of the Meeting on “The Medium and the Message: Challenges and Solutions in Selecting and Preserving Records of Radioactive Waste” by the Expert Group on Archiving for Radioactive Waste Management Activities (EGAR) of the Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD) held at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) in Stockholm (26 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf offered comments on a draft concept note on “Climate Actions for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage” (26 Sept 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf attended an online “Future Wednesday” session, organised by VINNOVA (27 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf contributed to revising the draft of the “Venice Call to Put Culture at the Heart of Climate Action” ahead of COP28 (27 September 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf attended the European Heritage Hub Community of Practice Forum “Reimagining the Anthropocene: Putting Culture and Heritage at the Heart of Climate Action” held as part of the  European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023, broadcast from Venice, Italy (28 September 2023).

Futures Literacy Laboratory

25 September, 2023

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg co-organized and co-ran (with C. Kavazanjian, UNESCO, Paris, N. Christophilopoulos, UNESCO Chair on Futures Research, Greece, and M. Packer, OECD/NEA, Paris) the first Futures Literacy Laboratory in collaboration between UNESCO and OECD/NEA.

Picture: Rebecca Tadesse, Head of Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning Division at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, welcomes participants

Dedicated to exploring “The Future of Human Responses to Deep Geological Repositories” a total 17 international participants were present at the Lab which was held at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) in Stockholm (25 September 2023).

The Lab established the usefulness of the skill of futures literacy in the context of awareness preservation concerning long-term repositories of nuclear waste. Futures literacy encompasses both an awareness of the large significance of present-day assumptions about the future and an understanding of multiple alternative futures lying ahead of the contemporary world.


Heritage Changes

5 September, 2023

Cornelius Holtorf has been organizing (since before the pandemic!) and chaired a Roundtable Dialogue at the ICOMOS Scientific Symposium “Heritage Changes” during the ICOMOS General Assembly 2023 held in Sydney, Australia addressing the question “What does it mean to manage heritage for the future? How will heritage (have to) change”?  (4-8 September 2023).

The organisers of the symposium had framed the theme HERITAGE CHANGES like this:

The GA2023 theme seeks to examine the tumultuous changes taking place in the first years of the 2020s. Climate emergencies, conflict, COVID-19, lockdowns, closed borders, virtual meetings, and the Black Lives Matter movement have profoundly altered the ways in which the world is experienced. What has been the role of heritage in these events? What is changing in the field of heritage and what needs to change? What does heritage change – for example, in civil society, the environment, the economy, and in politics? And, in what ways is heritage a force for change and integral to creating a sustainable future?

During the roundtable we discussed among the panel and with an audience of 150+ how heritage changes and how heritage needs to change, whether or not the future can be decolonised, what the possibility of societal discontinuities and extinction might mean for managing heritage, and whether heritage holds liabilities for achieving sustainable development.

The participants included

  • Cornelius Holtorf (Chair)   UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University, Sweden
  • Vanicka Arora   University of Stirling, UK
  • Gabriel Caballero  Focal Point, ICOMOS SDG Working Group
  • Kate Clark   Public Value Consulting, Australia
  • Carolyn Hill  University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • William Megarry   Focal Point, ICOMOS Climate Change & Heritage Working Group