When I present key ideas associated with our work on heritage futures, promoting futures-thinking among heritage professionals, some colleagues say that this is nothing new. Here are a few examples illustrating what I mean when I say that we must go beyond the status quo in heritage thinking. I cite below several statements from a recent document on European heritage policy, and how we differ from the heritage futures perspective.
Status quo: Whether we like it or not, we are all intrinsically connected to our past.
Heritage futures: More than anything else, we are all necessarily tied up with on-going processes in our present and their impacts on the future.
Status quo: Europe’s cultural heritage is the direct result of our ancestors’ deeds, efforts and decisions.
Heritage futures: Europe’s current ‘cultural heritage’ has been constructed over the past couple of centuries by intellectuals, politicians, business people, and various kinds of cultural activists and influencers.
Status quo: It is time to acknowledge that this shared heritage, this sense of togetherness, is the real foundation on which Europe is built.
Heritage futures: It is time to acknowledge that Europe has been built on a notion of heritage that is increasingly associated with divisions in society.
Status quo: Europe’s cultural heritage … shows us how our lives are connected to a long line of generations coming before and after us.
Heritage futures: Cultural heritage must be re-imagined now to create a viable foundation for future societies, both in Europe and globally.
Status quo: Our cultural heritage holds up a mirror to who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be, and helps us to interpret our past successes and failures.
Heritage futures: Futures literacy in the heritage sector can facilitate necessary changes in society and in how we see ourselves, in order to meet global challenges of the future.