Chair on Heritage Futures

Embracing Change


I presented a keynote lecture entitled “Embracing Change: Cultural Heritage and Regeneration” for the 2024 International Forum on Cultural Heritage: Sustainability and Resilience hosted by the Asian Network of Industrial Heritage in Taiwan.

The event was part of the 2024 International Day of Monuments and Sites on 18 April, this year dedicated to the theme “Disasters and Conflicts through the Lens of the Venice Charter”. The forum aimed to explore sustainable practices and the resilience and adaptability of cultural heritage in the face of contemporary challenges.

The audience comprised 55 participants on site and additional 70 participating online via Facebook on Youtube.

My talk in the session on Sustainability and Futures focused on the following issues:

“Disasters and conflicts are the outcome of societal failures to take sufficient precautions, respond adequately to emerging events, or behave appropriately peacefully towards each other. Their impact is perceived as worse if acceptance of change is low. I argue that all this can be improved by an updated perception of (world) cultural heritage that is based on concepts of renewal and regeneration rather than conservation and restoration, as it is, for example, still advocated in the 1964 Venice Charter. Narratives of change over time, exemplified by ever-changing cultural heritage, are likely able to improve resilience and preparedness for transformations in future societies. They can also facilitate a new more pan-human or indeed post-human understanding of our shared world. As Tim Ingold (2024) wrote recently, cultural heritage should not be seen as an inheritance to be transmitted from one generation to the next but as a living and perduring process of continuous renewal generating social life under varying circumstances over time.“



My Wednesday Pizza Talk at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology attracted an audience of cirka 40 undergraduate and graduate students, researchers and Faculty.

I discussed the connections between Archaeology, Heritage and the Future, using examples ranging from prehistoric futures to UNESCO World Heritage properties to contemporary long-term repositories for nuclear waste. I also discussed the concept of ‘heritage futures’ and how it matters in relation to sustainable development and to addressing challenges posed by climate change and violent human conflicts.

I concluded summarising what the Archaeology of the Future is all about and what it takes to become a Future Archaeologist oneself – with inspiration from Disneyland.

Review by Kate Croll


Our book

Holtorf, C. and Högberg, A. (eds). 2021. Cultural Heritage and the Future. New York: Routledge. 279 pp. ISBN 978-1-138-82901-5 (paperback).

has been reviewed by Kate Croll, Dept of Anthropology, Archaeology and Development Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her review has now been published in South African Archaeological Bulletin 78 (219), 2023, 123-125.

Among others, she writes:

“Ultimately, this book is a useful reference for all heritage
practitioners – from archaeologists to heritage site managers –
since it provides a guide for how to think about the future in a
broad sense: that it is changeable and fluid, and that the way
we think about heritage today should be equally flexible.”

Getty Scholarship


January through March, Cornelius Holtorf spends in Los Angeles, USA as a Getty Conservation Guest Scholar.

During this time he is concerned with a project entitled “Heritage in Transformation”. His main question is this: if the future will be (and must be) changing in relation, among others, to the climate crisis, what does that mean for how the past and cultural heritage will be changing and have to change?

A new study published: Anticipating Futures for Heritage


The heritage sector has up until now seldom engaged with Strategic Foresight to better prepare for – and proactively face – different futures. This makes a new study just published by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) significant as an example that could potentially inspire other heritage actors to venture on their own Foresight journeys. 

In 2021, ICCROM, as part of its Foresight Initiative, employed Strategic Foresight to anticipate different futures for the heritage sector globally. This was done to increase resilience in the face of a changing world and outline possible opportunities for action. Gustav Wollentz, from the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, is one of the authors of the study, together with Alison Heritage and Amy Iwasaki. Cornelius Holtorf contributed as an expert advisor. 

To undertake this work, ICCROM launched a horizon scan study, which is an established method within Strategic Foresight, to gather intelligence about possible macro-environmental changes that might affect cultural heritage in the future. The project engaged an interdisciplinary team of 18 researchers and two advisors from different world regions who collectively generated over 60 research reports looking out over a 15-year horizon. The findings are categorized according to the PESTE-Framework: Political, Environmental, Societal, Technological and Economic.

The publication is available Open Access from here: https://www.iccrom.org/publication/anticipating-futures-heritage

Various activities October – December 2023


Cornelius Holtorf attended a zoom seminar on Hur kan vi framtidssäkra vår verksamhet? organised by the Museum of Västernorrland in Härnosand (3 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a lunch sponsored by the Friends of Sandbyborg at Linnaeus University’s training excavation site of Gamla Skogsby, followed by participating in a discussion panel to discuss ‘future archaeology’ in relation to the ongoing excavations (4 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in the annual meeting of the Academic Advisory Board of the Leibniz Centre for Archaeology (LEIZA) in Mainz, Germany. He also contributed to the Board’s retreat held one day later near Mainz (14-15 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf, Anders Högberg, Sarah May, Emily Hanscam, and Helena Rydén discussed their present priorities with colleagues at Malmö University interested in learning more about the work of the Chair with a view towards future collaboration (17 October 2023).

Anders Högberg presented a paper on “Participatory futures making and heritage processes” (co-authored with Gustav Wollentz) for colleagues at Malmö University (17 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf lectured for three hours on “Cultural and heritage tourism – making choices for the future” for 3 students taking the advanced-level course on Tourism and Sustainability in the Anthropocene 15 credits in Tourism and Recreation Studies at Linnaeus University, Kalmar (24 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf co-run a full-day workshop in Stockholm with 12 national heritage experts attending, forming part of a project on cultural heritage compensation for the Swedish Transport Adminstration (25 October 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a talk entitled “Varför hantering av kärnavfall behöver kunskap om kultur” for almost 30 attendants of the Culture Breakfast organised by the Municipality of Kalmar (14 November 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf was interviewed about Heritage Futures for TV station Dubai One in Dubai, UAE (27 November 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf signed the “Global Call to Put Cultural Heritage, Arts and Creative Sectors at the Heart of Climate Action.” This is a global call to the UNFCCC to include cultural heritage, the arts and creative sectors in climate policy, at the time of COP28 held in December 2023 in Dubai.

Cornelius Holtorf attended of the Resilience Hub programme at COP 28, held in Dubai, the following sessions

  • Preserving Our Legacy: Climate resilience for culture and heritage, hosted by the Climate Heritage Network (CHN) and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)  (3 December 2023)
  • How Creativity Can Build Resilient Communities (9 December 2023)

Cornelius Holtorf, Anders Högberg, and Ulrika Söderström attended a lecture by Marcy Rockman on “The Radical Importance of Now in Linking Archaeology and Climate Change” organised by the Swedigarch project (6 December 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf, Anders Högberg, and Gustav Wollentz contributed to an informal meeting of a small group of international specialists in heritage and foresight convened by Alison Heritage of ICCROM (8 December 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a meeting of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Interpretation and Presentation (ICIP) to discuss future strategy addressing contemporary conflicts (13 December 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in the virtual informal consultations on the UN Summit of the Future arranged by the Co-facilitators of the preparatory process, the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations of Germany and Namibia (13 December 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf lectured for a class of undergraduate students in Archaeology on “Archaeology, Climate, and Sustainability” (15 December 2023).

Cornelius Holtorf lectured for a class of undergraduate students in Cultural Policy on “Global Cultural Policy” (19 December 2023).

Keynote lecture on Heritage Futures and Futures Literacy


On Wednesday 13 December 2023, Anders Högberg was invited by University of Ferrara to give a keynote lecture on the topic “Heritage Futures and Futures Literacy. New roles for heritage in managing the relations between present and future societies”.

The keynote was presented at the Kaleidoscope of Sustainability, 5th Annual Kick-off Symposium of the PhD programme Environmental Sustainability and Wellbeing. It is a program that focuses on the research and training of young scholars interested in a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability and wellbeing. It is an impressive inter-disciplinary research school set-up be the University of Ferrara in co-operation with a wide range of universities from around the globe. It attracts PhD-students from the Humanities, Social Science, Economics, Law, Architecture, Urban Planning, Engineering, Chemical Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences.

Anders Högberg

Anders Högberg, Professor of Archaeology UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures


Dubai Future Forum


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.

A recording of the session is now available on YouTube.

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.

Heritage Changes


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