Posts Tagged ‘UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures’

Listening – important skill for the future

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Listening as an essential skill for future heritage practices

Diana Policarpo, Ciguatera [Installation], The Soul Expanding Ocean #4 [Exhibition]. Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Ocean Space, Venice. Seen on 30.04.2022.

Diana Policarpo, Ciguatera [Installation], The Soul Expanding Ocean #4 [Exhibition]. Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Ocean Space, Venice. Seen on 30.04.2022.

Ever since the elaboration of the UN Agenda for 2030 and its SDgs, and even more so since the elaboration of ICOMOS’ International Policy Guidance, cultural heritage has been advocated as an essential asset for tackling issues related to the climate crisis, with social challenges identified as part of this process. The International Day for Monuments and Sites (IDMS) offers the ideal setting for reflecting on which types of values attached to official heritage are suitable for designing the futures envisioned within these strategies. Or else, which hidden values might offer equal if not better support in designing these futures.

This year’s theme of the IDMS reflects on Heritage Changes and alternative sources of knowledge for welcoming our uncertain futures. It emphasizes Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems as valuable sources for finding solutions for meeting the SDGs and encourages heritage experts and institutions to open up dialogues at all levels of society and with other sectors in order to ensure representation in decision making processes with regards to the environment. 

This is a theme widely explored through the Panorama Platform within its Panorama Nature-Culture Community, which shares examples of good practices which seek to enhance the linkages between human communities and other-than-human communities and find solutions of co-existence and possibly flourishing together. Most of the explorations into these solutions are based on collaborations with Indigenous, traditional and local communities and the co-production of ecosystem management strategies, for ensuring the wellbeing of all types of communities and the conservation of heritage. When scrolling through the diverse case studies on the platform, one can come across approaches which touch upon diverse narratives which are usually woven into the “heritage for climate action” discourse: from indigenous healers engaged into actions aimed at saving tree species, to greening itineraries which lead to world heritage sites, to convincing people of the values of the conservation of their homes as an act of sustainability (just to name a few). Although all of these offer examples of action and therefore they create a sense of hopefulness, the common assumptions that seems to surface from these approaches, as well as those employed in similar actions in general,  are that:

  • Nature is an isolated object from ourselves, a realm to which we do not belong, and in need of our intervention in order to save it.
  • Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities are inherently willing to remain as they are (or as they are imagined) and offer solutions for environmental damages produced so far.
  • Cultural and Natural Heritage are static objects, which at best could be changed by bringing them into a state in which they were before (a “before” which is difficult to locate in time, although some might say “before the industrial revolution”).

This is not to say that such approaches are not useful in defining new models of interacting with our environments. Rather, these approaches touch upon the surface of the problem which lays at the heart of the current multiple crises we are experiencing. For tackling these, more powerful tools are needed which are able to decisively influence our very ways of envisioning ourselves as species within a broader context of an array of environments. Multispecies studies for example look at the multiple entanglements of livelihoods and of diverse communities of species and how these interact and influence each other, drawing also from Indigenous philosophies in this way. This might be an appropriate starting point for envisioning heritage practices as part of a management process of ecosystems and therefore bear in mind the impacts that our decisions related to heritage management have not just on humans but on other-than-humans as well. 

This becomes all the more important if we are to consider the power of heritage in shaping human values and behaviors and in defining our place in the world. In this case the following question arises: what is it that we bring with ourselves from our pasts that we would like to carry with us in the future? Reflecting upon the past in this case becomes not a nostalgic reflex, but rather identifying what it is that we’ve been carrying with us as societies. And in this sense, and keeping in mind the futures we envision for ourselves and for future generations, what is it that we might perhaps shed off as it will not be useful in these envisioned futures any longer? These are relevant reflections as we must acknowledge that, despite admirable efforts to slow down the rapid changes our worlds are undergoing, these changes in one form or another will happen and therefore the best we can do is to actually prepare. This means taking precautions, of course, but it also means that our very ways of relating to change, to uncertainty, to  our environments, must be steered towards acceptance and foresight equally. 

As much as we like to believe it, traditional knowledge is not static either. Surely if one were to document a traditional community across decades, they will notice changes in ways of perceiving and relating to the world, unless these lived completely isolated from other human communities (but even so might be influenced by changes in the rest of the environment). Too much tokenism has been expressed by outsiders in relation to Indigenous, traditional or local communities, and therefore when entering such a domain there is a need to proceed not just ethically, but also in attempts to establish genuine relationships in order to understand the other intimately. Too often, the sounding of these communities as sources of valuable knowledge for tackling the challenges we encounter is similar to that of careless extraction of resources from the rest of the environment. The first thing to keep in mind when seeking advice in such a context could be as simple as asking ourselves if these communities want to have anything to do with our actions. For this, heritage experts need to leave behind their desire to persuade people into values and actions and rather just listen.

Perhaps it all comes down to the simple act of listening carefully, to human worlds and other-than-human worlds as well. Not for replying, not for finding solutions, but just for the sake of listening. This is an act which heritage experts will need to acquire if they want to be prepared both for the changes within our worlds, and for the changing of the heritage sector as well. After all, when imagining diverse futures, we are in a position of envisioning different ways of relating to the past as well. 

Elena Maria Cautis

Elena Maria Cautis, PhD student

Elena Maria Cautis, PhD student with the Centre for Applied Heritage and the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University.

International Day for Monuments and Sites, ICOMOS

18 April is the International Day for Monuments and Sites, coordinated by ICOMOS. This year the theme is “Heritage Changes”.

WOW! The Future is Calling! 

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Artist, teacher and curator Pernilla Frid guided a group of university administrators in Kalmar on the 30 March 2023, to talk about the art at Linnaeus University. The guided tour ended at the exhibition Back to the Future in the Knowledge Cube in Kalmar. The basis of the exhibition is the research conducted within the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, and one part of the exhibition is devoted to the picture book WOW! The Future is Calling!

Pernilla showed us her contribution to the exhibition and talked enthusiastically about the characters, If, Wow and Try. She wanted us to understand that parts of these character traits can be found in all of us.

She explained to us that she when she was invited to apply her skills, she was immediately attracted to work in this context and with innovative concepts. The point is to convey the variety and richness in which we can engage with the future. The book behind gives many examples, both in the way the main characters act, representing three different ways of relating to the future, and in the many details, which surround them.

Thank you Pernilla for a lovely afternoon!

The book is available here https://issuu.com/lnu12/docs/wow 

Copyright © 2021. Text & illustrations: Pernilla Frid & Cornelius Holtorf. All rights reserved.

Pernilla Frid

Artist Pernilla Frid at the exhibition Back to the Future in the Knowledge Cube, Kalmar, Sweden.


Intervju i podd av Sveriges hembygdsförbund

Thursday, March 16th, 2023
Hur kan vi tänka kring framtidens kulturarv – och vad kan tänkas vara intressant för framtida generationer att bevara? Cornelius Holtorf intervjuas i podden Resten är historia från Sveriges hembygdsförbund – lyssna här
Podden Resten är historia Sveriges hembygdsförbund

Podden Resten är historia, Sveriges hembygdsförbund

ChatGPT missar kulturarvets komplexitet

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

“Framtidens teknologi sitter inne med gammal kunskap. När chattroboten ChatGPT fick frågor om vad kulturarv är och varför det är viktigt, gav den svar som inte inkluderar nya forskningsresultat.” Det skriver Anders Högberg, professor i arkeologi och medlem i forskningsteamet kring Unescoprofessuren vid Linnéuniversitetet. Läs artikeln i Magasin K*:

ChatGPT missar kulturarvets komplexitet | Magasin K


Anders Högberg

Anders Högberg, Professor of Archaeology UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

* Magasin K är en digital tidning för den som jobbar, studerar eller är intresserad av branscherna kultur, kommunikation och kreativ sektor.

Responding to the climate emergency

Saturday, October 1st, 2022

I have been attending the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico-City (28-30 September 2022). My University made a story out of it!

My formal role was an invited statement in the session “Responding to the climate emergency: new imperatives for cultural policy”, organised by the Climate Heritage Network. The session attracted an audience of more than 60 participants in the room (plus an unknown number of digital listeners) and it was very well received.

In my short contribution, I emphasized the significance of culture for mitigating the climate crisis and for preparing for a different world in the future. I also noted what I called the Climate Heritage Paradox:

  1. Heritage promotes continuity when we in fact need change.
  2. Heritage is framed in a local/national context when in fact we need global and multilateral collaboration.

(Similar issues are now also discussed in a White Paper on “The role of cultural and natural heritage for climate action” which resulted from the  International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change co-arranged by IPCC, UNESCO, and ICOMOS in December 2021.)

I concluded with two action items. Capacity building is necessary …

  • for the cultural sector generally: integrate foresight and long-term futures thinking throughout the sector (as also recommended in the UN Secretary General’s 2021 report on Our Common Agenda)
  • for the cultural heritage sector and education in heritage: (a) embrace more often change (or cultural diversity over time), not as much continuity and conservation, as well as (b) strengthen global thinking in the field.


Monday, September 26th, 2022

Cornelius is on his way to MONDIACULT 2022 in Mexico-City, taking with him a parcel containing copies of our new leafletSustainable Development Needs Foresight”.

Free Training Resources UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

The aim is to create interest in our work with heritage futures and to advertise the Chair’s free training resources now available via https://lnu.se/en/unescochair .

Världen behöver fred!

Friday, March 25th, 2022
Gemensamt yttrande av Mörbylånga kommun, Länsstyrelsen Kalmar län, Region Kalmar, Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund, Kalmar läns museum och Linnéuniversitetets Unescoprofessur om kulturarv och framtiden:

”Eftersom krigen har sitt ursprung i människornas sinnen, måste försvaret av freden också byggas upp i människornas sinnen”, står det i Unescos stadgar.

Unesco är FN:s organisation för utbildning, vetenskap och kultur och har idag 193 medlemsländer. Unesco verkar för fred och säkerhet i världen, bland annat via världsarvskonventionen. Med anledning av kriget i Ukraina och andra krig som pågår vill vi uppmana alla beslutsfattare att göra sitt yttersta för att uppnå fred.

Rapsfält i Gräsgård i Unesco Världsarv Södra Ölands odlingslandskap. Foto: Annika Gustavsson

Vi anser att världsarven kan bidra till en fredligare värld genom att öka förståelse och respekt mellan människor.

Idag vill vi berätta om Ukrainas sju världsarv:

  1. Sofiakatedralen i Kyiv och relaterade klosterbyggnader Kyiv-Petjersk Lavra
    Sofiakatedralen och dess närliggande klosterbyggnader Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra anses vara två enastående exempel på kulturarvsbyggnader från medeltiden och den tidigmoderna perioden (1500-1800). Världsarven berättar om vilka unika platser människan kan skapa.
  2. Lviv – stadens historiska centrum 
    Lviv är en stad i västra Ukraina som grundades under medeltiden. Lviv är ett kulturvärldsarv tack vare sin unika blandning av traditioner i stadens utformning från Östeuropa, Italien och Tyskland. Lviv är ett världsarv där människor från många olika kulturer kunde leva tillsammans och utöva sina traditioner sida vid sida, redan under medeltiden.
  3. Struves meridianbåge
    I Ukraina är fyra av Struves meridianbåges mätpunkter klassade som världsarv. Dessa fyra ingår i en total av 265 mätpunkter som går genom flertalet länder i Europa, däribland Sverige. Mätpunkterna användes för att mäta meridianen och på så sätt även kunna återge storleken och formen på vår planet. Struves är ett unikt exempel på världsarv som visar vad som kan uppnås när människor i många olika länder arbetar tillsammans.
  4. Bokurskogarna i Karpaterna och andra europeiska regioner
    Bokurskogarna berättar om hur ett ekosystem har återhämtat sig och utvecklats sen den senaste istiden. Detta är Ukrainas enda naturvärldsarv och med sin unika natur är detta världsarv något som behövs bevaras och skyddas.
  5. Bukovinska och Dalmatiska metropoliternas residens
    Detta enorma byggnadskomplex nära staden Chernivtsi i sydvästra Ukraina, visar på många olika byggnadskulturella influenser samt ett starkt inslag av ortodoxa traditioner. Idag används byggnaderna som ett universitet. Det är genom kunskap och lärandet som gör att vi kan utvecklas, att kunna se saker annorlunda. Residenset visar att världsarv kan bidra på olika sätt för fred.
  6. Forntida tauriska staden Chersonesos och dess chora
    Detta är kvarlämningarna av en stad grundad av greker runt 500 f. kr på sydvästra Krimhalvön. Staden vittnar om en fysisk kontakt mellan olika kulturer norr om, och runt Svarta havet. Världsarvet kan påminna människorna i regionen att man har haft fredliga relationer till varandra trots olika kulturer. Det är viktigt att världsarven finns kvar och kan både påminna och skapa en känsla av samhörighet människor emellan.
  7. Träkyrkorna i Karpatiska regionen i Polen och Ukraina
    I östkanten av central Europa ligger 16 träkyrkor (tserkvas). I Ukraina ligger 8 av kyrkorna, nära gränsen till Polen. Träkyrkorna byggdes mellan 1500-1800 av olika ortodoxa och katolska samhällen.

International UNESCO Chairs Forum on the Futures of Higher Education

Monday, January 24th, 2022

24 January

Today, I have been attending International UNESCO Chairs Forum on the Futures of Higher Education. The event was livestreamed on Facebook.

Italy and UNESCO at The Italian Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, set up the session on a digital arena jointly. It lasted two hours and included a keynote by Mr. Francesc Pedro, Director, UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Futures of Higher Education: Global trends, opportunities and challenges. Two panels followed; 1) Skills for Work and Life and 2) Digitalization and Connectivity. At the end, the Italian UNESCO Chairs for Sustainability made a declaration. Finally, Ms. Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (live from Paris) thanked everyone for participating and made some closing remarks about the role of the UNESCO Chairs as knowledge bases and the importance of relating to change.

My impression of the day was:

Topics discussed were very interesting, especially the part with focus on futures literacy (Panel 1) with Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair in Futures Literacy, The Netherlands, Dr. Ziad Said, UNESCO Chair on TVET and Sustainable Development, Qatar, Dr. Willy Ngaka, UNITWIN Network on Literacies, Green Skilling, and Capacity Development for Sustainable Communities in Africa, Uganda:

The moderator Giorgia Ferraro at The Italian Pavilion introduced Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair on Futures Literacy, The Netherlands who started with this:

The future does not exist.

The future exists only in our imagination.

Our images of the future that we create have a profound impact on what we do in the present.

How do we prepare ourselves for something that does not exist?

What kind of skills for work and life do we need?

A short summary of the main points by Professor Loes Damhoff: We know three things:

  1. Change is constant
  2. Uncertainty is an aspect of life
  3. Complexity is a part of life

We cannot eliminate uncertainty and complexity. We might need to rethink how we relate to change.

One way to do that is futures literacy. This capability helps you to imagine multiple futures. We use the futures as lenses to look upon what we are doing in the present.

Professor Loes Damhoff concluded: When we plan and prepare for something that is going to happen, we can identify the assumptions that we have, and this means that we can open up for novelty and the unexpected. This is a new mindset for managers, policymakers and students.

We all anticipate – it is global! We need to become future thinkers on all levels of society to meet global challenges!


Professor Loes Damhoff, UNESCO Chair on Futures Literacy, The Netherlands.


I expected more interaction and found out that it was a digital stage that you could listen to and watch. However, the topics were very interesting and it was interesting to see and hear UNESCO Chairs from all over the world! The whole session was recorded and is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFEZIC6Ur3s


Helena Rydén, Ass. UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University

Collaboration with Korea

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

A Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed by the two Deans of the College of Cultural Heritage at Korea National University of Cultural Heritage and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Linnaeus University.

In the MoU the two sides expressed their intention to collaborate in the following ways:

  1. Exchange of students, faculty members/researchers and administrative staff,
  2. Joint lectures, seminars, and conferences,
  3. Collaborative academic research/teaching projects and activities.

The MoU is the result of a visit by a delegation from Korea to the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University in 2019.

Framtidsmedvetande inom kulturarvssektorn

Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Gustav Wollentz (NCK) diskuterar frågan “Hur kan vi öka framtidsmedvetandet inom kulturarvssektorn?” på EPALE (Europeisk plattform för vuxnas lärande). Hans slutsats:

Det går att konkludera att ett utökat framtidsmedvetande är en kompetens som man kan lära sig, och som sannolikt kommer bli alltmer betydelsefull både specifikt inom kulturarvssektorn och även i samhället i stort. På många vis är det nödvändigt för att faktiskt kunna möta de utmaningar som samhället står inför.

Gustavs forskning genomfördes med stöd av, och i samarbete med Unescoprofessuren om Heritage Futures.