the world from space and aerial view of Rio de Janeiro

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

How is the future being shaped through cultural and natural heritage legislation and management, the 1972 World Heritage Convention, creative reconstructions of lost heritage, markers about final repositories of nuclear waste, or carefully designed messages sent into outer space?

  • When is the future that such practices work towards?
  • How can we determine what will benefit future generations?
  • What is the legacy we will leave behind?

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 a team will continue to generate ideas and work with heritage practitioners in finding answers to these questions and in developing their own professional strategies for the future.

You can read more about the Chair and keep track of activities on the Twitter feed: @UnescoChairLNU

Progress report 09/2017-08/2018

Developing heritage with focus on the future

"Within the global cultural heritage sector, great emphasis is put on saving cultural heritage from destruction. We believe that we must broaden this perspective and create a better understanding of what heritage does under various circumstances. We will ask questions like why these historical objects are to be preserved for the future and which societal challenges they may help the people of the future solving."

Cornelius Holtorf, Professor of Archaeology, UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures.

Current

Visiting the future

For the first time in the history of Kalmar Country Museum’s work with the time travel method, two groups of participants have been travelling to the year 2068, discussing future heritage and associated key questions about the present. This is one of a series of development projects commissioned by the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures.

There is a full report (in swedish) about the lessons learned, but also a short film documenting how a school class travelled to the future (and back). You can watch the film below.

What we do

Aims

It is often said that heritage is to be conserved for the benefit of future generations. The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures investigates what this may mean in the context of the inherent uncertainty of the future on the one hand and practices associated with different kinds of heritage on the other hand. How is the future being made through the 1972 World Heritage Convention, reconstructions of lost heritage, final repositories of nuclear waste, or the design of a message for the New Horizons spacecraft? When are the futures these practices work towards? How can we best determine what will benefit relevant future generations? What is the actual legacy we will leave behind? The Chair will support heritage practitioners in finding answers to these questions and in developing their own professional strategies for the future.

Some research and related activities of the Chair are funded as part of the AHRC funded Heritage Futures project based at University College London and directed by Professor Rodney Harrison. This work concerns the question how the uncertainty of the future is conceptualised and managed in various heritage practices and how such practices might be improved by learning from each other. In addition, the Chair will conduct research on other relevant topics, develop a training course on heritage futures for heritage managers around the world, and collaborate in various ways with UNESCO and associated bodies on relevant programmes.

Who we are

 

Dr Cornelius Holtorf, Professor of Archaeology and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University. Director of the Graduate School in Contract Archaeology (GRASCA).

Dr Anders Högberg, Professor of Archaeology at Linnaeus University. Special fields of interest are heritage studies and human cognitive evolution. Associated researcher in Heritage Futures, research on nuclear waste as future heritage.

PhD Students
Ulrika Söderström, PhD student at GRASCA – The Graduate School in Contract Archaeology at Linnaeus University. Special field of interest is use of heritage and archaeological knowledge in sustainable urban development.

Affiliated members
Dr Claudio Pescatore, nuclear engineer, previously at the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the OECD, special field of interest is the preservation of memory. Affiliated Researcher at Linnaeus University.

Dr Sarah May, based at University of Swansea, special field of interest is the way children are used in future discourse. Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Heritage Futures project.

 

 

More about UNESCO Chairs

What is a UNESCO Chair?

UNESCO Chairs were introduced by UNESCO in 1992. Their aim is to promote international cooperation between Universities and networking in key priority areas of UNESCO. There are today about 700 UNESCO Chairs in the world.

Logotype of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures