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Research policy on European Cultural Heritage and Global Change
Publication date: Mar 21, 2012 06:46 PM
Mar 21, 2012 12:00 AM
End: Apr 21, 2012 12:00 AM
May Cassar, Uta Staiger, 21 March 2012
Professor May Cassar
Centre for Sustainable Heritage
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Dr Uta Staiger
UCL European Institute
UCL, with the support of the European Institute, has contributed to setting the European research agenda relating to cultural heritage and global change. A UCL-led workshop held in December 2011 resulted in the Declaration on the Joint Programming Initiative 'Cultural Heritage and Global Change: A New Challenge for Europe' (The UCL Declaration). It was drafted by Professor May Cassar (UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage) and Dr Uta Staiger (UCL European Institute) on behalf of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which represents Europe's top 21 leading research-intensive universities.
Cultural heritage in the EU
In a multi-level polity such as the EU, where all political actors and institutions grasp the importance of strategic policy coordination and the sharing of valuable resources, the field of cultural heritage too now counts with a wide range of cooperation and advocacy mechanisms. This makes the sector, perhaps fragmented, but certainly a burgeoning field of policy intervention. While the EU itself continues to have only limited formal competences here, as it does in the cultural sector more generally, it has long supported the work of Member States, regional authorities and specialised networks to coordinate and advance their work on the protection and promotion of cultural heritage.
Indeed, since the Treaty of Maastricht (1993), the EU must treat the safeguarding of moveable and immoveable cultural heritage of European significance as a priority (now Art. 167). Although the EU is strictly bound by the subsidiarity principle, which only allows it to act where it can enhance actions by the Member States, who remain principally responsible for the area, cultural heritage has become a significant field of policy activity within the Union.
Cultural heritage research in the Union
A key aspect of such work is the promotion and coordination of pan-European research activities on cultural heritage, specifically where these aim to identify and develop strategies to characterise, protect and transmit cultural heritage assets. Faced with the impact of possibly unprecedented global change on Europe’s cultural patrimony, heritage research has over the last few decades become a focal point for decision-makers and specialised stakeholders alike. While the European Commission has supported such research since the mid-1980s, specifically under its Framework Programmes, the field has greatly gained with the entry into force of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which finally grants an explicit legal base (Art 179) for the adoption of measures necessary to implement a European Research Area.
In this context, the latest and arguably most significant initiative in the area to date is the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change.
Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change
Joint Programming provides a framework within which EU Member States jointly address areas where public research programmes may help respond to major societal challenges. While supported by the European Commission, it is a process led by national authorities and research councils, who effectively aim to coordinate their research activities in certain strategic areas. The Council of Ministers began the process by identifying 3 key areas, in which such joint programming initiatives were launched. The JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change is one of these.
The initiative covers not only tangible cultural heritage such as collections, buildings, archaeology and sites , but also intangible cultural heritage such as music, song and folklore associated with tangible objects, and ICT-related activities including the digitisation of cultural heritage assets and objects that are born digital.
While the Member States leading on this JPI have already drafted a Vision Document, in which they set out their shared goals, work has now started to define a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for the coming decade and to implement it through the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI).
The UCL-led workshop in December 2011, chaired by Professor May Cassar (UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage) and supported by the UCL European Institute, the UCL’s Grand Challenges, and the UCL European Research and Development Office (ERDO), resulted in a declaration and recommendations that are feeding directly into the further development of the Strategic Research Agenda for cultural heritage.
These have now been submitted to the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage & Activities (the Joint Programme's Coordinator) and the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (the Joint Programme Partner developing the SRA over the next year on behalf of the UK Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills).
UCL Declaration and Annex for download
Download the DECLARATION and the ANNEX here.