Institute of Archaeology


Horizon Europe funding for cultural heritage and climate change

16 November 2023

Rodney Harrison (UCL Institute of Archaeology), is part of a collaboration of 10 academic and cultural sector organisation partners in 6 countries who have won funding to research cultural heritage and climate change in the context of green transitions.

European Commission logo - blue flag with yellow stars on a white and grey background with the words European Commission written in grey text

The project - 'Petrocultures’ Intersections with The Cultural Heritage sector in the context of green transitions' (PITCH) - is co-financed by the EU Horizon Europe programme and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for a total of c.€3.3M. 

Image consisting of a black circle within which are building and landscape outlines and an arrow pointing to a green semi-circle to the right of this

It aims to explore how petrocultures - a term used to describe how social imaginaries, economic discourses and understandings of modernity are shaped by petroleum - are reflected in current heritage practices and how to reinterpret cultural heritage to facilitate whole of society transitions away from fossil fuels and towards just green energy infrastructures.  

Dolly Jørgensen, Professor of History and co-director of the Greenhouse Center for Environmental Humanities at University of Stavanger in Norway, who leads the project, said: 

We live in an oil-based society that affects all aspects of life, from what the clothes we wear are made of to how forestry is practiced. Our project works to make visible the unnoticed ties between heritage and petrocultures.”

Four innovative multi-site pilot interventions will provide a model for employing cultural heritage to creatively engage citizens to spur on environmentally-transformative shifts. The project will create two museum exhibitions, an interpretive biking trail, and public engagement events and workshops.

Rodney Harrison will lead the project’s international policy and practice interventions, which extends his previous work on heritage and climate change.

PITCH project infographic - small images within a green and yellow outlined speech bubble with blue arrows

This work has been undertaken as part of the Heritage Futures, Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change: Towards Integrated Cultural/Natural Heritage Decision Making, Reimagining Museums for Climate Action and Black Atlantic Innovation Network projects, Rodney's contributions to previous UNFCCC Climate Change Conferences of the Parties (COPs) and to Council of Europe Guidelines for Integrated Nature, Culture and Landscape Management

According to Rodney:

Heritage sites and museums do not simply reflect the histories of petrocultures. They are institutions that have helped to co-create and embed certain kinds of social, cultural and economic dispositions towards the extractive and exploitative behaviours that are at the heart of the climate crisis. We need to reimagine heritage and heritage practices to support the shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels and towards socially and ecologically just green transitions.”

The project will run from December 2023 to November 2027 and involves partners in Norway, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and UK.