UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Sascha Olinsson

Thesis title: How to advance sustainable management of the archaeological heritage – introducing social entrepreneurship to heritage management

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Kalliopi Fouseki
Secondary Supervisor: Professor May Cassar
Project start date: 1 June 2015
Project completion date: 1 June 2019

Current management for heritage sites are failing, resulting in the slow but steady decay of our cultural heritage. Initially, the cause seems clear; public funding has been dwindling for decades and is consequently now insufficient to maintain and preserve the sites. That funding for culture has been under- prioritized is inarguably in part due to tighter national budgets. However, it can be argued that this under- prioritizing has been a consequence of the inability of heritage management to transform their mediation strategies according to modern expectations and thus gain a beneficial position for sites within society. This project is hence concerned with saving our heritage for future generations through developing a strategy for sustainable management of heritage sites. In order to gain a modern position in society, sustainable management is understood as resting on three interdependent pillars of social, cultural and economic sustainability. For the purpose of merging these three pillars in one strategy, the project will explore two suitable concepts; open-air museum mediation concepts, as developed in “best practice” sites in Denmark and England and social entrepreneurship practices. Undeveloped heritage sites in the South of Italy will be utilized as case studies in order to test the practical application. Employing an action research strategy, the project will investigate (i) the employment of open–air museum mediation strategies in developing a “sustainable cultural product” and (ii) the functionality of these mediation approaches in combination with social entrepreneurial strategies for site management. The purpose is to provide (a) an integrated picture of the mediation strategies employed by “best practice” sites and (b) practical learning of the implementation process of the combined strategies and (c) concrete recommendation for social entrepreneurial management strategies.


Sascha Olinsson has a highly relevant background in her two Master degrees alternately in Classical Archaeology and museology studies (2010) and “Project Management and Organisation for Sustainability” (2012). This background gives her a unique insight into the problems which heritage sites face today and the inner dynamics which for long have inhibited the field. Years of practical experience in the archaeological field led Sascha to the realization that a new approach to heritage management was needed in order to gain the sites the necessary tools to be able to sustainably preserve themselves. Sascha has utilized her unique educational background to design a specialization for herself as “Cultural Resource Manager for sustainable development”, integrating her skills and knowledge from archaeology with social entrepreneurship and management. In 2012 Sascha cooperated with a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve in Sweden on the establishment of social entrepreneurship criteria for the “biosphere entrepreneur”; a new concept which the management of the site intend to incorporate in the coming years. The cooperation culminated in the development of the report: The concept of Biosphere entrepreneurship; a review and suggestions for the future. In 2013 Sascha Worked as research assistant at Copenhagen Business school, Centre for Leisure and Cultural services. During this year she researched and developed several project proposals and refined her goals for her future career leading her to pursue a PhD position at Institute for sustainable heritage at UCL. 

Publications and other work

The living museum: Theory converted in praxis.The case of the Ara Pacis. MA thesis

Revealing faces: Imperial portraits and political symbolism. MA thesis

The concept of Biosphere entrepreneurship- A review and suggestions for the future. MA thesis