Distinctive feature of the IHS

The systematic constitution of Heritage Studies as a separate discipline was the aim of the UNESCO Chair in Heritage Studies at the BTU Cottbus headed by the Chairholder Marie-Theres Albert (→ Heritage Studies – Constructing a Field of Research / → The Cottbus Declaration on Heritage Studies). She proceeds strengthening this paradigm as director of the “Institut Heritage Studies” (IHS). Constructing Heritage Studies as separate discipline is the key quality that differentiates the IHS from other heritage institutions, concepts or training and further education programmes. This also applies to relevant research. The selling point of the IHS consists, furthermore, in its inter- and disciplinarily oriented concept. It consists also in the special positioning of Heritage Studies as a contributor to sustainable human development in the scientific discourse, with which the IHS can do justice to the diverse phenomena of heritage. For this purpose it was necessary to clarify which disciplinary, inter- and / or trans-disciplinary discourses should be integrated into Heritage Studies and which epistemological and methodological preferences can and should be assigned to them. Therefore, the unique feature of the IHS is also that Marie-Theres Albert was able to position the construct of heritage under the conditions of globalization and its transformative processes (→ Heritage Interpretation in a Globalized World (Keynote)Globalization and cultural diversity) and to provide solution strategies for associated challenges.

Based on the conceptual preliminary studies of the UNESCO Chair headed by Maie-Theres Albert, the Heritage Studies of IHS broadens the understanding and the perceptions of heritage beyond the usual narrow use of the term by UNESCO, and it positions heritage meaningfully within human development. The protection and use of heritage have, in the understanding of the IHS, the potential for the formation of identity and thereby of peace (→ Culture, Heritage and Identity). IHS’s understanding of sustainability lies exactly there. Identity and sustainability require responsibility for heritage, and this in turn can only be implemented successfully if all heritage-concerned target groups are integrated in protection and use processes. Here we come full circle from previously isolated, research approaches to heritage and its implementation.

The Heritage Studies of IHS positions itself as a critical discipline that, on the one hand, processes its research questions and subjects inter- and/or transdisciplinarily. On the other hand, it relates directly to diverse, evolving conditions of daily life. This includes positioning the knowledge interest in the context of the diversity of our world. It also means reflecting the diversity of the world in the approaches and methods of Heritage Studies, without becoming arbitrary. Not least, it means developing strategies for the future, such as for a sustainable handling of heritage. In other words it is not about abstract knowledge gain, rather explicitly about conceptualizing Heritage Studies paradigmatically for human development how it has been presented f.i. paradigmatically and epistemologically through the publication “Understanding Heritage”.

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