Distinctive feature of the IHS

The systematic constitution of Heritage Studies as a separate discipline was the aim of Prof. Dr. Marie-Theres Albert, the former chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in Heritage Studies at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. It was the driving force for her to establish the Institute Heritage Studies (IHS). As director of the IHS, she continues this paradigmatic orientation of Heritage Studies and sets new accents.

The distinctive feature of the IHS consists in the special positioning of Heritage Studies as a contributor to sustainable human development. For this purpose, it was necessary to clarify which disciplinary, inter- and/or trans-disciplinary approaches should be integrated into Heritage Studies, and which epistemological and methodological preferences could and should be assigned to them. Therefore, the unique feature of the IHS also consists in its successful positioning of the construct “heritage” under the conditions of globalization and its transformative processes, and to provide sustainable solution strategies for associated challenges. In terms of World Heritage, this was adopted in the publication “50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared Responsibility – Conflict and Reconciliation” with a critical reflection on the current state of international developments.

The Heritage Studies of the IHS broaden the understanding and perceptions of heritage beyond the usual narrowing of the term as tangible and intangible heritage in UNESCO linguistic usage. To this end, the Heritage Studies of the IHS integrate within the understanding of heritage its identity-building and peace-building potential. Therein also lies the understanding of sustainability of the IHS. Identity and sustainability require responsibility for heritage, and this in turn can only be implemented successfully, if the identity-bearing significance of heritage is transmitted to all heritage-concerned target groups and if these are integrated in the protection and use processes. Here we come to a full circle from previously isolated research approaches to heritage and their implementation. Fundamental theoretical approaches concerning this have been published already in 2013 in the book “Understanding Heritage”.