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Edinburgh World Heritage/International/How ProPEACE is inspiring a new generation for the cultural heritage sector

How ProPEACE is inspiring a new generation for the cultural heritage sector

Krzysztof Chuchra

21st June 2018

Krzysztof Chuchra

At the same time as my colleagues were launching the young person’s heritage manifesto in Edinburgh in April, I was facilitating an interactive workshop on job opportunities in the cultural heritage sector with our ProPEACE students in Ravello, Italy.

What is ProPEACE?

As part of our international programme, Edinburgh World Heritage has been actively involved in the ProPEACE partnership for over a year. ProPEACE stands for Projet Patrimoine Européen pour un Avenir Culturel Ensemble, which translates to ‘European Heritage Project for a Cultural Future Together’.

ProPEACE is a strategic partnership involving ten partners from France, Iceland, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Italy, Canada, Israel and Scotland. The aim is to develop a universal language for conservation that may be applied and understood across Europe, helping to rethink the heritage approach. Academics and practitioners from within ProPEACE have been involved in organising study visits, delivering workshops and CPD sessions to students, and sharing insight on working in heritage management. ProPEACE will develop a teaching programme that will be managed by the Jean Monnet University in France.

Getting into heritage

Together with Dr Roel During from the University of Wageningen, we structured the Ravello workshop to give students practical insights into the sector, to encourage thinking about career development, and self-reflection to achieve personal growth. The discussion encouraged participants to take an active role and provide feedback to the facilitators in the spirit of “the wisdom of the crowd.”

The ProPEACE group has created an inventory of jobs in the heritage sector – such as exhibition designer, fund raiser, tour guide, heritage policy advisor, museum manager, conservation architect, heritage classifier, grants manager, archivist, researcher, and many, many more – and these were discussed with the students. It made me think about how universities can better work with the industry to prepare graduates to enter the labour market and make the best possible decision on specialisations that will ensure their future career growth.

After a short and constructive discussion, students identified several professional opportunities, including those being shaped by the rise of information technology and tourism.

The interactive part of the workshop included me applying for my current job, being interviewed by Roel and then the students. I received interesting feedback from the participants, especially on my body language (apparently they thought I looked nervous)!

Finally, one of the students was ‘head hunted’ by Anca Muntean from the Sibiu Chamber of Commerce to be interviewed for a virtual job as interpretation officer. This part of the workshop was followed by a discussion on qualities and skills required to achieve professional success.

Anca mock-interviews a student as part of the workshop

Some of the qualities listed included: creativity, empathy, coordination, being innovative, communicating well, being persistent and believing in your goals, pursuing hobbies relevant to your work, being organised, open-minded and critical, working well in a team and good at management your own time, being honest, open and entrepreneurial, being willing to learn and grow, and to ask lots of questions.

The workshop brought together students from ProPEACE’s partner countries – including France, Netherlands, Iceland, and Romania – half of whom were also in part-time employment, and all were eager to learn about job opportunities in the cultural heritage sector. At the end of the workshop Roel gave an example of the surprising outcome of an application procedure in which personal character, interest and engagements appeared to be more important than cognitive baggage. Anca in turn explained how to create your own job instead of applying for one that is posted on the job market. The workshop left everyone inspired.

The students will continue working on the Virtual Encyclopaedia of European Heritage, which describes European cultural heritage terms and as well as heritage sites, objects and practices. This will become a resource where visitors can explore ideas and critically reflect on the ways in which heritage is created.

“The interactive character of the workshop was highly appreciated by the students as well as the fact that a lively discussion took place about their own future,” says Roel. “It struck me that none of the students stood up when we ended the session – we could have continued on their matters and ideas for the rest of the afternoon. Their feedback was absolutely positive, they had experienced it as an awesome and inspirational event.”

More beautiful scenes from around Ravello