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Heritage values in education

Jun 12, 2014

Since 2009 the archaeological heritage management chairgroup (AHM-Leiden University) offers a master specialisation on heritage management issues. The specialisation (provided by prof. Willem Willems, Dr. Monique van den Dries and Dr. Sjoerd van der Linde, all H@V network partners) consists of two blocks of lectures and discussion meetings, an internship and a master thesis. Annually 30 or more master students take part of the course as an elective, another 15 take the entire specialisation, including an internship and a thesis. These students come from all over the world, as all master courses are taught in English at Leiden University. The course programme therefore is internationally oriented. It is all about heritage issues in a global context.

Heritage values, the interests of stakeholders and the relation of archaeologists with society are an important element of the course. We had for instance some very inspiring guest lectures by Tim Williams (UCL) in the last couple of years. He shared with our students the experiences that he gathered in Turkmenistan.

We train our students not just in taking a critical and reflective attitude, we also have a strong emphasis on the practical implementation of methods and theory. We want our students to be able to put things in practice once they have finished their training with us. For that purpose we involve them in assessing the approaches that we apply in our own field projects, and they conduct an exercise on heritage values, in line with the nice didactic case study of the Getty Conservation Institute (2010). They select a site they know from fieldwork and identify its stakeholders and their interests and values. Moreover they practice with defining a statement of significance, and with making a plan to incorporate stakeholders in the management of such an archaeological site.

Students highly value these kinds of practical assignments. They discover that it can be quite complex to define values from different perspectives and to deal with conflicting interests, that learning about standards and codes of conduct is one thing, but applying them something totally different, that it is easy to think of tourism as an economic asset, but what about the social value for others from the local community? Some also discover that they cannot do such an exercise on their own and they actually initiate a conversation with stakeholders. We also learn from it, especially from their creativity and ability to think out of the box.

Some students are so excited about the topic that they focus in their master thesis research on heritage values and the interests of stakeholders. We had for instance a study on the possibility to include the interests of the public and especially the educational value of heritage in the valuation and selection process of traces and remains from the Second World War that are recovered by means of archaeological research. An impression of this research can be seen in this video.

As today’s’ students will be tomorrow’s heritage managers, we aim to include our students as much as possible in current research, such as in the activities and results of the heritage values network. The content of our course is already inspired by the research that is conducted within the heritage values network and the discussions in the blogs, but we would like to accomplish that students take part in the researches that will be initiated by this network as well.


Monique van den Dries,

Associate professor and coordinator of the heritage management master specialisation



D. Myers, S.N. Smith, M. Shaer, 2010, A didactic case study of Jarash archaeological site, Jordan: stakeholders and heritage values in site management. The Getty Conservation Institut & Department of Antiquities Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


One Response to “Heritage values in education”

  1. Krijn Boom says:

    As a former student of the Master specialisation Monique mentioned, I’m very proud to say I learned a lot in this inspiring course and now have a PhD position in the Heritage Management chairgroup.

    The valuation of cultural heritage through stakeholder analysis is a very important and meaningfull process, especially in non-Western countries where various values, ideas and meanings are often in conflict with each other. For example, I did my Masters Thesis on the rehabilitation through the reconstruction of Cultural Heritage in Post-war Yugoslavia. I found that different interests in the reconstruction of heritage (mainly the Western versus non-Western values) are not so easily intermixed and often lead to conflict.

    The Heritage Values Network is a very interesting and inspiring programme with, in my opinion, a subject which can’t be studied enough!

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