Una Europa, European university alliance, brings together 8 major European universities: Freie Universität Berlin; Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna; Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie; University of Edinburgh; Helsingin Yliopisto; KU Leuven; Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Una Europa is among the first European Universities funded by the European Commission (1Europe project, 2019-2022). It is Una Europa’s goal to form a truly European university environment, where excellence in interdisciplinary research is closely connected to transnational learning as well as innovative problem-solving. Due to their importance for European research, but also for facing contemporary European challenges and responding to pressing societal needs, Una Europa has defined 5 focus areas, including Cultural Heritage (CH), for the development of international mobility, educational and research projects.
The Cultural Heritage focus area is supervised by a Self-Steering Committee (SSC), formed by academics from the 8 universities and coordinated by Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. The SSC of CH develops, implements and tests 4 “Joint Innovative Formats” (JIFs) for education and mobility: Joint PhD, Joint PhD Workshops, Lifelong Learning Certificates and CH Chairs. The JIFs aim at developing long-lasting collaborations not only between partner universities, but also with leading public, private and civil society stakeholders.
Current national and European political impetus, as well as the importance of cultural heritage in European research agenda, represent opportunities for the development of these formats, while some of the added values of their development lie in: transdisciplinarity (offering insights and collaboration of different disciplines and methodologies in CH); internalization of learning (including 8 national cultures and beyond); international networking and co-creation of the transnational research ecosystem in CH together by professors and students; collaborating with and learning from European professionals from the CH sector; multilingualism; creation of European professional profiles tailored to the current needs; high quality educational material; student-centred program; professional development for staff and researchers; innovation: intellectual one, but also in format, administration, doctoral education and alternative forms of transnationalism (digital and virtual).
In the early stages of Una Europa’s Self-Steering Committee’s in Cultural Heritage work on these 4 JIFs, we also realized that our aim is to move beyond a simple curriculum, workshop or project and to create a place of exchange and regular interaction – a transdisciplinary, transnational and trans-sectoral ecosystem in cultural heritage, consisting not only of professors from Una Europa universities, but also researchers, students and heritage professionals. This ecosystem will also serve as a basis for all our future projects and collaborations.
With the objective to operationalize its development, we defined a limited number of initial interdisciplinary CH research themes to serve as a basis for the creation of transnational research teams. The themes and the related teams are conceived as dynamic and moving parts of the ecosystems. They intend to follow and reflect the evolution of the research themes of the professors and PhD students of Una Europa universities, as well as the evolutions in the Cultural Heritage field. In a bottom-up approach – after conducting a thorough mapping of cultural heritage research, teaching and learning in our 8 universities, and having in mind the global trends in the cultural heritage field, namely, 2014 Strategic Research Agenda of the JPI and other EU priorities, we defined 4 interdisciplinary CH research themes to serve as a basis for the creation of transnational research teams: Cultural Heritage in the context of Migrations and Global Mobilities, Digitization of Society, Cultural Heritage. Social Capital, Mutuality and Volunteering, and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage. The definition of the 4 topics is dynamic and will follow the evolution of the transnational research teams.
In order with the subjects stablished to study the Cultural Heritage from different perspectives, the Research Seminar 25.05.2022 exposes the matters behind Safeguarding Cultural Heritage. From a global perspective, the seminar approached Cultural Heritage as a finite resource, under threat from natural decay, deliberate destructions, or disinterest, from being undervalued or overexploited. These issues are exaggerated by the climate crisis, greater needs for financial gains, and increasingly disenfranchised communities. Under this theme, we study the material remains to let our understanding of their makings inform their sustainable conservation, but we also study intangible or dynamic heritages still in-the-making to validate solutions for the protection of knowledge and practice. Safeguarding cultural heritage is also about what this means, to be “safe” and who the "guards" are, and how we can help them guarding.