Yale Leads Effort to Protect Cultural Heritage

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In today’s world, cultural heritage — a term Yale University President Peter Salovey referred to as “the essential record of humanity” — is increasingly under attack by threats ranging from climate change, terrorism, theft, mass tourism, and war. Historic buildings, monuments, landscapes, works of art, artifacts, folklore, traditions, and even indigenous languages are disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate.

Yale is leading the formation of a new organization that will be a catalyst and convener for universities and museums working on the preservation of cultural heritage. During its launch in Milan, Italy, the Global Consortium for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (GCPCH) gathered faculty experts and international university officials — including Yale’s Mary Miller, Sterling Professor of the History of Art and senior director of the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) at Yale’s West Campus, and Stefan Simon, director, Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives — to determine next steps for advancing GCPCH’s mission. Formation of the GCPCH was proposed at the eighth United Nations Global Colloquium of University Presidents, which was held at Yale in 2016. The mission and strategy of the consortium were outlined in the New Haven Declaration issued at that gathering.

The two-day initial meeting of GCPCH was attended by 36 international university officials and faculty experts from around the world and hosted by Bocconi University. It kicked off with an address by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who reviewed the recent work of UNESCO and others to preserve cultural heritage.

“Knowledge-sharing mobilizes all stakeholders at a global level,” said Bokova. “Together we need to reinforce the networks and build more bridges between all actors.”

Stefano Baia Curioni, vice-president ASK Research Center of Bocconi University, commented on what an honor it was for Bocconi to host the meeting.

“It is with great pleasure that we convene such a distinguished set of leaders who bring so many valuable points of view on challenges related to the preservation of cultural heritage,” Baia Curioni said. “We know how important the work of this body is to advancing our collective work, and are honored to support such efforts.”

During the meeting, participants determined that the primary focus of the GCPCH must be to serve as a catalyst for education, research, and advocacy on the preservation of cultural heritage. They agreed that the mission of GCPCH is to aggregate and share knowledge and to facilitate relationships between the parties that seek to protect various forms of cultural heritage worldwide. More specifically, GCPCH will create a map of degree-granting and non-degree education programs, internship and field experiences, research projects, and funding sources.

For updates on future activities, including dates for the next organizational meeting in 2018, follow GCPCH on Twitter at @GCPCH, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GlobalCPCH.

To learn more about recent work at Yale, visit the website of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.