In Workshops

Unlocking the Power of Community Engagement: HERITΛGE Workshops Lead the Way

Community Engagement online workshop screenshot

In a rapidly changing world, the role of community engagement has never been more critical for cultural heritage. HERITΛGE’s mission is to empower heritage managers with the skills and knowledge needed to make a difference through community engagement. Our recent three-day workshop equipped 16 heritage professionals from around the world with the tools to engage with their communities, bridge cultural differences, and preserve our shared heritage.

Community engagement is not just a buzzword; it’s the linchpin of heritage preservation. HERITΛGE recognizes that communities are not monolithic entities; they are diverse, dynamic, and rich with unique traditions, perspectives, and values. To truly honor these differences, a cookie-cutter approach won’t suffice. We believe in the power of community-led initiatives and social research to foster engagement that resonates with the specific cultural and social dynamics of each group.

Our recent workshop, held from 27 to 29 October 2023, brought together heritage managers from Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe. These dedicated professionals were not just participants; they were change-makers in the making. Through a combination of lectures, discussions, and hands-on exercises, they delved into the heart of community engagement, exploring methodologies grounded in ethnography and oral history.

Understanding Community Engagement as a Process

One of the key takeaways from the workshop was the profound understanding of community engagement as a dynamic process over time. Participants learned that this approach is not just a strategy but a fundamental aspect of heritage management.

Overcoming Key Challenges

Working with local communities can be challenging, and the workshop equipped our participants with essential knowledge about the primary obstacles they may encounter. With this understanding, they are better prepared to navigate these challenges effectively.

Creating Tailored Engagement Initiatives

The workshop’s focus on understanding the unique traits, requirements, and capacities of different communities was a game-changer. Participants left with the skills to develop engagement initiatives that are specific to each community’s distinct characteristics, needs, and capacities.

Distinguishing Between Communities and Audiences

One of the key lessons learned was the importance of distinguishing between communities and audiences. This insight is invaluable in designing engagement strategies that resonate with each group.

Introduction to Ethnographic Approaches

The workshop introduced participants to ethnographic methodologies, fostering the creation of collaborative research-driven community engagement initiatives. This hands-on experience allowed them to understand the communities they work with on a much deeper level.

Oral History Techniques

Oral history, a powerful tool for eliciting and documenting both tangible and intangible heritage, was another focal point of the workshop. Participants acquired knowledge about the methods and techniques used in oral history, making them proficient in preserving and sharing heritage through storytelling.

A Deeper Appreciation for Heritage

Throughout the workshop, participants gained a profound appreciation for the inherent values associated with heritage. They left with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to preserving our cultural and natural treasures.

What’s Next?

The journey doesn’t end with the workshop. A follow-up tutorial session is scheduled for 6 November, offering participants the opportunity to seek guidance, ask questions, and receive expert advice on enhancing their final assignments.

Meet the Instructors

The HERITΛGE workshops were led by a team of expert instructors:

  • Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis, the founding Director of HERITΛGE, brings a wealth of knowledge in Mycenaean administration, Minoan religion, and iconography.
  • Dr. Aris Anagnostopoulos, manager of community engagement programs, specializes in the politics and poetics of the material aspects of the past in the present.
  • Dr. Eleni Stefanou, manager of programs in Ghana, is an archaeologist and specialist in museum and heritage studies.

At HERITΛGE, as we look to the future, we are excited to see the impact these dedicated professionals will make in their respective regions and the global heritage community.

HERITΛGE also offers an annual summer school in community engagement. Find out more and apply here.



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