UNITA’s Cultural Heritage Hub is one of the three hubs, together with Circular Economy and Renewable Energies, each one of them corresponding to one of the three Axes in which research activities in UNITA universities have been divided. Each hub is led by a ‘Task Force’, constituted by researchers representing the member universities. Their very first job was, indeed, to chart the different research projects in the Alliance, via a Call of Expression of Interest addressed to all researchers, held in January 2021. This resulted in a cartography of 267 CH projects, grouped into the following themes and sub-themes:
- Study and preservation of tangible CH:
visual arts, monuments and buildings, archaeological sites, palaeontology, industrial archaeology, places of memory, museums and collections, art conservation and restoration, legislation for the protection of cultural and natural heritage
- Intangible CH and identity narratives:
oral traditions, romance languages and literature, performing arts (music, dance, drama), rituals, travels, cultural identity, religion, collective and individual memory, migrations, vulnerable communities, gender studies, transnational history, values, human rights
- Enhancement and dissemination of cultural and natural heritage:
tourism and valorisation, education, communication, heritage management, digitisation/digital tools, storytelling, institutions and heritage
- Innovation policies for the development of marginalised areas:
natural heritage and cultural landscapes, climate impact on mountain/rural areas, flora, agriculture, and landscape, culture and food, fauna, livestock farming and biodiversity
A second Call of Expression of Interest was launched on the 31st of January 2022 and is still ongoing. This second CEI aims at including new projects, in particular from the four universities that recently joined UNITA as Associate Members. On this occasion, UNITA’s cartography was made available on public access, thus increasing the visibility of UNITA research projects within the academic community at large.
On 14th & 15th October 2021, the first CH Hub’s workshop was held at the University of Turin. Some of the projects were briefly presented and discussed, and researchers had the opportunity of networking, paving the ground for research partnerships which have since been developing.
Current and future activities include:
- Fostering the research network established among member universities, by continuing to help to share the information on current research by way of initiatives such as weekly online presentations, an online UNITA CH Forum for discussion and a participative CH Events Calendar page.
- Inscribing the UNITA CH research network within larger CH research networks, in particular within the European Community.
- Creating partnerships with institutions other than universities and in particular with CH organizations that ground research on territories, establishing the link between academic research and local communities.
- Involving young researchers (PhD students) and training research-oriented undergraduates by organizing: international summer/winter schools, ‘Blended Intensive Programmes’ rooted in the different member universities’ (mountain) territories, online courses of introduction to research skills in CH, etc.