In May 2018, we held a workshop at EU House in London to share some of the insights from our work on building a living curriculum for Cultural Hertiage, with a particular focus on intangible cultural heritage and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ). In putting together the hands-on workshop, we were inspired by Jyoti Hosagrahar’s (Director of the Division of Creativity at UNESCO) recent comment that ‘It is no longer a question of whether intangible cultural heritage should be integrated in university programmes, but rather how’. We invited international UK based policy makers, educators, students, practitioners and researchers to participate in this unique workshop as key contributors. The workshop functioned as a call to arms to gather together to co-create engaging lifelong learning experiences for students and educators in higher education in Egypt, the UK, and elsewhere.
We used a series of design challenges in Digital Technology, Cultural Heritage and Education to introduce participants to the merging of ideas from intangible cultural heritage and STEM and Education. The challenges remixed those used with students as part of the Hilali Summer School in Egypt ran by our Egyptian lead Dr Shaimaa Lazem and UK researcher Dr Danilo Giglitto. These summer school activities are now embedded in The Hilali Toolkit. The challenges had the overall aim to action the building of Living Curricula in these areas – which we started to do at the end of day.
Design Challenge 1 was focused on digital technology and we initiated thinking about this early on through the use of a cultural probe. For those who don’t know, a cultural probe is a technique that sees the use of material (in this case, an email sent prior to the event) to inspire people’s responses about their thoughts and experiences. We have used this activity when working with students around technology and cultural heritage topics so we thought it would be good to model this for the workshop. The aim was to facilitate our key contributors’ subsequent experiences in the activities of the workshop. We wanted to everyone to identify and raise their own awareness of the influence of perceptions, cultures, and backgrounds in digital technology. The question sent to everyone was: What in your opinion are the main challenges to the use of technology in supporting cultural heritage projects?
We had some great feedback that Design Challenge 2, which honed in on Cultural Heritage and power dynamics, was particularly enjoyed by all. In this activity, we invited contributors to consider the stakeholders and beneficiaries in our own project, The Hilali Network, and place them in a series of concentric circles reflecting the distribution of power and benefits. There were three teams working together on this and the results were all different and reflected the ideal and realistic nature of cultural heritage community projects.
Design challenge 3 got into the meat of the workshop to start drafting out living curricula. This is where our more specific Educational lens came into play. We used headers from our Hilali Toolkit and invited teams to complete a narrative for one particular activity for Higher Education and Intangible Cultural Heritage, where digital technology could also play a role. Two quite different activities were drafted one based on intergenerational interpretations of cultural heritage in a local area and the other on Protecting gastronomic heritage.
As well as a speed-dating session which was predictably loud and energetic, there were provocations by Hilali Network associate partners Dr Tania Fonseca, Prof Linda Price and Prof Peter Stone. They helped set the scene for big questions on the role of digital technology and education in developing agendas around cultural heritage activity. Based on a synthesis of the cultural probe responses by Prof Linda Price, Dr Fonseca presented 8 thematic areas which appeared to inform and grow out of contributors’ responses.
The workshop was designed with the aim of providing a cross-disciplinary space for the co-creation of tools, ideas and projects in Cultural Heritage and STEM. Together with our new contributors, the outcomes of the workshop will be integrated into open educational resources in The Hilali Toolkit, which can be used in Higher Education as well as with communities of adult learners in formal and informal learning contexts internationally.
We would like to especially thank Friends of the workshop, the Teaching Excellence Alliance, who supported dissemination of the event and its preparations.
The workshop was officially recognised as part of the UK celebrations by the European Commission during the European Year of Cultural Heritage #EYCH18 which is promoting the role of Europe’s cultural heritage and its importance to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. The year includes events and initiatives across the UK and the rest of Europe to encourage people to explore and debate Europe’s rich and diverse cultural heritage (tangible, intangible, natural, digital and all types of cultural activities).
The workshop was supported as part of the Newton Fund, part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, whose primary focus is to develop partner countries research and innovation capacity for longterm sustainable growth.