HERITAGE-PRO: A Fresh Perspective on Training for Interdisciplinary Cultural Heritage Skills

HERITAGE-PRO: A Fresh Perspective on Training for Interdisciplinary Cultural Heritage Skills

Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn, Managing Director of Kultur und Arbeit e.V., shares her experience and insights as Coordinator of HERITAGE-PRO. The Erasmus+ funded project offers a valuable framework in relation to the training of interdisciplinary skills for cultural heritage professionals, which will contribute to CHARTER's research and analysis.
CHARTER Alliance is not only supported by numerous institutions and stakeholders from the European cultural heritage community, it also benefits from numerous European training development projects. They feed with their training material into the CHARTER Alliance with cultural heritage skills. One of these projects is HERITAGE-PRO, an ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership project (2018-2021) which developed an interdisciplinary training scheme for professionals of different disciplines towards sustainable management and preservation of cultural heritage.
HERITAGE-PRO’s main objective is to upgrade the interdisciplinary competences of the workforce of heritage managers all over Europe in order to better valorise on expertise from different disciplines relevant for cultural heritage preservation.


Growing need in interdisciplinary cooperation

Cultural heritage management all over Europe is done in silos of knowledge as the disciplines are neither trained nor experienced to cooperate in a pre-defined and professional way. Formal education of art historians, restorers, conservators, craftspeople and cultural managers neglects skills that are essential in their professional life for successful and cost-efficient preservation activities. They are trained as specialists in their field but usually do not learn how to organise interdisciplinary knowledge and base preservation decisions on that. At the same time, heritage managers are faced with increasingly complex tasks, especially where cultural heritage is particularly threatened: by climate change, natural hazards or the effects of pandemics. The challenge is how to bring different disciplines, expertise, expectations and visions cooperatively together in order to avoid future repairs or a restricted use of a heritage site.

HERITAGE-PRO Graphic. Credits: Isabel Verdet (ENCATC).

The HERITAGE-PRO as well as the CHARTER Alliance team agree that there is an urgent need to develop an interdisciplinary training approach based on professional disciplines as well as social skills. A special need has risen during the last years by finding professional mechanisms for involving volunteers in the most satisfying way for them as well as for professionals. The interdisciplinary expert team of HERITAGE-PRO project developed:

    1. A multilingual vocational training scheme that takes place parallel to work with an interdisciplinary approach including all disciplines necessary for the successful management of preservation activities at heritage sites;
    2. Multilingual guidelines for heritage managers in order to give them support through challenging preservation processes;
    3. A multi-lingual training kit for easy uptake of the trainings scheme and make it accessible in the most efficient way;
    4. A concept for organising and implementing online training camps for future heritage managers as well as young craftspeople in the heritage preservation subject in European countries.

Direct target groups are young heritage professionals in transition from formal education to their first jobs in cultural heritage management, i.e. those who are going to be or who already are responsible in the field of cultural heritage preservation as site managers and professionals included in preservation tasks (architects, archaeologists, conservators, curators, art historians).

Indirect target groups are craftspeople working at heritage sites (e.g. people in master craftsmen education like installers, carpenters, masons), administrators and policymakers (government officials engaged in public agencies, who are involved in the planning process of heritage at local, regional and national level, politicians with a mandate for cultural heritage), urban and regional planning specialists, members of EU, national, regional and local non-governmental organizations and private sector, which are engaged in the field of heritage preservation and sustainable management, locals / volunteers e.g. in “circles of heritage friends”.


Capacity building for the cultural heritage sector

Conservation of Park Abbey, Leuven (Belgium). Picture by Karin Drda-Kühn.

The interdisciplinary capacity-building training scheme consists of five training modules with numerous exercises, good practices, recommendations and links to additional information

Training Module 1: Global Challenges and Opportunities in Cultural Heritage Field

Training Module 2: Efficient Team Working and Effective Interdisciplinary Conflict Resolution

Training Module 3: Valorisation of Cultural Heritage

Training Module 4: Participation in Cultural Heritage Preservation

Training Module 5: Effective Communication in an Interdisciplinary Environment

It trains cultural heritage managers in understanding the different mind-sets and expectations of actors related to the preservation of European cultural heritage. The training scheme is organized as a seminar of six half-day units. It can be offered by a professional training provider as vocational training in parallel to work, during the week or on weekends. The training modules are ready for download on the HERITAGE-PRO website and can also be done as a self-learning course. The training is available in English, German and Spanish.

Two complementary documents – Guidelines and a Training Kit – are also available on this home-page. The Guidelines include interviews and good interdisciplinary practices from heritage experts all over Europe. The Training Kit is a practical ready-to-use tool which includes a set of templates for many interdisciplinary processes (from the organisation of interdisciplinary events to the drafts of press releases and a communication plan).


HERITAGE-PRO as a contributor for CHARTER          

HERITAGE-PRO is first and foremost a training programme in its own rights to upskilll cultural heritage skills, as it is primarily aimed at young heritage managers and young master craftspeople who are at the beginning of their careers and want to acquire further knowledge while working. For CHARTER, the training with its interdisciplinary approach meets a particularly important need, because heritage-related skills are based on experience, not only on knowledge from formal education.

Two of the participating institutions from HERITAGE-PRO are also partners in the CHARTER project, i.e. Kultur und Arbeit – Association Culture & Work (the German HERITAGE-PRO coordinator) and ENCATC, the European network on cultural management and policy based in Brussels (Belgium).  In addition, other people from HERITAGE-PRO partners are involved as members of the CHARTER advisory board to ensure that the HERITAGE-PRO experiences can be incorporated into CHARTER.



HERITAGE-PRO is implemented by a high-class partnership of six European institutions, companies and networks from Germany, Spain, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, all active in vocational training for the preservation of cultural heritage closing herewith the gap of interdisciplinary training in the field.

Impact is expected on local, regional, national and European level for better-synchronized preservation activities, improved cost efficiency for public and private heritage owners by avoiding wrong decisions of preservation issues and better understanding of the importance of sustainable efforts for Europe’s cultural heritage.

Long-term benefits are expected for the target groups in an upgrade of professional expertise and cultural heritage skills, in protecting existing employment and creating new and better-qualified employment. This will strengthen and consolidate Europe’s outstanding and unique position in heritage preservation world-wide.


Project partners:

Kultur und Arbeit e.V. / Germany – www.kultur-und-arbeit.de, heritage-pro@kultur-und-arbeit.de

Restrade AB / Sweden – www.restrade.se

Asociación Española de Gestores de Patrimonio Cultural AEGPC / Spain – www.aegpc.org

European Network on Cultural management policy ENCATC / Belgium – www.encatc.org

Entwicklungsagentur Rheinland-Pfalz / Germany – www.ea.rlp.d

Institute of Property Research IPRE / Austria – www.ipre.at



For further information contact HERITAGE-PRO Coordinator, Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn: heritage-pro@kultur-und-arbeit.de


Featured image: Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany). Picture by Masood Aslami.

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