The Heritage Values, Stakeholders and Consensus Building project aims to advance the ability of heritage professionals to constructively engage with stakeholders by bridging conservation and public dispute resolution practices through a program of research, application, and dissemination.
The components of this project include:
In 1998 the GCI commenced Research on the Values of Heritage a project examining the role of values and economics in heritage conservation and management. The initial work of this project resulted in three publications: Values and Heritage Conservation, Economics and Heritage Conservation, and Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage.
During the second phase of work on the project (2001 to 2003), the GCI developed and published four case studies illustrating the role of values in site management, with examples describing and analyzing the processes that connect theoretical management guidelines with management planning and its practical application. The cases resulted from collaboration among professionals from the Australian Heritage Commission, Parks Canada, English Heritage, the U.S. National Park Service, and the GCI. The cases examined management at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in the United States, Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site in Canada, Port Arthur Historic Site in Australia, and Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site in England.
An important issue raised in this earlier work is the necessity for heritage practitioners to engage with the range of stakeholders and other authorities who attach importance to heritage places. This ensures a shared understanding of the collective values of a place and helps produce better conservation outcomes. The values and priorities that stakeholders attribute to heritage places are at times in conflict, and heritage professionals must try to facilitate a resolution that is in the interest of conservation. Heritage practitioners therefore need skills and practical, proven strategies for negotiation, building consensus, resolving conflicts, and ultimately reaching lasting agreements.
The field of public policy consensus building and dispute resolution has been developing and applying strategies to a wide range of international contexts for more than two decades. This work has included extensive application to arenas related to heritage practice, such as environmental and land use disputes, urban planning, international development, community relations, resource management, and public policy making. Remarkably, its application to the practice of heritage conservation has been limited. The Heritage Values, Stakeholders and Consensus Building project aims to bridge this gap.
In their efforts to preserve and protect heritage places, managers, planners, and other decision makers are often required to engage with a multiplicity of stakeholders and their frequently conflicting interests, values, and identities, as well as address clashes arising from cultural differences. Heritage practitioners must also often deal with a range of governmental authorities, which sometimes have overlapping mandates.
Although the skills required for negotiation, building consensus, resolving conflicts, and reaching lasting agreements are required of heritage decision makers, little if any written guidance specific to heritage conservation management exists, and educational and training curricula for heritage professionals typically do not address these skills.
To address this gap the Heritage Values, Stakeholders and Consensus Building project seeks to: help heritage practitioners more effectively engage with stakeholders and other authorities in the conservation and management of heritage places; and explore and promote the application of concepts, strategies, and expertise in consensus building, negotiation, and conflict resolution to heritage place conservation and management.
Last updated: March 2010