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Consensus Building Workshop

In December 2009 the GCI's Heritage Values, Stakeholders, and Consensus Building project gathered a small group of conservation professionals for a three-day workshop at the Getty Center, facilitated by the Consensus Building Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This workshop explored the use of consensus building, negotiation, and conflict resolution in the management of cultural heritage places.

workshop participants

The field of public policy consensus building and dispute resolution has been developing and applying strategies in a wide range of international contexts for more than two decades, including extensive work in 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, application of these strategies to the practice of heritage conservation has been limited, despite the fact that such approaches can help conservation professionals deal constructively with the diverse interests and values attributed to heritage, which often conflict.

The GCI workshop aimed to help bridge the practices of the conservation and consensus building fields and built upon the Institute’s long-term work in addressing the values of heritage. Topics discussed included typifying the range of issues and challenges in heritage management that require consensus building approaches; reviewing concepts and strategies in the practice of consensus building, negotiation, and conflict resolution; and discussing participant case studies examining related challenges and strategies.

The workshop produced a number of related recommendations, including the development of guidelines for heritage practitioners on working with stakeholders, the inclusion of methods for dealing with stakeholders in heritage training and educational curricula, and the development of related didactic materials. Proceedings from the workshop will be published and posted to the project's Web site.

The Heritage Values, Stakeholders, and Consensus Building project seeks to help heritage practitioners engage more effectively with stakeholders and other authorities in the conservation and management of heritage places and to explore and promote the application of concepts, strategies, and expertise in consensus building, negotiation, and conflict resolution to heritage place conservation and management.

For more information on the Heritage Values, Stakeholders, and Consensus Building project, visit the GCI Web site.