There is a long tradition of collaboration between researchers and others in the heritage sector. Recent years have seen further rapid growth in co-operative research and training initiatives. It is important to strengthen these links to enhance our ability to protect heritage and understand its cultural, social and economic value within our plural society.
The Heritage 2020 Discovery, Identification and Understanding group has led work on mapping connectivity between the two sectors, exploring the nature of collaborations and surveying the sector on how collaboration can be extended and strengthened.
In 2017, a scoping study was undertaken by Newcastle University, with support from AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) to develop a picture of connectivity between the UK heritage sector and UK higher education sector. The study used data from REF Impact Case Studies (from 2014) to look at where connections exist, what form they take, the geography of connections, and whether there are patterns in their depth or longevity.
In July 2019, the DIU working group hosted a heritage chat (hour-long twitter chat) that focused on issues raised by the report and explored how we can strengthen research collaborations between the two sectors. You can read a summary of it here.
In addition to the Heritage Chat, the group ran a survey to find out what people thought about the report’s findings and recommendations, and what type of support could help to strengthen and extend collaboration. The survey results supported the report’s findings and showed great enthusiasm for increased collaboration between the two sectors. However, rather than producing ‘toolkits’ or packages of support aimed at increasing collaboration, it was suggested that improved communication between the two sectors lies at the heart of increasing collaboration. You can read a summary of the survey findings here: Summary of survey on how to strengthen and extend research collaboration between HEIs and the heritage sector.
Building on this work, a heritage chat in June 2020 explored how collaboration between the heritage sector, higher education institutions and community groups can be further strengthened. Read a summary of the chat here.