The Consortium and its members

The Heritage Consortium is coordinated by the History Department at the University of Hull and consists of Bradford, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds Beckett, Northumbria, Sheffield Hallam, and Teesside universities. We work in strategic partnership with eight regional, national and international heritage organisations and networks, as well as with a wider network of over 70 partner organisations, to deliver doctoral training and to promote research in all aspects of heritage. The Consortium was established in 2013 and is supported by £1.85 million of postgraduate funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and £1.11 million provided by its seven members.

The Consortium embraces an inclusive, open-ended approach to heritage research, and have designed structures intended to maximise cross-fertilisation and open dissemination of innovative ideas and good practice. However, we also believe that there is strength in the combination of different institutions, with individual missions and local populations, since it is through this diversity that new ideas and approaches will emerge. Each member brings recognised strengths in one or more key fields of research expertise and doctoral training. These strengths are supplemented by additional expertise complementing that at other member institutions.

Strategy and vision

The Consortium’s goal is to train the next generation of heritage professionals and researchers and to meet national needs by renewing the skills reservoir in threatened areas, as well as fostering new skills vital to the future of heritage provision and its ability to contribute to economic regeneration. Recognition that heritage is complex and contested is central to the Consortium’s ethos and informs its multi- and interdisciplinary approach.

Whether as professionals in the field of heritage practices, or as academics in its various intellectual fields, any student working with heritage must understand its various potential meanings and contexts. Even those working in extremely technical/scientific elements of heritage (conservation sciences, practical archaeology) must be reflective practitioners who understand why they do what they do; and they must also recognize the various contexts in which their scientific practices take place. As a conservative list, such contexts might easily include the understanding of public history; the management of landscape and built environment sites (both for tourism and for conservation, often in conflict with each other); planning legislation; funding arrangements and constraints from government and other sources; local and national government policy contexts as well as the concerns of international organizations such as UNESCO and the EU. Heritage professionals and academics must be trained to ask the big questions (why do we preserve what we do? Why are some inheritances not preserved? Can the past be relevant today?) and to focus on the ethical considerations of the present’s debt to the future. We believe that the group we have assembled has the right combination of knowledge to provide a highly-qualified practitioner base for the future of heritage as well as the intellectual basis to support that practice within our academic community.

Through its extensive network of national and international partners, the Consortium will serve as a conduit for the reception of and dissemination of innovative ideas and best practice for our region and the UK, as well as fostering greater public engagement with heritage organisations, local authorities and community groups.

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