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Paris and in particular the banks of the Seine, provides an interesting environment for engagement with the complexities and challenges of urban world heritage and how it relates to tourism and wider heritage debates in terms of access and development pressures.

Professor Mike Robinson and studies on the MA World Heritage Studies trip to UNESCO in Paris

As part of the MA Programme in World Heritage Studies offered by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham, students from the UK, China, Russia, Taiwan, Brazil and Finland visited the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris to engage in lively debate with specialists. This is an important visit as it allows the students to engage directly with the workings of the World Heritage Convention and also related Conventions on Intangible Cultural Heritage, Cultural Diversity as well as UNESCO initiatives on Creative Cities.

The students also attended lectures offered at the Université Paris 1 – La Sorbonne that covered issues of modernism and the World Heritage List and on the ways that French World Heritage Sites are managed through the Association for World Heritage Properties in France. They also engaged in lively debate and exchange with their counterparts studying at Paris 1 – La Sorbonne. To promote discussion on sustainable tourism development in the context of international heritage management, the students also visited OECD to hear about its work on tourism policy development and engage in debate with experts here.

Course leader of the World Heritage MA at Birmingham, Dr Helle Jorgensen, commented: “We are grateful to the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO and to OECD for their engagement with the students. We need to encourage open and lively debate on matters of heritage and tourism and to raise awareness of the ways in which the work of key intergovernmental organisations can impact upon a wide variety of policy fields and public discourse on heritage.”

For further information on the MA World Heritage Studies, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham please contact: H.Jorgensen@bham.ac.uk