Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development

More than ever before, heritage is at the heart of an increasingly complex and challenging network of relationships between producers, protectors, policy-makers and communities. The agendas of international tourism, sustainable development and community involvement compete alongside the expansion of cultural economies and the interplay of local and national identities.

Communities may conflict with local, regional and national governments over issues of ownership and access. Tourists ‘test’ heritage and traditions and the tourism industry itself, with its attendant economies, increasingly requires heritage to take on an identity-making role. Indeed, cultural heritage sites now need to provide some tangible benefit beyond the aesthetic or historical qualities that previously justified their preservation.

Professor Mike Robinson, Cultural Heritage

Questions that Bridge Fellows could explore

How can meaningful heritage economies be constructed / managed to satisfy diverse and highly mobile communities and tourists? How do local, regional and national identities fare within the emergence of heritage economies? How are different types of heritage received by communities in the face of social change and economic decline? Such questions reflect a move away from a sole concern with preserving heritage at any cost, to a more sophisticated and nuanced approach to heritage as being instrumental in leveraging development and in recognition of its wider interpretations to shifting audiences. Under the broad theme of Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development, a BRIDGE Fellow may consider such questions and embark on a project / projects that will mesh with the interests of both IIICH and CHAMP.

Unique benefits of the BRIDGE Fellowship programme

  • Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) is a partnership formed over 30 years ago between the University of Birmingham and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) which manages the World Heritage Site and ten museums in Shropshire, UK
  • CHAMP is the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at the University of Illinois. CHAMP is a strategic research centre dedicated to the critical study of cultural heritage and museum practices on a worldwide scale in the context of globalization.
  • The relationship between the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) at the University of Birmingham and the Collaborative for Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP) at the University of Illinois has been central to the BRIDGE alliance between the two institutions
  • Both organizations have aligned interests in deepening our understandings of heritage as an international, inter-disciplinary field of study that overlaps considerably with the social and economic dimensions of tourism.
  • IIICH and CHAMP engage with different disciplinary perspectives, working across anthropology, architecture, business, cultural geography, landscape studies, museum studies, tourism etc. We work internationally on the cultural, political, representational, and organizational dimensions of heritage, tourism and development.
  • We value highly research that has public impact and is able to shape policy and practice in the wider fields of heritage, tourism and economic development.