Course: Challenging Eternity

Planning heritage in the participatory society
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This course aims to contribute to a paradigm shift in cultural heritage education and practice. It challenges a traditional conservationist approach, which protects heritage against societal changes (“Challenging Eternity”); rather, it teaches that heritage can be designed and managed to contribute to societal challenges. Rome is the laboratory for this course, as the City of Heritage by excellence. Following the latest European and global conventions and goals (e.g. Faro, UN SDG), innovative questions will be asked, such as: how can heritage be designed and planned so as to increase social inclusivity and cohesion, or to make our landscapes more sustainable. In particular we will ask how this can be done through citizen participation. Increasingly, as in nearly all sectors of society, citizens demand a voice in the definition and management of heritage. However, there is still much uncertainty about the constraints and potentially negative effects and risks of this openness/inclusiveness. There is also much debate on current concepts, tools and procedures for democratization in the access to and definition and management of heritage. The present course aims to provide the students with a critical understanding of this debate, as well as with the ability to apply the participatory concepts, tools and procedures to the planning and design of specific heritage contexts in the city of Rome. A 10 days excursion to Rome is a key element in this course.

Gert-Jan Burgers (Free University of Amsterdam)
Maria Margarita Segarra Lagunes (Università degli Studi Roma Tre)

Course language

Course objectives
The main objectives of the course are the following:
On completion of this course, those who have participated will:
1. have a basic knowledge of the concepts, tools and procedures of democratization in the access to and design and management of built heritage;
2. have an insight into how inclusive heritage landscapes can be planned and designed;
3. be familiar with the heritage city per excellence, Rome;
4. be able to use best practice participatory models, procedures and tools for the design of heritage landscapes in the city;
5. be able to report about the project through oral presentation, design and text.

The study load is the equivalent of 6 ECTS (168 hours). Each student should arrange with his/her home coordinator whether the course can be a part of the existing curriculum. After successful completion of the course the KNIR provides a certificate mentioning study load and evaluation.

Assessment and testing
The study load is based on:
a)    Before the summer school: lectures and assignment: 2 ECTS (56 hours)
b)    Active participation, presentation and draft essay: 3 ECTS (84 hours)
c)    At the conclusion: essay: 1 ECTS (28 hours)

Assessment takes place on the basis of preparatory study of course material (20%), active participation and on-site presentation (40%), and the concluding essay (40%).

Criteria for evaluations include:
For all assignments:
● understanding of the subject matter (both on a theoretical and factual level),
● clarity and structure of argumentation,
● critical approach of the literature,
● originality and personal view,
● style and correct usage of the (English) language.

In addition, for the presentation:
● application of visual and spatial approaches (where relevant),
● capacity to involve the audience.

Course material

1) pre-Rome phase: Each student selects a participatory heritage project in the own city and analyses it according to the criteria established in the lectures: number of participants, diversity (age, gender, ethnicity, soc/ec background), type of action, goals (15 hours). They are linked up to two other students and together will compare the individual projects (25 hours);
Deadline: 20 April 2023. All groups present a power point presentation of the comparative analysis on 24 April 2023. You will receive feedback on 30 April 2023.

2) during the Rome excursion: At the start of the excursion, the students will be divided in groups of 3 or 4. Each group visits, describes and analyses a participatory heritage project in Rome on the basis of the texts and projects of the online preparatory assignments; the main challenge is to jointly carry out analyses (e.g. area descriptions, interviews, assessments of documents) and prepare and present concrete plans and recommendations to guide the Roman participatory projects and the related local spatial (heritage) transformations. The assignment will be concluded and assessed with a project proposal, presented onsite through an excursion in the case study area.

3) Essay
Post-Rome phase: write a group essay about the analysis of and plan for the Roman participatory heritage project. Deadline: 31 May 2023. You will receive written feedback on your essay by e-mail within 3 weeks.

Target group and admission
The course is open to 5 selected (R)Ma/PhD students in Classics, (Art) History, Heritage studies, Cultural studies or related disciplines at MA / RMA or PhD level from the following KNIR partner universities: University of Amsterdam, University of Leiden, University of Utrecht, Radboud University, University of Groningen.

Most excursions we will be making on foot – so bring comfortable walking shoes. A small amount of cash for the bus will also be useful.
Be aware that COVID restrictions, including face mask and social distancing requirements, may be different than your home country.

Tuition and lodging at the KNIR is free for selected participants from the above mentioned Dutch partner universities and they will receive a €100 reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after the completion of this course. Personal expenses, including meals, are not included.

Facilities in Rome
The selected participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical center of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and garden of the Royal Netherlands Institute.

Application and admission
The selection of MA/(R)MA students is based on grades, the positioning of the course in the student’s curriculum, and a letter of motivation. The selection of PhD students is based on the letter of motivation and curriculum vitae. Students can apply via the link below; include in your application:
• a letter of motivation (max. 1 A4)
• a cv
• for (R)MA students: a recent list of courses followed and grades provided by your university

Apply before
15 February 2023
Please note that the decision of the selection committee is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621

Tuesday May 2: arrival participants
17.00-19.00 Introduction, Auditorium
Saturday May 13: departure participants (vacate room before 09.30)


This course is organized in collaboration with: