Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recommended: Sites of Transformation

Sites of Transformation is a blog devoted to UNESCO's World Heritage program and the sites it has chosen to honor. Herdis Hølleland, the blogger has been posting materials on the blog for a year, and plans to add additional materials for two more years.

“Sites of transformations? Glocal perspectives on UNESCO’s mixed World Heritage Sites” is her PhD project, currently undertaken at the University of Oslo. The PhD project is part of a research project entitled “Cultural Transformations in the Age of Globalization (KULTRANS). In short KULTRANS is to conduct research that is transdisciplinary, transnational and transhistorical. The blog is to function as a means to disseminate and discuss the on-going research as well as to be an online field diary. It is also to discuss heritage tourism and World Heritage more generally.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The State Department has published a brief statement titled "U.S. Multilateral Engagement: Benefits to American Citizens". I quote the section relating to UNESCO:
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) helps to protect our cultural and natural property and landmarks, strives to keep sports doping-free, and promotes educational exchanges around the world. UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention attracts international visitors to our national parks and monuments, and helps ensure that those sites are protected for future generations. The International Convention Against Doping in Sport helps keep performance enhancing drugs out of sports, and ensure that only participants can bid to host the Olympic Games. The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network, which includes more than 8,500 educational institutions in 180 countries, provides U.S. schools with opportunities to engage with their peers all over the world, including through programs on international understanding, intercultural dialogue, human rights education, and sustainable development.
The State Department limited its statement to four pages, and thus its discussion of UNESCO to one paragraph. Let me add a second paragraph to that statement.

UNESCO seeks to promote peace by building the defenses of peace in the minds of men and thus protects American security, it does this through its worldwide education programs and by its support for a culture of peace. It plays a key role in improving education worldwide, providing American firms with educated foreign consumers and all our citizens with educated foreign partners in solving a host of global problems. UNESCO helps Americans to express their generosity helping the poorest people and the poorest nations in the world.  It helps Americans promote democracy abroad by standing as a firm defender of freedom of the press. Not only does UNESCO help "to protect our cultural and natural property and landmarks," it helps to assure that those things are protected everywhere so that we Americans can see them when we travel and so that we can rest assured that those foreign sites will be there for our children and their children to know and enjoy. UNESCO has certified  a global system of university chairs and networks which helps to enrich higher education worldwide, linking American universities with those in other continents. UNESCO helps American scientists to network with their colleagues worldwide, providing benefits from better prediction of tsunamis and earthquakes that might endanger our citizens, to developing a global network of bioreserves to help understand how to protect against environmental threats.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The U.S. Delegation Brings World Heritage Photo Exhibit to UNESCO

“World Heritage Sites around the World,” is a U.S. sponsored photographic exhibition by award-winning U.S. photographer Tom Till that was recently installed at UNESCO. The exhibit included breathtaking photographs of 32 World Heritage sites taken in 23 different countries, reflecting both the natural and manmade beauty and grandeur found in countries around the world and highlighted by the World Heritage program.

Among the photos were six American sites – including the Grand Canyon and five of the other most visited landmarks and natural wonders found in the U.S. Also on display during the exhibition was a short video about the United States’ most recent addition to the World Heritage list, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, inscribed at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia, in July 2010. Read more....

You can purchase original prints of Mr. Till's photos online from his website.

Tom Till photograph
Alpenglow at Mather Point, 
Grand Canyon National Park

U.S. Secretary of Education Speaks at UNESCO; Highlights Education Reform Agenda

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Arne Duncan delivered a keynote speech at UNESCO headquarters on November 4th. Speaking to an audience of members of UNESCO’s permanent delegations, the UNESCO Secretariat, university leaders and representatives from NGOs devoted to education, Secretary Duncan outlined his vision of education reform and discussed the role of education in economic competitiveness and global prosperity.

In his speech, Secretary Duncan said he rejected the assumption that improving economic conditions in the United States is a zero sum game. Read more.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

World Philosophy Day 2010

Celebrated at UNESCO’s initiative every third Thursday of November since 2002, World Philosophy Day takes place this year on 18 November 2010.
The events organized by UNESCO, or by its partners, provide an opportunity to make philosophical reflection accessible to all (professors and students, scholars and the general public, the young and the less young), thereby enlarging the opportunities and spaces for the stimulation of critical thinking and debate.
This year the day contributes to to the celebration of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2010).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

UNESCO Related Twitter Feeds

As you probably know, Twitter is a new service which allows one to post short messages to the Internet. While the messages are limited to 140 characters, they can convey a surprising amount of information. Frequently a tweet consists of a topic statement and a link (usually utilizing a reduced Internet address) to a website or report. A number of Twitter feeds have come online dealing with UNESCO. These include:

Friday, November 05, 2010

NOVA Ancient Worlds

The great PBS series, NOVA, this season is broadcasting a series of programs on ancient worlds. The series may be of considerable interest to those interested in UNESCO's World Heritage program, and indeed the NOVA website for the series includes a link to the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can watch programs that have already been screened on television online and you can watch previews of coming programs online on the Ancient World website, which also includes supplementary materials.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A major World Heritage Report by a U.S. Foundation

The Global Heritage Fund, headquartered in Palo Alto California, has published a report titled Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites in the Developing World.
Vanishing surveys over 500 global heritage sites and highlights the accelerating threats facing these cultural treasures. Many have survived thousands of years, only to be lost in this generation—on our watch.

Vanishing was conceived by Global Heritage Fund, an international conservancy that has worked for nearly a decade to protect and preserve the most significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in the developing world.

With the critical review of 24 leading experts working in heritage conservation and international development, this report surveys hundreds of endangered global heritage sites and strives to identify those most in need of immediate intervention, and what the global community can do to save them.
Read articles based on the report:
  • "The World's Vanishing History" from the Wall Street Journal (More than 200 heritage sites are in a state of irreversible disrepair and will be lost unless communities, governments and international groups act to prevent their destruction, said the Global Heritage Fund, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on historical preservation.)
  • "Heritage sites at risk, study finds: Endangered areas could cost $100 billion in lost revenue" in the Victoria Times Colonist of British Columbia (Haiti's Palace of Sans Souci, known as the "Versailles of the Caribbean," and Mirador, a massive pre-Columbian city in Guatemala, are among the 20 sites listed in the report as on the verge of irreparable loss and destruction due to mismanagement, looting, neglect, conflict and unsustainable tourism.)