In the company of scholars: “Are we Losing Our Past or Our Future? - Sustainable Preservation of Cultural Heritage”

November 24, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 4 pm
Room 119, Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York Street

Host: Lynn Cooley, Dean, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Tangible documents, paintings, sculptures and historic buildings and sites are just like intangible assets like folk traditions or languages essential elements of our cultural heritage and identity. Such treasures are not only a manifestation of the achievements of our civilization, but also have considerable economic value, for example, for tourism and sustainable development. Cultural heritage is, however, ephemeral and cannot be regarded as a renewable commodity. Preserving it requires a sustainable approach as well as a commitment made by society as a whole.

The challenges of the 21st century in protecting the tangible and intangible, cultural and natural heritage of the world are global in character and need to be also addressed on a global level. Cultural and natural heritage are increasingly threatened with destruction not only by the physical and chemical mechanisms of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions. Natural and man-made disasters are a very important factor, as recently illustrated in a horrifying way by the cultural war crimes committed in the Middle East and Africa. The world is changing at a rapid pace and conservation efforts must keep up with these challenges.

Cultural heritage is about identity, knowledge, and the future, as well as the past. As a global university, and with its new Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale is lending its voice to this conversation and collaboration efforts to rescue and preserve cultural heritage. The lecture will discuss threats affecting cultural heritage on various levels and ways to address and mitigate them.