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'How should decisions about heritage be made? (co-design research project)': The story so far


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'How should decisions about heritage be made?' is an Arts and Humanities Research Council Co-design Development Grant. In early 2013 the project team spent four months working together to explore the issues raised by decision making about heritage and then designed a research project. In our Phase 2 research (beginning in July 2013) the project will to root our bigger concerns with democracy and heritage in specific places and contexts by mapping who makes decisions, when and where. Our methodology, inspired by systemic action research approaches, uses a parallel set of three inquiry strands each oriented to heritage ‘as a system’ in different ways: ‘from within’ (using live projects to trace decision making), ‘experimenting’ (through a co-collecting project at the Science Museum) and ‘interrogating’ (publicly investigating the effects of ‘heritage’ in York).

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'How should decisions about heritage be made? (co-design research project)': The story so far

  1. 1. How should decisions about heritage be made?: Co- designing and co- producing a research project July 2013 …the story so far…
  2. 2. AHRC Connected Communities Programme Co-Design Development Grant The funding was broken into two phases. In Phase 1 (February-May 2013) we designed the research. Phase 2 begins in July 2013 and runs for 12 months.
  3. 3. Martin Bashforth, York’s Alternative History and Radical Historian Mike Benson, Director, Bede’s World Tim Boon, Head of Research and Public History, Science Museum Karen Brookfield, Deputy Director, Strategy, Heritage Lottery Fund Peter Brown, Director, York Civic Trust Danny Callaghan, Independent Consultant and Co-ordinator for Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative: ‘Building Stories’ and ‘The Potteries Tile Trail’ (HLF All Our Stories). Richard Courtney, University of Leicester Alex Hale, Royal Commission of Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland Paddy Hodgkiss, Riccall Community Archive Rebecca Madgin, University of Leicester Paul Manners, Director, National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement Jennifer Timothy, Senior Building Conservation Officer, Leicester City Council Rachael Turner, MadLab and ‘The Ghosts of St Pauls’ project (HLF All Our Stories)
  4. 4. Step 1 ‘Entry Points’ Step 2 ‘Scoping the Issues’ Step 3 ‘New perspectives’ Step 4 ‘Making Decisions’ Step 5 ‘Drafting of Phase 2 design’
  5. 5. Step 1 ‘Entry Points’ Before coming together, we reflected on the question ‘how should decisions about heritage be made?’ from where we work/live
  6. 6. Step 2 ‘Scoping the Issues’ In Workshop 1 we had two presentations to get us thinking. The first from Mike Benson, Kathy Cremin and John Lawson about their work at Ryedale Folk Museum and Bede’s World (key ideas: failure of museum to connect with the people whose history they represent, space, freedom of self).
  7. 7. Are we talking about the deinstitutionalization of the institution? Who defines what is significant? You can’t look at heritage in isolation (need to zoom out) Messy! Who is ‘heritage’ for, past, present or future?
  8. 8. Step 3 ‘New perspectives’ Danny Callaghan Mike Benson Members of the team visited other organisations or groups to share our ideas and see them through other people’s eyes. For example…
  9. 9. Step 4 ‘Making Decisions’ Step 4 ‘Making Decisions’
  10. 10. Step 4 ‘Making Decisions’ Understanding better how decisions are currently made and putting ‘heritage decision making’ in context Support better (more democratic) decisions to be made
  11. 11. So rather than seeking consensus, we explored ideas of what Danny Burns calls ‘parallel action’ ‘people see and feel connection between things’; ‘they know it is related to their experience’ and ‘they are energized and motivated’ (Danny Burns, Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change. Bristol: Policy Press, p. 53.
  12. 12. This led to us designing three inquiry strands – but within an overall framework
  13. 13. • Can we ‘map’ and ‘model’ ‘heritage’ as a complex system? • Who are the key players? How do they currently interact? How do these vary in different places? How is planning decision making different from community heritage contexts? • Where are the different ‘decision-making’ points in ‘heritage’ systems? • How are heritage decisions justified? What ideas are used to justify heritage decision making? (future generations; significance). What does not get seen as a ‘decision’ which should be? • What is changing around us which is impacting on how ‘heritage’ works (e.g. Localism Act, public sector cuts, philanthropy, changes in governance structures)? • What other models of decision making could we draw into a heritage context? (deliberative democracy, associative democracy, horizontal decision making, do-it-yourself approaches)? • What theoretical and conceptual resources from other disciplines might help (complexity theory, systems theory, actor network theory)? • How might systemic action research as a means of understanding heritage decision making itself help create changes with heritage decision making?
  14. 14. Aims: Decision making about heritage is difficult. This is partly because heritage decision making has formed around the idea that the interests of people in the past, present and future need to be taken into account and that it is necessary to consider different and sometimes conflicting ideas of what is important or significant. We think we could make heritage decision making easier (and better) if we could identify the ‘boundaries’, ‘sticking points’, ‘blocks’ and ‘exclusions’ in current practices. We will do this through actively drawing on the multiple perspectives and locations of the Research Team, through deploying experimental action research approaches and holding these together with thinking informed by ideas of systems and complexity to generate new insights. Understanding the dynamics of ‘heritage decision making’ in this way will help everyone with a stake to self-consciously develop decision making processes and practices and through this reshape our understandings of ‘heritage’ itself.
  15. 15. Big Workshop 1: Mapping and modelling heritage as a messy system Inquiry Strand 1: ‘from within’ Inquiry Strand 2: ’experimenting’ Inquiry Strand 3: ‘interrogating’ Big Workshop 2: Revise map/model Specific impact pathways… own organisations, HLF, HLF applicants, wider practitioners networks, hertiage studies
  16. 16. Inquiry Strand 1: ‘from within’ ‘making the familiar strange’ Bede’s World Potteries Tile Trial RCAHMS and Clyde project Leicester and planning decisions self-reflection – how does it work here? critical friend Exploring our overall research questions with people locally
  17. 17. Inquiry Strand 2: ’experimenting’ What should we collect? And what issues are raised by us asking you?
  18. 18. Inquiry Strand 3: ‘interrogating’ Is heritage good for York? (we’re debating the precise question at the moment) Grassroots ‘Public’ inquiry Use of big data Events Participatory exhibition
  19. 19. Mapping and modelling heritage as a messy system Inquiry Strand 1: ‘from within’ Inquiry Strand 2: ’experimenting’ Inquiry Strand 3: ‘interrogating’ Revise map/model Specific impact paths… own organisations, HLF, HLF applicants, wider practitioners networks, heritage studies
  20. 20. Keep in touch… Blog: http://codesignheritage.wordpress .com/ JISC Mailing list: Email: