Heritage Studies (Minor)

Program Description

Until recently, the expert-driven origins of the ‘heritage industry’ have shaped global approaches to heritage management, practice, and studies. However, in recent years the heritage industry has shifted from a largely conservationist focus of preserving remains that are deemed valuable to a more globalized and multidisciplinary field at the heart of many cultural, social, political, environmental, and economic processes. New paradigms recognize the challenges of applying universalism to heritage processes that are often highly localized and nuanced.

The multidisciplinary minor in Heritage Studies introduces students to the theory and practices of the disciplines associated with heritage from local and global perspectives through research-based learning. It allows for the exploration of the past in the present through the interpretation of material culture and memory with a special focus on community-based research. The program offers courses that are related to heritage production, consumption and uses, identity politics, cultural contestation on one side, and scientific methods of investigation and data interpretation for the recovery and conservation of cultural heritage on the other. Heritage Studies thus combines courses from various divisions at NYUAD reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the field.

Focus Areas

This multidisciplinary minor and its learning outcomes are structured around two areas:

Heritage Theory

Heritage Theory focuses on the uses of heritage as a political, economic and social agent. By studying the complexities of sites, commemorative practices and heritage production in public arenas, the theme aims to identify the various functions of heritage in contemporary society that allow either for the creation of interconnection or division among societies. Complex systems that illustrate the uses of heritage will be studied through an integrated approach, which will not separate cultural from ecological sustainability. The theme includes broader and more holistic concepts of heritage such as cultural landscapes, which combine the physical, cognitive and cultural reality of heritage.

Heritage Management and Research Methods

The conservation and analysis of heritage sites, (art) objects and their narratives is central in heritage management, interpretation and legal frameworks. Courses in this theme will center on the diverse research methodologies applied in heritage studies and management. Specific focus will include the material sciences and imaging. This theme will also introduce advanced technologies used in the location and recording of heritage sites. Furthermore, this theme will include courses that are related to the Digital Humanities, including digitization of heritage as well as innovative ways of mapping, documenting and interpreting heritage.