Why Study Cultural Heritage?

My love for cultural heritage started before my undergrad.. when I watched Time Team with my mum and nan on ABC Australia. I became mesmorised by the scientific aspects of archaeology and decided I wanted to study that at university. I completed a 4-year degree with an Honours, majoring in Archaeology and absolutely loved it. There were so many different areas that I wanted to pursue but I found it difficult to find one that really resonated with me.

Originally I wanted to pursue maritime archaeology, then I thought I wanted to focus on forensic archaeology, and by the time I graduated I was sure I wanted to do geo-archaeology… I had a break still sure that I wanted to do geo-archaeology post-grad eventually, but I didn’t and instead I went into the travel industry. This is where I really found my passion.

Travel has always been something that I have craved, loved, obsessed over, and wanted to pursue since my first international trip in 2010 to Italy. I became a travel adviser after I finished university and put my dreams of archaeology on hold to let my partner at the time pursue his career. Entering the travel industry was nothing like I had expected, but it gave me a whole new perspective about travel, and came with the realisation that the way I travel is not the way most others travel.

I realised that the travel industry was not as sustainable or responsible as I had assumed; albeit some companies in the industry really push for this. I realised that most people don’t know what cultural heritage is… That’s when I found my passion; heritage tourism. Looking at respect within heritage tourism is actually a theme of my Master’s project, currently in progress at the time of writing this.

As I mentioned, my focus is on heritage tourism and my vision is for travellers be educated in and respect the cultural and natural heritage of destinations, and to assist in creating an age of sustainable and responsible tourism. Working for UNESCO would give me the biggest platform to create change, and that is why eventually I hope to work with them.

What is UNESCO?

When people hear UNESCO they generally think protected world heritage sites around the world, likely a plaque they’ve seen at a tourist attraction, but it is much more than that.

UNESCO stands for the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It not only has the interests of world heritage protection in mind, but is also dedicated to the sustainable development of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty.

It may surprise you to know what the global priorities of UNESCO currently are. Their main focus is on Africa, and gender equality. In addition, they have five overarching objectives:

  • Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning;
  • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development;
  • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges;
  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace;
  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.

Learn more about UNESCO’s focus and objectives here.

Header image: Silhouette of Trees at Candi Plaosan, Indonesia by Baehaki Hariri on Unsplash

Published by Ashlee

Ashlee is currently studying her Master of Cultural Heritage at Deakin University. She loves adventure, culture, travel, music and nature. She is passionate about conservation and preservation. Ashlee wants to inspire the world to be just as passionate about world heritage locations as she is. "Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most." Buddha

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