Ustinov Global Citizenship Programme

Understanding Durham’s World Heritage Site Today

By Marianna Iliadou

Photo Credit: Pattaranun Chaisudhiphongskul

On Thursday 21st March the GCP Seminar Series Team tried something different to its usual event setting. Instead of having a speaker delivering a seminar, we decided to facilitate a discussion. The topic of the event was Durham’s World Heritage Site and the aim was to explore the perspectives of both students (national and international) and local residents on their experience, stories and views of the World Heritage Site and its use today.

Our expert, PhD student Anouk Lafortune-Bernard, from the Archaeology Department, facilitated the discussion of the event with the help of the Seminar Series scholars. As people were arriving, we encouraged them to take a sit in one of the three tables. Each table had A3 maps of Durham and as an icebreaker activity, participants were asked to draw the line of what they think the Durham World Heritage Site involves.

After the icebreaker, the event kicked off with discussion in each table on the history and importance of Durham World Heritage Site, its present use and expectations and Concerns related to Durham World Heritage Site. What followed was a short presentation by Anouk on findings of similar discussions she had with other groups. The last activity designed for the evening was to discuss your own experience of Durham compared to the results presented by Anouk.

It was very interesting to bring together local residents and students to discuss Durham’s Heritage Site, its use and expectations. The discussion in small groups showed how different the perceptions of students were compared to those of other groups. The focus was also placed on the role of university and what could be done in order to engage students with the local community, history and heritage of Durham.

Understanding the use of the site and reflect on any concerns or expectations that we may have about future plans or developments at, or near, the World Heritage Site is very important for our community. The event provided a great opportunity to create spaces where we can engage in dialogue beyond academic spheres, reinforcing ties within our community.

Special thanks to Anouk for the initiative and facilitation of the event and to everyone who participated.

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