HORIZON EUROPE FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME┋Cultural heritage in transformation – facing change with confidence


Call image

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Deeper and broader understanding of the constantly changing nature of cultural heritage, and of how this understanding can be effectively shared with citizens.
  • Evidence based method(s), tested in small scale, that deploy a deeper understanding of the transformative nature of cultural heritage to help citizens face current and future societal transformations, change and disruption with greater confidence.


Cultural heritage has enormous potential in terms of its contribution to improving the quality of life for people, understanding the past and assisting territorial cohesion[1]. Cultural heritage gives us a sense of identity and belonging, and shape our future. Current policy discourses focus essentially on the need to protect and preserve cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations[2].

However, just as culture and society, cultural heritage is in reality subject to constant change. Cultural heritage, ranging from the tangible to the intangible, from narratives and practices to monuments, landscapes and objects, is created, developed, destroyed, re-interpreted and re-valued relentlessly. Moreover, how we interpret, value (or not) and manage our cultural heritage is, necessarily, a function of our currently dominating beliefs, values and other cultural and socio-economic circumstances. In effect, the now dominating discourse emphasising the need to protect and preserve a cultural heritage which is perceived as precious and fragile is a relatively recent phenomenon.

European citizens and societies are facing an ever-faster pace of cultural, social and technological change, where old habits and beliefs are forcefully replaced by new ones. Every age in the course of history has experienced change to a greater or lesser extent, but it hardly seems an exaggeration to suggest that the world in the 21st century faces epochal changes, which affect every part of society. Subjected to such a dramatically changing environment, it is natural that citizens feel uncomfortable, perhaps lost, and long for the perceived stability of the past.

Making the constantly changing nature of our cultural heritage, the ongoing creation, destruction and re-interpretation, a more prominent and visible feature in the interaction with users, can potentially help make sense of today’s and tomorrow’s societal transformations. A greater understanding and broader awareness of the transformative nature of our cultural heritage can help put societal changes in perspective, diminish the stress perceived by people affected, and help approaching change with more confidence and less fear. Yet, the transformative nature of cultural heritage and the potential societal benefits it can bring has not been thoroughly researched.

The challenge is to deepen knowledge in this area, and devise ways to broaden and deepen the understanding of the transformative nature of cultural heritage, with the aim to help citizens face current and future societal transformations with greater confidence. The approach(es) chosen should be evidence based, effective and economically, culturally, politically and environmentally sustainable.

In order to verify and refine the effectiveness and sustainability of the proposed method(s) across Europe, at least three small scale pilot trials should be carried out in different settings.

Proposals may choose to focus broadly on a wide spectrum of cultural heritage or only on a highly relevant and potentially high-impact subset. However, the recommended methods should be effective across the cultural, geographic, political and socio-economic diversity of Europe.

To the extent possible, proposals should build on existing knowledge, activities and networks, notably the ones funded by the European Union. Furthermore, funded proposals may establish links and seek synergies with related actions, such as relevant R&I actions funded by Horizon Europe or Horizon 2020.

[1] See for example Cultural Heritage in a Changing World (Borowiecki, Forbes, Fresa 2016)

[2] See for instance the preamble to the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1972)

Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Archaeology, Architecture and urbanism, Arts and Art history, History, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and religion
Social sciences : Law, Economy, Geography, Management and Public administration, Gender studies, Identities, gender and sexuality, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, International Relations, Political science, Pedagogic & Education Research, Information and Communication Sciences, Sociology