UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and Rector of the Estonian Academy of Arts ( EKA) Mart Kalm signed a cooperation agreement with the Department of Heritage Protection and Conservation at EKA, to establish a Chair of UNESCO Heritage Studies.
During a quarter of a century, the Department of Heritage Protection and Conservation of EKA has developed into a sectoral competence center, where work on topical issues of cultural heritage preservation, heritage protection policy and heritage and tourism management is in line with UNESCO objectives.
The Estonian Academy of Arts has been engaged in cultural diplomacy for many years and has been good at ensuring that Estonia is actively involved in international cooperation in the protection, preservation and promotion of world heritage. In 2009-2013, Professor Mart Kalm chaired the Estonian working group of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which also included several other recognized EKA lecturers. EKA is also represented in the international heritage protection expert organization ICOMOS, which advises UNESCO.
“Through the experience gained, cooperation with higher education institutions operating in the field of preservation and restoration of cultural heritage in the world has expanded, from which the idea of establishing a UNESCO Chair at the Estonian Academy of Arts grew,” Alatalu said.
“UNESCO provides an opportunity to participate in the network, to involve renowned foreign experts in teaching and research, and to use the UNESCO Chair’s logo as a sign of recognition and belonging. UNESCO appreciates the Chair’s importance in society and its ability to cooperate with both municipalities and the private sector,”
“For example, cooperation with the Port of Tallinn, which supports the long-term research project ‘Sustainable Management and Exhibition of Tallinn’s Old Town’ is important for EKA. The project has fostered cooperation between different parties and has led to a number of important proposals on how to promote Tallinn and Estonia as a tourist destination so that the heritage is well preserved and the local population is involved.”
Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Chair Program, which covers more than 800 chairs in 117 countries, promotes cooperation and networking between universities, with the aim of strengthening institutional capacity through knowledge sharing and cooperation.
The program supports chairs in UNESCO fields – education, natural and social sciences, culture and communication. Through this network, universities and research institutions around the world pool their resources to address current challenges and thereby contribute to societal development.
The Chair of UNESCO EKA is coordinated by Riin Alatalu, Associate Professor of the Department of Heritage Protection and Conservation.