The Chair

Chronicle

The Directorate of Higher Education of UNESCO awarded on June 29, 2021 the UNESCO Chair "on Threats to the Cultural Heritage and related activities" at the Ionian University, to Professor Stavros Katsios (Chair holder) of the Department of Foreign Studies and Interpreting (DFLTI) and Director of the Geo-Cultural Analysis Laboratory (GeoLab) at the Ionian University. The Agreement between UNESCO and the Ionian University was signed on 8th and 27th October 2021 respectively. The approved UNESCO Chair is the first in Western Greece and the Ionian Islands and the only Chair in a Greek University system on Cultural Heritage. This is of particular importance for Corfu as a city inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Chair focuses on the study and analysis, research and teaching (at undergraduate, postgraduate-doctoral level and lifelong learning) of all kinds of threats to Cultural Heritage (such as environmental, economic, criminal, defense and political, technological, criminal, terrorist threats, etc.) and for any related activity (such as threats to infrastructure, transport, tourism, etc.). Implementing body of UNESCO Chair's activities is the Laboratory of Geocultural Analysis (GeoLab) of the Department FLTI. In addition to the staff of the Laboratory, the Chair is enriched by an international interdisciplinary team of scholars and researchers forming the Steering and Scientific Committies.

The decision to award the Chair took into account the international uniqueness of the Chair's object, the completeness of the dossier submitted, the international presence and the original research and teaching work of the GeoLab Laboratory, the multi-collection and the networking, research the academic profile of the Department of FLTI and of the Ionian University. An important role in the successful outcome beside the strong support by the Ionian University and the UNESCO Greek National Committee, played key institutions of Corfu, as well as foreign scholars and institutions expressing their support to the Chair.

 

The Chair

The “UNESCO-Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage and to Cultural Heritage-related Activities” at the Ionian University, is deeply committed to fostering dialogue and understanding about the preservation and significance of our global heritage for the generations to come and has been at the forefront of addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our cultural heritage today. Notably, the Working Group on the Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities, under our Chair, has garnered significant attention in media outlets internationally. Heritage can be nothing less than a platform for future making, for addressing threats and challenges like the climate change and the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And for this mission to be accomplished we need foresight, anticipation and literacy skills.

The “UNESCO-Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage and to Cultural Heritage-related Activities” seeks to identify the multifold threats whether man-made or natural, that are posed to cultural heritage and cultural heritage-related activities and carry out research proposing policies and measures, whether administrative, legislative, policy or other consulting services, that will essentially protect cultural heritage and cultural heritage activities. Such measures entail as much as a human-rights based approach as a socio- economic approach.

In this context the Chair is operating within the Laboratory for Geocultural Analyses (GEOLab) of the Department of Foreign Languages Translation and Interpreting at the Ionian University, Corfu, Greece.

The Specific objectives of this Chair are to:

  • Contribute to identifying the multifold threats that are posed to cultural heritage and cultural heritage-related activities and enhance the fight against threats in any form at the regional, national and local levels.
  • Research how States and other actors (regional organizations or professional associations) are effectively contributing to the protection of cultural heritage or otherwise affecting cultural heritage-related activities;
  • Identify and support measures, whether administrative or legislative, policy or other, that will contribute to protecting cultural heritage and cultural heritage-related activities;
  • Develop a series of educational tools and capacity-building training programs to promote sustainable environmental management and protect cultural heritage in times of crisis;
  • Promote inter-university cooperation as a strategy for developing functioning mechanisms to protect cultural heritage; and,
  • Cooperate closely with UNESCO and other UNESCO Chairs on relevant programs and activities.

The objectives set are fully in line with UNESCO's goals, priorities and policies. In this framework the "UNESCO-Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage and to Cultural Heritage related Activities" will expand and deepen the valuable work of the Laboratory for Geo-cultural Analyses (GeoLab) and the partners of the Yellow Tourism international research consortium. The "UNESCO-Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage and to Cultural Heritage related Activities" will further provide a forum for scholars who deal with various aspects of cultural heritage and its protection against all forms of crime, security, resilience and sustainability, creating a global protection culture. The mission of the Chair would be deployed on five levels:

  • building a scientific community (and a corresponding set of knowledge, competences, and skills), which will facilitate the creation of sustainable cultural heritage strategies, practices and policies);
  • educating and raising awareness of the public, the various entities, the private and public sectors about the quality and magnitude of threats to cultural heritage;
  • building coalitions at the local level – where much of cultural heritage is grounded – minding the special circumstances and needs of each community;
  • proposing and supporting public policies and standards of evaluation, assessment and compliance for all citizens, communities, bodies, businesses, and organizations for the protection of cultural heritage and of cultural heritage related activities globally, and
  • creating a global protection

 

The UNESCO Chairs

The UNESCO Chairs are operated within the framework of the UNITWIN UNESCO Chairs program as autonomous research and teaching units of the universities and think tanks. UNITWIN is an abbreviation for the University Twinning Program. UNESCO Chairs and their global networks systematically establish links between the academic and research community, civil society, local communities and policy-making and decision-making centers evolving at the local and regional levels of excellence and ingenuity. They have been developed worldwide to promote research, study and teaching in UNESCO's areas of interest and act as agents for the dissemination and execution of its work. Through business cooperation and intercultural dialogue, they make a decisive contribution to the implementation of the UNESCO program.

 

Updated: 23-10-2023
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