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‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’

Helen Graham

As one of the Connected Communities Co-Design Development projects, ‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ was an unusual research project because, when it began, the research team admit they didn’t exactly know what it was about!

The team were given four months to work together to explore the issues raised by decision making about heritage and then to design a research project.

In Phase 2 of the research, the team decided to root their bigger concerns with democracy and heritage in specific places and contexts by mapping who makes decisions, when and where.

The methodology, inspired by systemic action research approaches, used a parallel set of three enquiry strands each oriented to heritage ‘as a system’ in different ways: ‘from within’ (using live projects to trace decision making), ‘experimenting’ (through a co-collecting project at the Science Museum) and ‘interrogating’ (publically investigating the effects of ‘heritage’ in York).

For more information, see

Project team:
Helen Graham (University of Leeds)
Martin Bashforth (York’s Alternative History and Radical Historian)
Mike Benson (Director, Bede’s World)
Tim Boon (Head of Research and Public History, Science Museum)
Karen Brookfield (Deputy Director, Strategy, Heritage Lottery Fund)
Peter Brown (Director, York Civic Trust)
Danny Callaghan (Independent Consultant and Co-ordinator for Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative: ‘Building Stories’ and ‘The Potteries Tile Trail’ (HLF All Our Stories))
Alex Hale (Royal Commission of Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland)
Paul Manners (Director, National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
Jennifer Timothy (Senior Building Conservation Officer, Leicester City Council)
Rachael Turner (MadLab and ‘The Ghosts of St Pauls’ project (HLF All Our Stories))