The future of the past is being brought to life at the eighth UN Global Colloquium of University Presidents hosted by Yale University on April 12-13, 2016, and a series of related public events from April 6-15, 2016. “We want future leaders to appreciate the importance of cultural heritage and to pitch in to protect it,” Yale President Peter Salovey has said in discussing why he chose the preservation of cultural heritage as the focus for the colloquium itself, a meeting of university presidents and faculty from around the world.
A highlight of the week occurs on Tuesday, April 12 when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will give the keynote address at the opening session of the Global Colloquium of University Presidents that will center on the theme of “Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Challenges and Strategies,” focusing on issues of key importance to societies, universities, and major museums worldwide. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will also give a public talk on “Culture in Crisis” at 7pm on April 11. The Director-General will speak on confronting significant threats to the world’s cultural heritage.
ICOMOS President and former US/ICOMOS Executive Director Gustavo F. Araoz, Jr., F.US/ICOMOS will represent ICOMOS in the meetings. Other US/ICOMOS members Ms. Elizabeth Lee of CyArk, Mr. Tim Whalen of the Getty Conservation Institute and Ms. Lisa Ackerman of the World Monuments Fund.
In addition, US/ICOMOS is honored to welcome to the US former ICOMOS France Secretary-General Samir Abdulac who will also be attending. Mr. Abdulac chairs the ICOMOS Working Group for Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq. Other US/ICOMOS members who serve on this international working group include Dr. Douglas Comer (President of ICAHM), Pamela Jerome, F.US/ICOMOS, FAPT (Vice President of ISCEAH), Mr. Ben Kacyra (President of the CyArk Foundation), and US/ICOMOS Trustee Mr. Brian Michael Lione (founder and former director of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage).
Parts of the Colloquium and related programs are being organized by Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH). The IPCH is dedicated to “advancing the field of heritage science through transdisciplinary research, education and training, as well as practice and advocacy, with the aim of enhancing sustainable preservation of cultural heritage, interpretation, and access in service to the global conservation community.” Inaugural Director Stefan Simon, a conservation scientist, has also been an important ICOMOS leaders internationally, including as President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee Stone (ISCS). He also served as an elected member of ICCROM council.
Simon said “Universities are particularly well positioned to forge an effective response to the challenges and threats faced by cultural heritage, with their unique blend of education, research and advocacy. The interdisciplinary and multicultural environment of our institutions is well suited for developing sustainable solutions to such complex problems.”
The Yale events will also include concerts, tours and workshops on “Culture in Crisis,” “Sustainable Conservation of Cultural Heritage,” “The Role of Universities and our Cultural Heritage,” and “Grand Challenges in Cultural Heritage Data and Information,” among others. While some events are closed, many are open to the public. Those unable to attend in person can follow the conversation on social media under #unite4heritage.