Module: Facing up to Challenging Environments: Economics, Society, Politics and Policy

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Geraint Coles
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    15 hours

Module content

This module seeks to develop an understanding of the complex contemporary economic, social and political issues facing heritage and the ways in which these may shape future discourse and development.

The remains of the human past, both tangible or intangible, are today facing a significant number of challenges ranging from climate change, agricultural intensification, urban development through to various ”fake” politically-inspired narratives about the past. None of these issues can be tackled in isolation and each requires an integrated approach which engages with policy areas well beyond the remit of “heritage protection”.

The module therefore commences with an exploration of the complex of shifting economic factors, cultural influences and social attitudes which shape public and political perceptions of heritage and the historic environment. It explores how these perceptions are reflected in government policy and how they are interpreted and reflected by industry and civil society.

The module then looks in detail at the impact of policy and the relationship between historic environment policy and natural environment policy. In particular it explores the opportunities which exist to influence the relevant policy levers such as environmental impact assessment, integrated development, ecosystem services vs public goods, Policy v Regulation v Legislation v Best Practice, planning policy, transport policy, forestry policy, tourism strategies and renewable energy support.

The module concludes by exploring how participants can begin to influence and shape policy & process through evidence-based leadership. The role of the participant as innovator and advocate is strongly promoted.

The module will examine in detail British, European and North American systems but it will also explore case studies draw from further afield. Emphasis will be placed on understanding broad patterns and connectivity.

Module outcomes

To achieve credit for this module, students must be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the complex of shifting economic factors, cultural influences and social attitudes which shape public and political perceptions of heritage and the historic environment
  2. Analyse and critically review resultant government, industry and civil society policy mechanisms related to cultural heritage and their impact on society and the economy
  3. Evaluate the opportunities, and demonstrate the techniques needed, to effectively lead and influence cultural heritage and natural heritage policy and strategy
  4. Propose and defend innovative policies that deliver positive integrated strategic impact on society, the economy and the historic & natural environment


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework 1 Presentation of a short (15 minute) paper for a “mini-conference” on a topic set at the start of the year (equal to 1000 words) 40%
Coursework 2 A written research paper building on the mini-conference presentation (2000 words) 60%

Assessments may differ in 2020/21 due to adjustments for Covid-19. Please check Gateway for the latest regulations.

Key texts

Students need to be familiar with the contents of one of the following:

  • Harrison, R. (Editor) (2010) Understanding the Politics of Heritage (Understanding Global Heritage). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 328 pages
  • Kalman, H. (2014) Heritage Planning – Principles and Process. Routledge, London
  • La Follette, L (2013) Negotiating culture: Heritage, Ownership, and Intellectual Property. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press

Philosophy, Ethics, Values, Biases and Assumptions

  • Benton, T. (2010) Understanding Heritage and Memory (Understanding Global Heritage). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 328 pages
  • de Groot, J. (2008) Consuming History: Historians and Heritage in Contemporary Popular Culture. London: Routledge, 304 pages
  • Graham, B., Ashworth, G. & Tunbridge, J. (2000) A Geography of Heritage: Power, Culture and Economy (Hodder Arnold Publication). London: Routledge, Re-issue edition, 288 pages
  • Hanks, Michele (2014) Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past (Heritage, Tourism and Community).  Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press Inc., 240 pages
  • Little, B.J. & Shackel, P.A. (2014) Archaeology, Heritage, and Civic Engagement: Working toward the Public Good.  Walnut Grove: Left Coast Press. 172 pages
  • Logan, W. & Reeves, K. (2008) Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing with 'Difficult Heritage' (Key Issues in Cultural Heritage). London:  Routledge, 304 pages
  • Smith, L. (2006) Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge, 368 pages
  • Urry, J. & Larsen, J. (2011) (3rd Edition) The Tourist Gaze 3.0. London: Sage
  • West, S. (Editor) (2010) Understanding Heritage in Practice (Understanding Global Heritage). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 328 pages

Policy and Legislation

  • Aas, C., Ladkin, A., & Fletcher, J. (2005). Stakeholder collaboration and heritage management. Annals of tourism research, 32(1), 28-48
  • Claudia Nissley (Author); Thomas F. King (Author) Consultation and Cultural Heritage - Let Us Reason Together. Walnut Grove: Left Coast Press. 175 pp
  • Kohl, J.M. & McCool, S.F. (2016) The Future has Other Plans: Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage. Golden Colorado, Fulcrum Publishing. ISBN 9781 6827 50001
  • Strange, I., & Whitney, D. (2003). The changing roles and purposes of heritage conservation in the UK. Planning, Practice & Research, 18(2-3), 219-229
  • UK Heritage Protection Legislation – various Acts of Parliament (linked to on-line)
  • UNESCO Conventions (protection of heritage, etc.) (linked to on-line)