Cultural Heritage Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Cultural heritage can be explored in many ways. These projects will give your students a chance to explore heritage on micro and macro scales and can be connected to existing curricula.

Cultural Heritage

One of the goals in history education today is to teach students to see history as a construct, something we build to help explain the past. That can feel like an abstract idea, but cultural heritage projects are a great way to make this more relatable and concrete. Through these assignments, students will examine the intersection of cultural memory, identity, and history. These projects are designed to be easily adaptable to various grades, from upper-level classes examining theory to introductory courses that just need a new way for students to connect with history.

Plan A Cultural Heritage Site

Divide the class into groups. In their groups, students are going to research a time period that you are talking about and try to identify some physical locations that are extremely important to this history. This project will work very well in exploring local history, but can be used with national or global history as well.

Once students have identified the location that they think is most important in this history, they are going to prepare a formal proposal to have this place registered as a cultural heritage site. It may be helpful to show students the websites for several cultural heritage sites and examine the sorts of ideas that they present and how they justify the importance of those sites. Students will then research their site in depth and write up a report summarizing its importance in history. They will prepare a presentation to present their proposal to the class, treating the class like a heritage preservation committee. If you wish to expand on this, you can also ask each group to create a poster that illustrates their site and its historical/cultural significance.

  • Materials: Resources for research, art and craft supplies as desired

Monument Project

Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group that they have been selected to submit proposals for a monument to cultural heritage (relevant to whatever time period or culture you are studying). In their groups, students are going to research the history, people, and ideas connected to their topic. They will then write up a proposal explaining their idea for a cultural heritage monument celebrating their topic, which should also include an explanation of the history and an analysis of how this will help the community and if any populations will find it offensive (and why). Finally, this report will include a set of ideas for the inaugurating ceremony for this monument, including cultural events, performances, speeches, etc.

Each group will complete a formal sketch of their monument, or a small model of it out of modeling clay or papier-mache if you want to make this more of an art project. Each group will also prepare a mock speech to be given at the official inauguration of their monument. Groups will present their monuments and speeches to the class.

  • Materials: Reference materials for research, art and craft supplies as desired

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