The inaugural session of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Webinar Series was held on 18 June 2020, centering on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on living heritage in the Asia-Pacific region. Co-organized by ICHCAP and the UNESCO Bangkok Office, the first session featured presentations that addressed how the pandemic unsettled the transmission of ICH, particularly the involvement of communities, groups, and individuals in ICH safeguarding activities. Significantly, the first session looked into the possible roles ICH might take in a crisis—a crucial understanding of living heritage especially in imagining the future that is indubitably defined by the challenging measures the pandemic has brought upon us. Delving deeper into the impacts of the pandemic on heritage with the state of higher education in mind, the second session of the webinar series is intentioned to look into the teaching of heritage-related disciplines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The incalculable damages the pandemic has had on cultural tourism and heritage conservation practices—with the Luang Prabang World Heritage in Laos, Borobodur in Indonesia, and other important sites of tangible heritage in Asia on lockdown for months—have crisp implications on the link between heritage education and economic development, the study of professional heritage conservation and risk assessment, as well as site management and policies that also consider the livelihood of communities related to specific tangible heritage sites. The harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are strikingly visible in universities, too. In the Republic of Korea and China, academic gatherings have been cancelled, with the drastic change being instruction largely served through online platforms. In this survey of universities with academic programs related to living heritage, these two East Asian countries have university degrees that solely focus on ICH. Meanwhile, with varied border closure, lockdown, or curfew strategies to restrict mobility and travel in countries where there are academic degrees or post-graduate programs that are highly related to ICH such as India, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Myanmar, and the Philippines, we can only expect to find ourselves among academics, researchers, and higher education students looking for innovative teaching and learning models, instructional designs, and alternative practices of scholarly study that respond to the needs of heritage instruction amidst the pandemic.
How does COVID-19 pandemic affect the way we think about the relation between heritage and educational institution? What are the new issues and understanding for teaching or research to address that have been raised by the pandemic (e.g. role of heritage, creativity, community, sustainability, etc.)? What alternative practices are formulated to cover the objectives of traditional methods of critical inquiry such as fieldwork, survey, and interview? These are some of the important questions the Session II of the ICH Webinar Series will address. Co-organised by ICHCAP, UNESCO Bangkok Office, and the Asian Academy of Heritage Management, the session will be held on 2 July 2020 at 17:00 (Korean Standard Time). It will be chaired by Boram Kim of ICHCAP and moderated by Dr. Hanhee Hahm of Chonbuk National University (Republic of Korea), featuring presentations by Dr. Neel Kamal Chapagain of Ahmedabad University (India), Kristal Buckley of Deakin University (Australia), Danilo Pesce of Polytechnic of Turin (Italy), and Dr. Nikhil Joshi of the National University of Singapore.