The Forum has its roots in the recommendations of a House of Lords Select Committee report on Science and Heritage (2006), the Science and Heritage Programme (AHRC, EPSRC 2007/12) and the National Heritage Science Strategy (2010). A follow-up report to the House of Lords Select Committee report that recognised the potential for the Forum to act as a collective voice for the heritage science community and a means of stimulating collaboration was published in 2012.
In 2006, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee held an inquiry into Science and Heritage (see report). Among its recommendations published later that year was that 'the heritage sector should come together in developing a broad-based national strategy for heritage science'. They called for the strategy to be developed as a 'bottom up' strategy with considerable input from the users and doers of heritage science, so that the many institutions that play a part in the heritage science sector can share a sense of ownership'.
National Heritage Science Strategy
A National Heritage Science Strategy Steering Group comprising members of academic and heritage organisations was set up with the support of English Heritage, and three reports were commissioned:
- The Role of Science in the Management of the UK Heritage
- The Use of Science to Enhance our Understanding of the Past
- Understanding Capacity in the Heritage Science Sector
The National Heritage Science Strategy was published in 2010 based on these reports.
The Strategy has two main aims:
- To demonstrate the public benefit of heritage science; to increase public engagement and support for it
- To improve partnership within the sector and with others by increasing collaboration, to help practice make better use of research, knowledge and innovation, and to enhance resources, funding and skills
The role of the National Heritage Science Forum is to act as vehicle to deliver the Strategy to 'users' and 'doers' of heritage science.
House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Science and Heritage Follow-Up
The House of Lords Science and Technology Science and Heritage follow-up took place in 2012 (see the report). The Lords 'recognise[d] that [the Forum] has significant potential as a collective voice and vehicle for leadership of the heritage science community, and as a means of stimulating collaboration between members of the community'.
For more information, see the audio and video links from the Science and Technology Select Committee.
Developing the Forum
The AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme received additional funds from the AHRC to enable the Forum to be launched. Dr Rowena Banerjea was appointed as the Forum Coordinator in November 2011. A Transitional Board operated between 2011 and 2013 comprising members of the NHSS Steering Group, members of the Science and Heritage Programme Advisory Group, and Forum members.
In October 2013, the National Heritage Science Forum was granted charitable status (registered charity number 1154160). The Forum's activities are led by its Board of Trustees and supported by an administrator. Membership of the Forum continues to grow and a current list of member institutions is available here.