Societal challenges and heritage science research

Our Member Meeting in December 2020 focused on discussion of five proposed societal challenges for heritage science research.

This year's NHSF Member Meeting on the strategic framework theme of Excellent Research built on the outcome of the 2019 meeting that agreed the need to identify 'Grand Challenges' for heritage science research to prompt people to think about the relevance of heritage science to society both in the research questions that are asked as well as the way that research is practised.

In advance of the meeting the Research Working Group drafted a provocation paper: Heritage Science and Societal Challenges: how relevant is your research? (pdf) which proposed five societal challenges

  • Improved wellbeing
  • Digital society
  • Climate emergency
  • Equality and inclusivity
  • Sustainable development

At the meeting on 10th December, members heard from five speakers who had been asked to give lightning presentations on work they are involved in to provide strategic context for thinking about how heritage science links to the societal challenges.


  • Dr Jamie Davies (AHRC) JPI on Cultural Heritage Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (2020)

Presentation: JPI-CH Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, 2020 (pdf)
Link: JPI-CH Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, 2020

  • Lizzie Glithero-West (The Heritage Alliance) Heritage, Health and Wellbeing

Presentation: Heritage, Health and Wellbeing (pdf)
Link: Heritage Alliance Heritage, Health and Wellbeing report

  • Dr Ewan Hyslop (Historic Environment Scotland) Climate Heritage Network

Link: Climate Heritage Network

  • Dr Sonia Raikova (EPSRC) Digital Economy Theme and Sustainable Digital Society

Presentation: Digital Economy - sustainable and equitable digital society priorities (pdf)
Link: EPSRC Digital Economy theme

  • Alison Heritage (ICCROM) Heritage Science and Sustainable Development Goals

Link: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Through group discussion and breakout sessions members focused on considering the challenges in terms of research strategies, research practice, and the future partnerships that will help to address these big issues. 

A summary of the event is available here: Societal Challenges for Heritage Science Research - Member Meeting discussions, 10th December 2020 (pdf)

Members will refine the provocation paper (above) at the next Research Working Group meeting in January 2021 and agree how the paper can be used to engage the wider heritage sector in a discussion about the research questions that it wants heritage science research to address.