The Centre for Global Heritage and Development, with the assistance of ICTO, the platform for innovation and education at Leiden University, is creating a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the topic of threatened heritage. Together with researchers from the Faculty of Archaeology, Law and Social Sciences of Leiden University and Delft Technical University a program is set up for an online learning course covering all agents that threaten heritage, ranging from mass-tourism, looting, destruction and disaster. There will be special focus on the topic of heritage and indigenous rights. 

The MOOC is relevant to (Honours) students of Archaeology, Heritage Studies, Landscape History and (Architectural) History (MA/RMA and PhD level), Anthropology and Law. It is also aimed at specialists as well as the general public on a global level (e.g. indigenous peoples, people who cannot access academic class rooms) with a view to raising awareness on heritage under destruction. 

The MOOC will be developed under the coordination of dr. Sada Mire of the Dept. of World Heritage of the Faculty of Archaeology, who is an expert on contested heritage and indigenous rights to cultural heritage. The MOOC will be developed in the coming months and will be accessible through Coursera in the second half of 2016. 

This is the trailer of the MOOC Heritage under Threat: 



SIMBDEA (Società Italiana per la Museografia e i Beni Demoetnoantropologici 

The Italian Society for Museum and Heritage Anthropology



Simbdea was founded in 2001 and its members are scholars, professionals, amateurs and volunteers who put the anthropological perspective and ethnographic methodologies at the service of the documentation, production, enhancement and dissemination of multiple informed views on museums and (tangible and intangible) heritage, which we see as the crucial sites where to engage in activities of intercultural education, shared cultural production, and experimental practices of representation.

We aim to serve our community by strengthening and updating their theoretical and methodological tools, sharing anthropological knowledge and ethnographic experience, as well as by advocating (at the national and international level) for the safeguarding and enhancing of cultural heritage and the respect of both its bearers and professionals. 

In particular, we engage in disseminating awareness of the distinctive value of the anthropological and ethnographic perspectives applied to the field of heritage, where they promote the access of so-called “minor”, or “alien” cultural resources to the existing value systems, so that they also may enrich both the substance and our understanding of the cultural heritage we share and contribute to build the foundations of richer and more harmonious future societies.   

The journal Antropologia Museale (Museum Anthropology) has been serving our community since 2002, supporting and fostering our ongoing dialogues with other non-governmental organizations of museum scholars, professionals, and amateurs that apply different perspectives to heritage and museums all over the world.

Simbdea has always promoted a broad and unitary vision of heritage, with no distinction between its tangible and intangible expression. We view cultural heritage as the site of active, multiplex, and polyphonic contemporary processes shaping past and present human relations and conveying visions of possible futures. 

In 2004, we entered the Conferenza permanente delle associazioni museali italiane (a permanent forum created by ICOM-Italy for the major Italian organizations of museum professionals to join), where from we adhered to the process leading to the Seoul Declaration of ICOM on the Intangible Heritage, well known to have led to the introduction of intangible heritage into ICOM's official definition of the museum:

“A museum is a non-profit making permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the tangible and intangible evidence of people and their environment”.

By explicitly adhering to Unesco's 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, ICOM fostered the international dialogue among cultures and put museums also at the service of the construction of a global platform for the exchange of reflections on the interconnectedness of human societies. 

In 2007, Italy ratified the 2003 Unesco Convention, and Simbdea engaged in local and national activities that promoted the dissemination of knowledge of the spirit of the legislation and the enhancement of intangible cultural heritage, while creating opportunities for exchanges between the national institutions and the heritage bearers. In 2007, we organized a major national event titled “I musei per il patrimonio immateriale” (Museums for Intangible Heritage), to which 375 Italian museums collaborated, culminating in a variety of shared performances and talks that were hosted at the Vittoriano, in the historical heart of Rome.

In 2009, Simbdea was among the non-governmental organizations to be accredited by Unesco for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, and since then we join as observers its intergovernmental committee sessions and, in 2012, we created an internal division specifically dedicated to intangible cultural heritage, denominated Simbdea-ICH.

These are our primary objectives:

  • To favor the participation of socio-cultural anthropologists in social and institutional activities and processes related to the safeguarding and enhancement of the intangible cultural heritage, both in Italy and abroad;


  • To promote bottom-up politics of recognition and enhancement of the role of local cultures, and create opportunities for different actors to share knowledge and processes, so as to move beyond visions that see Unesco's “lists” as ends to themselves and favor the real spirit of the 2003 Convention, which may be better interpreted by privileging good practices, multinational candidatures, and the construction of networks of intercultural dialogue;  


  • To disseminate awareness and knowledge of the international legal instruments that relate to intangible cultural heritage, and engage in a close dialogue with the experts of international law so as to highlight the relations between culture and human rights and promote cultural rights (in 2013, Simbdea also received accreditation to participate as observer in the sessions of the WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore);


  • To encourage the exchanges among different perspectives and methodologies and create opportunities for widely shared cultural ventures;


  • To promote the creation of an Italian network of organizations for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage that would foster the dialogue among the different professionals and cultural institutions worldwide, in line with the spirit of the first two articles of the 2003 Convention's mission and its Operational Directives.

Simbdea on ichngoforum website

Simbdea, società italiana per la museografia e i beni demoetnoantropologici.

c/o Museo internazionale delle marionette Antonio Pasqualino
Piazzetta Antonio Pasqualino 5 - 90133 Palermo

CF: 03251180406

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