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What is heritage?

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What is heritage? This free course will introduce you to the concept of heritage and its critical study, exploring the role of heritage in both past and contemporary societies.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the global scope of heritage
  • understand the ‘material’ and ‘non-material’ aspects of heritage
  • recognise heritage as a ‘process’ as well as a ‘product’ of certain activities in the present
  • recognise heritage studies as a specific field of study
  • understand the idea of the authorised heritage discourse (AHD).

By: The Open University

  • Duration 10 hours
  • Updated Thursday 28th July 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Heritage
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What is heritage?


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This course introduces the concept of heritage and examines its various uses in contemporary society. It then provides a background to the development of critical heritage studies as an area of academic interest, and in particular the way in which heritage studies has developed in response to various critiques of contemporary politics and culture in the context of deindustrialisation, globalisation and transnationalism. Drawing on a case study in the official documentation surrounding the Harry S. Truman Historic Site in Missouri, USA, it describes the concept of authorised heritage discourses (AHD) in so far as they are seen to operate in official, state-sanctioned heritage initiatives.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 2 study in Arts and Humanities [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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