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World Heritage and Universities

Higher education is crucial to the long-term preservation of World Heritage sites. As the World Heritage List grows, there is an urgent need for qualified professionals to manage every aspect of the sites, from conservation and preservation to monitory, to tourism and visitor flows as well as interaction with local authorities and communities.

The World Heritage Centre developed close relationships with universities that are committed to research and education for the protection, conservation and management of cultural and natural heritage through the following initiatives:

UNITWIN / UNESCO Chairs Programme on Heritage

Launched in 1992, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme promotes international inter-university cooperation through twinning and other inking arrangments among higher education academics and institutions throughout the world. The programme aims to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge-sharing, collaborative work and increased faculty and student mobility.

The Programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence, including Heritage.

List of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks related to Heritage





  • UNESCO Chair in Preventive Conservation, Monitoring and Maintenance of Monuments and Sites, The Catholic University of Leuven




Costa Rica











Republic of Korea


  • UNESCO Chair in Conservation of Cultural Properties Sciences, Mexico's National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museology



  • UNESCO Chair in the Conservation and Management of Historic Towns and Urban Centers, the National College of Arts, Lahore



  • UNESCO chair on Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism, University of San Martin de Porres, Lima



Russian Federation






United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


**More information on the UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks under the UNESCO Culture Sector is available at: http://en.unesco.org/partnerships/culture/unitwin/unesco-chairs-programme-in-culture

Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage International Network

Created by UNESCO in 1995, the network of Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage is a programme in favour of cultural and natural heritage conservation. It is placed under the common responsibility of World Heritage Centre of UNESCO and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV, Spain) (Click here for the leaflet).

As one of the success stories of cooperation through the UNESCO Chairs Programme, today it mobilises a wide informal network of higher education institutions and professionals, to undertake activities for enhancing the protection of the cultural and natural heritage.

There are two ways to become affiliated to this network: individually or institutionally.

Individual affiliation (Spanish version , French Version) to this network is free and simple. Academic staff, researchers, heritage professionals and students (above Masters level) may join the network on an individual basis. Individual members receive the FUUH monthly electronic newsletter informing them about worldwide news on natural and /or cultural activities. As an interactive communication tool, they are invited to send news about their respective activities, provided that they relate to heritage. These news are reflected in the next FUUH newsletter, thus providing members instant worldwide dissemination and visibility.

Institutional affiliation is made through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO and a University agree to work together in a spirit of cooperation to reinforce links between their institutions, and contribute to World Heritage research and knowledge .

This is accomplished through activities such as :

  • joint or team research projects
  • student or academic staff exchanges
  • consultancy services
  • organisation of meetings
  • sharing documentation and information.

Universities interested in working with the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO through signing a Memorandum of Understanding can contact the World Heritage Centre.

World Heritage Studies Programmes at Universities

Many universities worldwide offer coursework related to heritage studies, and a few programmes are specialised in World Heritage issues, including those listed below. This list is not exhaustive, and the World Heritage Centre does not recommend one over another. You can click on the link to visit the university's website; please contact the university directly for more information. Other programmes will be added here as they are established.