Open Cultural Heritage Scholarship

Which are new research directions and business opportunities at the intersection of open scholarship and cultural heritage?

CHALLENGE 

Open scholarship is commonly seen as a public good, and increasingly as a public right. Openness in research, when correctly mediated and supported, can have transformative effects. Open scholarship implies new higher education and business models, considering complex issues such as licensing and cultural sensitivity and sustainability. Cultural heritage business is wrestling with the opportunities and risks of increasing openness of data e.g. our own work on personal 3D printing and its implications for museums. We contend that open scholarship can enhance the core revenue of these businesses, offsetting lost licensing revenues. We also believe that such activities support accessibility to cultural heritage and engage non-traditional demographics. 

However, there are issues that commonly limit the realisation of benefits to open sharing of research – namely the digital divide, accessibility (e.g. in terms of disability), academic cultures of reward and recognition, and models for funding research and publication. Increasingly there are also political agendas that do not reflect this idealised perspective or the premise of the value of higher education. Therefore this workshop is reflecting on the context of open cultural heritage scholarship. It will also seek to bring together experts problematizing the idea of open cultural heritage scholarship as a necessary good, considering issues such as the embedding of bias in open data or the co-construction of knowledge.

Whilst we would argue that knowledge should be accessible, it should also be valued, exchanged and earned: this then presents an opportunity for entrepreneurial cultural heritage industries and for the creative digital sector.

PURPOSES

By discussing activities in many higher education and memory institutions we are identifying economic opportunities for businesses mobilising open education (e.g. via Massive Open Online Courses), open research data, citizen science and through connections to broadcast media. Open scholarship also requires sharing of practices around data governance, exemplified in the area of cultural property, and engagement with relevant authorities. These issues and activities exceed national borders and the capabilities of any one organisation to supply even a small fraction of the solutions. Open scholarship serves as a growing disrupting influence, with activities such as open sharing of research data as they are generated, through provision of open tools and workflow documentation, and mediated citizen science research. Pressure from funding councils, charities and national agencies for open access is also supporting a parallel revolution in open education. This perfect storm, or as some have described it, an “avalanche”, is impacting strongly across the higher education community. Through this workshop we are seeking to interrogate concrete examples of supporting and benefitting from open scholarship, in the context of (digital) cultural heritage.

OVERVIEW

The Workshop was divided in the following parts:

  1. Presentations from delegates on the research side connected to the Open Cultural Heritage Scholarship area
  2. Visit to heritage sites.
    Appropriate site visits were arranged for the participants including visits to Byodoin-temple and the museum, Nagae Family Residence and Nijo Castle.
  3. Presentations from delegates on the industry side connected to the Open Cultural Heritage Scholarship area
  4. Thinkathon and future directions

Appropriate guest speakers both internal and external to the RENKEI network were invited to provide presentations on specific areas related to the theme of the workshop. 

The presentations were aimed at providing background as well as provoking discussion and opening opportunities for further collaboration.

OUTCOMES

Cross fertilisation of ideas and thoughts relative to industrial collaboration were clear from the workshop as was the development of closer working relationships with RENKEI universities attending.

The programme developed a better understanding of research expertise available at RENKEI, Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) institutions and industry creating a truly interdisciplinary and global network of experts. 

Attendees were provided with privileged exposure to cutting edge technologies and research taking place in UK and Japan and at all other Universities represented. In addition they had insights into current industry partnerships with colleagues in museums and into funding opportunities thanks to the contribution of the UK Science and Innovation Network Representative. 

Links to UK organisations supporting work with Japanese colleagues were strengthened. Links made to those organisations able to fund this work (Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation) will be particularly useful going forward. 

Emphasis on a two way flow (dialogue and discussion) was important through the course of the programme and attendees were enthusiastic about collaborative and interdisciplinary work, as well as having a keen interest in developing links with industry. 

Key actions and areas of collaboration in going forward were discussed and looked as if this would be possible in the following areas:

  • Blockchain and open data
  • Training 
  • Cultural Heritage standards and open data

COORDINATING UNIVERSITIES

  • Ritsumeikan University
  • University of Southampton 
  • Newcastle University 

ENQUIRIES

renkei@britishcouncil.or.jp

External links