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Empowering citizen science practices and sustainability in the cultural heritage sector: The CitizenHeritage project

Cultural heritage institutions are constantly exploring new ways to involve citizens in their activities. The CitizenHeritage project investigates the necessary elements for the cultural sector to move from crowdsourcing to active citizen science engagement.

Published onApr 27, 2023
Empowering citizen science practices and sustainability in the cultural heritage sector: The CitizenHeritage project


Recently - and especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic - user engagement, crowdsourcing, and digital participation have been widely adopted in the heritage sector, becoming distinctive elements in the shift to the new age of Culture 3.0. In this context, cultural institutions strengthened their online presence by increasing their digital collections' availability and re-usability and maximizing audience interaction. However, the status of community contribution is not always clear, and its role in heritage science is not made explicit. 

Based on an overview of best methods in cultural heritage participatory practices, the CitizenHeritage project aims at taking the citizen science approach to the world of cultural heritage, creating new opportunities to reach out to broader audiences and facilitate community building. The intent of the project is to provide Higher Education institutions with the appropriate methodological approaches to acknowledge the importance of users' contributions and conform to the open science FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) principles. Moreover, it intends to provide sustainable tools to include citizen science about heritage - such as citizen participation, crowdsourcing, and co-creation - into GLAM practices as well as Higher Education programs, teaching, and learning activities in order to train future heritage professionals in applying these approaches in their future career, in and outside academia, and to adopt a more visible and vibrant role in civil society and heritage communities.

The initiative also actively contributes to the development and testing of new methods and activities, making use of large European digital collections that help to highlight the relevance and power of cultural diversity. While the cultural heritage professionals of tomorrow – students and PhDs – are a vital target audience both in terms of developing and transferring the insights gained through the project, other stakeholder communities are involved in the initiative too, including amateur culture enthusiasts and non-specialized European citizens.

The project is co-financed by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union and based on the collaboration between three universities (KU Leuven, National Technical University of Athens, and Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam), two Europeana domain aggregators (Photoconsortium and European Fashion Heritage Association), and one specialized SME (Web2Learn).


Author biography

Roberta Pireddu (KU Leuven) is a research assistant at the Cultural Studies research group of the Faculty of Arts, where she collaborates with the European Union funded project DETECt. She has recently earned a MSc in Digital Humanities at KU Leuven. Previously, she graduated from the University of Freiburg with a MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and from the University of Milan with a BA in History. Her research interests include the role of MOOCs in the context of digital education and teaching as well as the user's engagement and interaction with cultural heritage. She collaborated as a MOOC developer on the DETECt and inDICEs projects and she is currently collaborating on the CitizenHeritage project.

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