UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks

unesco chairs1What is a UNESCO Chair?
A UNESCO Chair is established for an initial period of four years by means of an agreement between UNESCO and a university or any other institution of higher education and/or research, to initiate programmes that advance teaching, learning and research in areas that are a priority for UNESCO. A Chair may be created to institute a new teaching and research unit, or to strengthen an existing teaching or research programme while giving it an international dimension. In consultation with UNESCO, a Chair holder is appointed to lead the activities of the Chair.

What is a UNITWIN Network?

A UNITWIN Network consists of a number of universities in different countries that join forces and collectively sign a joint agreement with UNESCO to cooperate in an area that is a priority for the Organization. Each participating institution may or may not have an individual UNESCO Chair. Through this partnership, UNESCO fosters university twinning and networking for North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation with the aim of addressing needs in the development context.

In order to achieve its mission and to build peace and sustainable development, UNESCO relies on a diverse set of collaborative partnerships. UNITWIN Networks and UNESCO Chairs, along with other UNESCO strategic partners, play an important role in extending the reach and effectiveness of UNESCO’s programme. There are currently more than eighty UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks attached to the UNESCO Culture Sector. In the field of culture, they contribute to protecting, promoting and transmitting our heritage, as well as fostering creativity and the diversity of cultural expressions, through capacity-building, knowledge-sharing and research.

UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks must be aligned with UNESCO’s priorities and contribute to implementing them. In particular, they can contribute to the promotion and implementation of UNESCO’s six culture conventions. They can also reach out to civil society and local communities, as well as policy and decision-makers, to promote and advocate the Organization’s mission and programme to protect and promote cultural heritage, creativity and the diversity of cultural expressions. As such, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme provides a platform for global governance of knowledge production, dissemination and application in the relevant fields.

The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme offers higher education and research institutions a platform for peaceful and constructive dialogue as well as valuable opportunities for sharing knowledge and exchanging experiences at the global level. UNITWIN Networks and UNESCO Chairs can benefit from UNESCO’s global outreach, visibility and reputation, as well as from its expertise in intellectual cooperation. They can use a special
logo designed by UNESCO to illustrate their links with the Organization. Moreover, UNESCO offers partner institutions the opportunity to interact with global and regional - as well as national - policy and decision-makers and other key stakeholders in UNESCO’s fields of competence.

UNESCO Chairs serve as think tanks for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of information. By means of numerous activities through its interuniversity network, such as workshops, exhibitions, publications, training courses, projects and international seminars, the UNESCO Chair Forum University and Heritage of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) serves as a hub for the academic and professional community, linking researchers and practitioners in the field of heritage in various ways, including the publication of a newsletter.

The UNESCO Chair in Cultural Heritage and Risk Management at Ritsumeikan University (Japan) leads research activities in the field of risk management. Through detailed research and networking at both domestic and international level, it has implemented an international training programme on disaster mitigation for cultural heritage.

UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks serve to create new and innovative teaching programmes. For instance, with a view to strengthening capacities in the Balkans and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions, one of the major objectives of the UNESCO Chair in Studies of Interculturalism, Art and Cultural Management and Mediation in the Balkans at the University of Arts in Belgrade (Serbia) is to provide postgraduate training to improve knowledge and skills in the Balkans in the areas of cultural policy and management.

Through interuniversity networks, UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks pool their human and material resources and may evolve into poles of excellence and innovation. The UNESCO Chair/UNITWIN Network ‘Culture, Tourism, Development’ at the Paris-Sorbonne University (France) fosters subregional, regional and interregional cooperation between high-level researchers and professors, creating a worldwide system of collaboration among universities in the fields of culture, tourism and development.

The UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology, coordinated by Flinders University (Australia), has carried out numerous research and training activities in maritime archaeology, ranging from submerged prehistoric sites to modern historic shipwrecks. This has been achieved through a network composed of twenty-one institutions, spread all around the world. The institutions raise public awareness and act as
bridge-builders between the academic world, civil society, local communities, researchers and policy-makers. They also promote international academic cooperation and student exchange.

One of the main objectives of the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat and Sustainable Development at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, New Delhi (India), which specializes in cultural and sustainable development, is to promote North-South-South cooperation in this field through interuniversity networks in a spirit of international solidarity. The Chair carries out multiple activities with the goal of sharing knowledge and developing reflection upon this subject.

In cooperation with the National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO field office – where there is one – universities or higher education research institutions must prepare and submit to UNESCO a detailed project proposal, which has to meet a number of criteria ranging from quality, relevance and alignment with UNESCO’s priorities to networking, partnerships and sustainability. The proposal should be accompanied by a letter of support from the National Commission, a letter from the Rector/Vice-Chancellor/President of the university proposing the establishment of the UNESCO Chair/Cooperation Programme, and supporting documents from institutional and financial partners. The deadline for application is 30 April each year. Review and analysis of the proposals are undertaken by UNESCO. If the proposal is approved by the Selection Committee, an agreement is signed between UNESCO and the institution(s) establishing the new UNESCO Chair/Cooperation Programme for an initial period of four years. The work of the Chair or Network is regularly assessed by UNESCO. It is required to submit a mid-term progress report to the Organization two years after its establishment, followed by a final report two years later. The head of the institution hosting the UNESCO Chair or coordinating the activities of the Network may request the renewal of the agreement for an additional period of four years. The agreement is renewed every four years at the request of the host institution of a UNESCO Chair or UNITWIN Network, subject to submission of the final report, evaluation of the work completed and the availability of appropriate funding. The UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks are allowed to use a specific logo created in consultation with UNESCO, using a template for a model logo developed by UNESCO. The use of the logo is limited to the period of the agreement.For more details, please refer to the Guidelines and Procedures for the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, available on the UNESCO website

Brochure on UNESCO Chairs

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