Topic 3 - Cultural development : between heritage and innovation


9 september 2010 - Programme

The consumer society and globalisation, transmitted by the media and through publicity, have led to uniformity in our way of life, threatening local identities, as well as cultural diversity throughout the world. However, it appears certain (see the writings of Claude Levi-Strauss) that maintaining cultures and their diversity is an essential element of harmonious human development within our society, in recent years dominated by globalisation. According to those who drew up the ‘Agenda 21’ for culture, cultural diversity contributes to «intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual well-being for all».

Today, in the face of the levelling out of ways of life and the generalisation of a uniform culture threatening all kinds of cultural individuality, rural societies often stand out as being particularly rich in their concrete and abstract heritage.
As regards concrete heritage, Creole architecture, as well as industrial architecture, represent a heritage to be conserved and protected. This necessitates human and material resources, and requires innovative use of new technologies.

As far as abstract heritage is concerned, during the 20th century, in rural areas inherited skills and traditional know-how underwent less of an upheaval than in the industrial and urban zones. They need to be listed and developed or redeveloped. This necessitates training programs and knowledge to be handed down at grass roots level.

What actions should be applied in order to preserve these values and specific characteristics and also to avoid the dangers of a way of life not in harmony with the context ?
How is it possible to conserve the diversity of local cultural expression while opening out to the world and avoiding uniformity ?
How to encourage responsible citizenship, with people remaining aware of the wealth of their cultural heritage ?

More and more local and national government structures around the world are encouraging new models of cultural development where innovation and modernity are based on an inherited culture that integrates the values of local traditions. These new concepts, respecting the environmental context, existing social organisations and cultural foundations, are capable of rising to the challenge of a more harmonious and sustainable form of human development.



Three topics are proposed for the next European Rural University, which will take place on 7th, 8th and 9th September 2010 in Saint-Joseph :

- Europe at the service of the rural community and its inhabitants,
- Rural professions for women,
- Culture : between heritage and innovation.

16 November 2009