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Developing competences for natural and cultural heritage conservation through ECHOE
When visiting heritage sites the classic approach of a guide usually is a “one way transfer of information”. Also heritage education usually focuses on one learning level only: knowledge.  A more complete and in ... read more.

Education for Heritage – Outdoor Education
ECHOE is an international education project, co-funded by the LLP-Grundtvig action. In ECHOE the project partners seek to combine heritage education and outdoor education into an effective blend for adult learning. The project offers material and methods ... read more.

Developing competences for natural and cultural heritage conservation through ECHOE
When visiting heritage sites the classic approach of a guide usually is a “one way transfer of information”. Also heritage education usually focuses on one learning level only: knowledge.  A more complete and integrated approach to heritage education, comprising also other important learning outcomes, is getting more and more indispensable also since learning, training and competence development is moving outside the classrooms and outside formal education.
ECHOE is an international education project, co-funded by the LLP-Grundtvig action. In ECHOE the project partners seek to combine heritage education and outdoor education into an effective blend for adult learning. The project offers material and methods to help adult educators and heritage guides use a built and natural heritage environment as a non-formal learning context for developing a broad pallet of competences. A competence driven approach to heritage and outdoor education can let people learn in a pleasant way and develop personal and social competences that are relevant in other situations in everyday life. This is a good basis for Lifelong Learning.

The ECHOE approach to natural and cultural heritage conservation
Heritage conservation policy and practice nowadays follow a sequence of steps each involving a separate sphere of professionals and stakeholders, often with little interplay among them. The different aspects of conservation activities often remain separate and not integrated and are not linked to the local community or other social contexts.

An ECHOE approach to conservation processes of cultural and natural heritage on the other hand could contribute to develop new forms of cultural attendance of people through activities which embody a more participatory and respectful experience of cultural and natural heritage. This approach would involve a participatory learning process and goes along with competence development in the field of natural and cultural conservation, delivering important learning outcomes which insist on the social dimension of preservation.

ECHOE sees conservation as a conscious collective action led by the sense of belonging to a place and the deep awareness of the importance of natural and cultural heritage preservation aiming at taking care of all those tangible and intangible aspects of a place which constitute our cultural background and natural environment. It is intended to become a social process in which cultural operators, adult educators, professionals from the field of heritage preservation, policy makers and the whole community are involved and engaged in preserving the remains of their common past making it live in the present.

Integrating and contextualizing the spheres and work of conservation and combining it with adult education offers a tremendous educational potential. Conservation should be understood not only as a self-contained science or technological endeavour but rather as a social practice, a social process, one that includes the work of many individuals and groups. The conservation process should be interpreted more inclusively, encompassing the recognition of the value of heritage, a better education about it, the many efforts of individuals and social groups to be its stewards, the awareness of the importance of such a process.

The C.L.A.P. Project in the Amalfi Coast

At the Amalfi coast in Italy the Società Geografica Italiana launched the ‘Cultural Landscape Adoption Project’ (C.L.A.P.), supported by the European ‘Life’ programme. The project aims to sustain the preservation of the terraced landscape and the environmental values of the Amalfi coast. These terraces represent a peculiarity of a territorial context, included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites and constitute what is commonly called a “cultural landscape”. Terraces are important also because they stabilize the slopes, preventing landslides and allowing the soil to keep humidity even in long periods of drought. They were abandoned and on their way to collapse, after the crisis of the agronomic activities.

C.L.A.P. can be seen as an ECHOE-type approach to heritage conservation. The project can be divided into three main categories: information, awareness and involvement actions; education actions and technical-organizational actions. The education actions addressed to farmers aim at spreading the eco-sustainable techniques of cultivation, the preservation or the restoration of the typical agronomic structures of the Amalfi coast and the knowledge of cultivation and maintenance interventions which can contribute to preserve the terraces’ biodiversity. The education actions addressed to tourists intend to promote an in-depth knowledge on biodiversity and on the cultural value of the landscape of the Amalfi Coast and the correct behaviours to preserve it. The envisaged project results are: environmental and landscape restoration, raising the awareness and involvement of farmers, improving the awareness and direct educational involvement of adult learners, involvement of the local community and local social fabric in the process, requests for adoption of terraced areas.

What are the learning outcomes of ECHOE-type heritage and outdoor education activities, linked to heritage conservation?

Adding integrated and participative learning to heritage conservation processes can contribute to the development of a number of competences like valuing heritage, competences in the field of environment or sustainability, participation and citizenship competences, practical and technical competences, social competences … 

Competences consist of three interrelated ingredients: a knowledge component, a behavioural component and a value component. As such a competence is seen as the ability to apply a synthesis of knowledge, skills and attitudes in a particular situation and with a particular quality. This means that it is not only important what we know about things, but also what we are able to do with this knowledge and whether or not we are motivated to do something with it.
In the realm of heritage conservation we can define some elements of competences that can be developed through ECHOE-type heritage and outdoor education activities.

a) Knowledge.
The first learning outcome, is the acquisition of knowledge about cultural and natural heritage and the main current issues related to its preservation (science, history, deterioration, treatment of material heritage and for preserving intangible heritage). Educational approaches like ECHOE can lead to the development of other vital competences:
-           knowledge about behaviours and their impact on heritage conservation;
-           knowledge about the current preservation related problems and possible solutions;
-           knowledge of the value of tangible/intangible heritage and of its role for a personal cultural and social growth;
-           understanding the social benefits and opportunities that derive from heritage
conservation;
-           understanding the necessary social and administrative structures that leads to conservation
-           knowing the necessary scientific – technical elements for conservation
-           knowing the participatory structures in the local community for building on citizenship
reflexes 

b) Attitudes.
Having learned about the negative impact of a wrong use of heritage and having acquired practical information about how to avoid them, adult learners are supposed to change/adapt/improve their attitude towards their heritage. So, an ECHOE approach can also bring crucial learning outcomes in terms of attitudes:
-           valuing cultural and natural heritage;
-           a more developed sense of place;
-           feeling a stronger place attachment and rootedness;
-           consciousness of one’s environment/heritage and one’s own existence;
-           the need to give heritage the care it deserves;
-           sense of belonging to a community which shares a common heritage;
-           sense of ownership of the heritage in one’s place;
-           collaborative spirit;
-           respect for nature and/or the contexts and open spaces of everyday life;
-           value conservation;
-           openness to social participation
-           feeling the need to transmit the value of preserving to others.

c) Behaviours.
Having learned and acquired knowledge about a topic, having changed their attitude towards it, learners are supposed to act consistently with what they now know and feel as the better way to behave. 
-           To practice volunteering in heritage conservation and in raising funds for initiatives to that
end;
-           to interact, collaborate and network for heritage conservation;
-           to report emergencies for cultural/natural goods (i.e., if they are in a state of neglect) and/or other people’s harmful behaviours;
-           to make an eco-friendly use of heritage;
-           to engage in culture, heritage and nature issues;
-           to recognise the cultural and social role of heritage;
-           to recognize and imitate good behaviours in terms of heritage preservation.

The learning process as conceived by the ECHOE programme can lead to make heritage conservation a community’s need and in turn make it perceived by the community itself as everyone’s task. If this happens, this would mean that the main challenge for heritage preservation, i.e. acting on the whole community and making conservation a widespread, shared social process and not only a field for professionals and experts, would be successfully met by ECHOE-type education programmes.

Any ECHOE-type heritage and outdoor learning activity should start from the ‘site specific competence development potential’, the mission of the site and the objectives of the learning programme. “What can this place offer in terms of competence development? What do we want to achieve? How can we do that?” Competences could be situated in social integration, sustainability, citizenship, health issues… The ECHOE material also goes into these elements of adult learning and tries to give good examples.