Cyprus University of Technology to establish UNESCO Chair in Digital Cultural Heritage / Cultural Informatics

Cyprus University of Technology to establish UNESCO Chair in Digital Cultural Heritage / Cultural Informatics

The Cyprus University of Technology / Τεχνολογικό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου has been invited by UNESCO to join its prestigious universities network and establish the first ever UNESCO Chair in Digital Cultural Heritage / Cultural Informatics – MNEMOSYNE.

The Rector of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), Andreas Anayiotos verified on the 8th of March 2018 the UNESCO agreement for the establishment of the first worldwide UNESCO Chair on Digital Heritage/Cultural Informatics, in Limassol, Cyprus and appointed as the UNESCO Chairholder and Director, Dr. Marinos Ioannides. The name of the UNESCO Chair is Mnemosyne. According to the Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was the goddess of memory and the mother of the nine Muses, who were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the science, in literature and the arts.

The main scope of this unique Chair is to extend the successful work of the Digital Heritage Research Lab (www.digitalheritagelab.eu) and address a full range of key aspects of novel research and innovative developments such as:

- the documentation and analysis of cultural heritage data for both tangible and intangible heritage;
- technical areas, including 3D virtual environments, archives and collections management systems, web and museum based interactive applications and language technologies;
- non-technical areas, including testing, economic and social impact evaluation in support of the development of the cultural heritage sector and its opportunities in tourism, entertainment and education;

The establishment of this exceptional Chair will complement this by introducing and extending higher education programmes in Cultural Informatics, needed to enable CUT to work effectively and build bridges of cooperation in the region, within the European Union and in all the continents. This will lead to a substantial body of PhD and post-doctoral courses in key aspects of DCH, including multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and intersectoral research in the areas of digitization, data acquisition, processing, modelling, archiving, visualization, preservation and protection, analysis, interpretation, storytelling, use and re-use. Topics of emphasis will include: documentation (metadata, semantics, ontologies, linked data) and the applications of 3D/4D, Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and crowdsourcing/Citizen Science. The needs of audiences cultural organisations (archives, libraries, museums, monuments and sites) and the communities they serve, will be a primary focus, alongside those of people working in the field of Digital Humanities, including the issues of multilingualism that impact them.

The UNESCO Chairs program was established in 1992 following the relevant decision of the General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) taken at its 26th session.

The program was conceived as a way to advance research, training and programme development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders. Through this network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. In many instances, the networks and chairs serve as thinktanks and bridgebuilders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making. They have proven useful in informing policy decisions, establishing new teaching initiatives, generating innovation through research and contributing to the enrichment of existing university programmes while promoting cultural diversity. In areas lacking expertise, chairs and networks have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at regional or sub-regional levels.

A part from the research initiatives that they undertake, UNESCO Chairs provide educational opportunities in sectors that fall within the Organisation’s mandate and reflect the specific topics that each Chair has the responsibility to promote. They also organize and participate in conferences and activities organized by educational institutions of other member-states who host UNESCO Chairs and are evaluated and monitored for their work by UNESCO itself.

This year is dedicated in the EU to Cultural Heritage and has the slogan “Our heritage: where the past meets the future.”Our University will celebrate the Europe Day on the 8th of May 2018 in a special ceremony, with the kickoff of our UNESCO Chair.