Conference speakers propose holistic approach to conserving culture, nature

Conference participants pose amid Jacaranda trees, iconic for Pretoria which is known as the Jacaranda City.
Conference participants pose amid Jacaranda trees, iconic for Pretoria which is known as the Jacaranda City. (Photo credit: EYEscape Studios/Culture in Crisis)

The benefits of both wildlife and heritage conservation were the focus of the 2018 “Culture in Crisis” Conference convened in October at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa.

Elisabeth Wolbers talks with Fredrick Nsibambi during the opening dinner of the Culture in Crisis Conference.
Elisabeth Wolbers, head of the Protection of Cultural Heritage section in the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, talks with Fredrick Nsibambi, heritage programmes manager at the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda, during the opening dinner of the Culture in Crisis Conference. (Photo credit: EYEscape Studios/Culture in Crisis)

The event was co-hosted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Yale’s Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives, and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs supported the conference by supporting travel stipends for 25 African scholars. Additionally, the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale facilitated the participation of the four Yale participants.

The conference centered on a series of satellite events all aimed at fostering greater understanding for how the confluence of conservation and preservation can serve to protect environmental and cultural heritages of the world.

The ongoing Culture in Crisis conference series, which originally kicked off in 2015, aims to develop academic and professional partnerships through a network of individuals and organizations who resolve to protect the world’s cultural heritage by sharing expertise across a variety of disciplines to combat numerous global threats.

The various speakers at the Pretoria meeting highlighted the value of the two parallel branches of conservation — wildlife and heritage — and how adopting successful, sustainable development can be achieved on both national and international levels. Conference participants also addressed the impact of the loss of environmental and cultural heritage on societies, and the positive role that conservation can play. They discussed the value of taking a cross-disciplinary approach and a holistic view of protecting heritage, whether cultural or environmental. And finally, they reflected on experiences in conservation within a wider African context, examining the value of wildlife and heritage conservation during recovery from conflict or crisis.

Yale's Stefan Simon engages with with Prof. Norman Duncan, vice-principal of the University of Pretoria.
Stefan Simon (right), director of Global Cultural Heritage Initiatives at Yale University, engages with with Prof. Norman Duncan, vice-principal of the University of Pretoria. (Photo credit: EYEscape Studios/Culture in Crisis)

The conference concluded with participants recognizing that the complementary and inseparable co-existence of both nature and culture within heritage landscapes should foster greater collaboration between practitioners from all fields.

Taking the view that animals, the environment, and humans are all interrelated, the speakers urged greater collaboration between practitioners from all fields, noting that sharing expertise across professional and disciplinary boundaries may advance a more effective and sustainable heritage management. 

All lectures conducted during the conference were video-recorded and are available for viewing here. 

Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale and Africa: Empowering through partnership

Media Contact

Adam Gaber: adam.gaber@yale.edu, 203-436-5449