The Heritage and Social Innovation Observatory (HESIOD) is a platform aiming to identify, analyse, give visibility and disseminate socially innovative experiences in the field of cultural heritage: museums, collaborative projects, innovation labs, community centres, shared workspaces, co-creation, co-production, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding processes, etc. Hesiod is part of a non-profit research project developed at Oxford and UCL universities.
Social innovation are new ideas or processes (products, services and models) that meet various social needs and contribute as well to the creation of new relationships and/or collaborations. In other words, these are good innovations for society and at the same time they improve its capacity to act.
Social Innovation + Cultural Heritage
In the field of cultural heritage, we use the term Social Innovation when the following factors meet:
- New solutions -products, services, models, processes- are created complying best with the objectives of conservation, management, dissemination, defence or enhancement of cultural heritage.
- Social needs are met, such as the access to: education, science and knowledge, culture, quality and non-offshoring employment, new technologies, participation and democracy, environmental conservation, sustainable development, social inclusion, integration and gender equality.
- New types of relationships are created, improving the society’s capacity to act. It incorporates itself to the citizenship as an active agent in innovation processes.
What is (or is not) social innovation in the field of cultural heritage?
Here are some examples
|Action||Does it improve any aspect in cultural heritage management?||Is it an innovation?||Is it a social innovation?||Classification|
|A museum implements a QR code next to the artworks exhibited to enable access to all the information of the collection via cell phone or tablet||Yes, it improves the quality of the service provided to visitors (dissemination)||No. The invention of the QR code is the real innovation. It is an innovation for the organisation, in this case a museum, by assimilation.||No, because although it satisfies a social need (access to knowledge), this is not done in an innovative way and, on top of that, it does not imply any type of social and relational transformation, neither does it imply an increase in society’s capacity to act||Improvement|
|A museum invents a new management system for its collection that improves its energetic cost saving efficiency||Yes, in general it improves the quality of the service provided (in preservation, dissemination)||Yes. Because it implements a new idea that did not exist before||No, because although it improves a service that contributes indirectly to meet a social need (access to knowledge), it does not imply any type of social transformation or the creation of new types of relationships, neither does it imply an increase in society’s capacity to act||Innovation|
|An administration starts up a dissemination of cultural heritage project in a territory where it didn’t exist before. During the elaboration and execution process of the project, the local population is included in the decision making bodies||Yes, because a new management system is created that didn’t exist before (dissemination)||Yes, because it starts up a new way of proceeding (incorporating the local population)||Yes, because it helps to meet a social need -access to knowledge-, and at the same time it implies the creation of new types of relationships and collaborations as well as an increase of society’s capacity to act.||Social innovation|
|A company creates a crowdfunding online platform to finance projects in order to contribute to a better preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage||Yes, it enables the acquisition of resources for the projects related to cultural heritage management, thus improving the processes and services||Yes, because it starts up a new process (crowdfunding) and a new model (online platform)||Yes, because it contributes to the creation of new types of relationships and collaborations and, at the same time, it increases the capacity of the organisations related to cultural heritage to act, thus improving the services rendered to society||Social innovation|
|A group of neighbours starts up a community museum for the defence and promotion of cultural heritage in its territory||Yes, because it enhances the heritage of a territory||Yes, because a new (community) process is set up that didn’t exist before||Yes, because it contributes to the creation of new types of relationships and collaborations and at the same time it increases society’s capacity to act||Social innovation|
Conduct a basic research through questionnaires, fieldwork and case studies in order to know where, how and who innovates socially in the field of cultural heritage
Build a community of innovators
Create an online platform through which socially innovative initiatives are more visible, they can be interconnected, cooperate, create networking and share experiences
Mapping and analysis
Move to an online map this information to have a geographical analysis tool. Carry out comparative studies between different cases, regions or countries
Enter the debate on cultural heritage and social innovation in the society and academic world, by means of organizing and participating in conferences and scientific meetings
The Heritage and Social Innovation Observatory is launched for an initial period of two years (2015-2016), structured in the following blocks of tasks:
Design and implementation of a general survey on the state of social innovation in organisations dedicated to management, conservation, protection and dissemination of heritage. In this phase the information will be obtained through a closed questionnaire
Data processing and analysis of results and selection of specific socially innovative cases for a more detailed study via qualitative strategies and fieldwork. Creation of an online platform to share the information obtained
Organisation of workshops and conferences, as an open meeting space for administrations, organisations, social entrepreneurs and experts to analyse, discuss and share the issues object of research. Participation in international events
Create an international network of researchers and social innovators in the field of cultural heritage. Evaluate the usefulness of the results, consider new challenges. Schedule a future phase of consolidation, extension and improvement of HESIOD
Leading the project
Dr. Jesús Fernández received his PhD at the University of Oviedo (Spain). Since 2008 he is director of different archaeological fieldworks and member of several research projects in various universities. From 2012 onwards, he is a social entrepreneur and director of an archaeological-museological community project in Asturias (Spain): La Ponte-Ecomuseum.
Currently he is a postdoctoral researcher (Marie Curie Cofund) in Oxford University for the period 2015-2016, and Honorary Research Associate in the Institute of Archaeology (University College London). His work is centred in social innovation in cultural heritage and cultural landscapes.more about
The main goal of the Heritage & SociaI Innovation Questionnaire is to assess the state of social innovation in cultural heritage through the organisations, institutions and projects related to its management, conservation and dissemination.
Estimated time to complete the questionnaire is approximately 15 minutes. The data provided will be published in this map (link) under a Creative Commons license. The aim is to expand both knowledge and information about socially innovative projects, give visibility to the participating initiatives, facilitate their interconnection and build a community of social innovators in the field of cultural heritage.
Thank you for your collaboration.