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Cultural Sustainability

Cultural sustainability is a vital component of our work at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Building on the awareness raised since the beginning of the century by a suite of UNESCO Declarations and Conventions, the Cultural Sustainability Research Group is at the heart of a shift from reified and ossified discourses of “preservation” to more dynamic and ecological models of sustainability.

We seek to examine and better understand cultural sustainability with intellectual rigor and ethical integrity, and to apply our findings to support individuals, communities, scholars, policymakers, and other stakeholders around the globe in their efforts to shape cultural futures on their own terms.

Key Research Questions

  1. What are the key factors impacting cultural sustainability, and how do they interact in theory and practice?
  2. How do we define cultural sustainability and how do we apply it in the context of the Center’s research and projects?
  3. What is the past, present, and potential impact of individuals, communities, and other stakeholders on cultural sustainability within their specific spheres of influence?
  4. How can we support individuals, communities, and other stakeholders to shape their cultural futures on their own terms?
  5. How do we measure the impact of interventions in cultural sustainability at practical and policy levels, and assess (perceptions of) their success?

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