The following lists are resources related to the study of built heritage and cultural landscapes from a social science perspective and, as such, address meanings related to heritage and heterodox conservation theory. (There are a broader array of resources germane to heritage studies than are listed here, but they do not necessarily focus on the built environment and/or landscapes, being more focused on moveable heritage objects, museum studies, and archaeology.)


Private firms

  • Coherit Associates, LLC: “COHERIT believes that heritage planning and local economic growth must follow a new pathway from values to shared experiences to deeper public support.”


Journals (refereed)

Post-secondary education

Disclaimer: In earlier versions of this web site, I listed just about any degree program that addressed heritage studies in some way without explicitly having a criteria to include, or not include, a particular program. I am now being much more rigorous in this list and will only list a program if it meets the following criteria:

  1. The curriculum addresses critical heritage studies theory (i.e., a social science approach to person-place relationships in the historic environment).
  2. One or more applied social science research methodologies (e.g., ethnography, grounded theory, survey research/statistics, participatory action research, photo elicitation) are specifically named, described, and taught in the curriculum.
  3. The built environment and/or cultural landscapes are a mandated or optional focus of the curriculum.

These criteria are based on the issues I’ve described elsewhere on this site in terms of how heterodox theory can be implemented in practice; one of the most important issues is that built heritage practitioners need to be trained in the use of social science research methodologies. While many programs have two of these criteria, very, very few fit all three, as far as I am aware. If you know of a program and can provide evidence for these three criteria, please let me know, below.

Related resources:

J. Wells. (2014). Social science research methodologies and historic preservation: Broadening the possibilities for a preservation thesis. In B. Stiefel and J. Wells (eds.), Preservation education: Sharing best practices and finding common ground. Hanover and London: University Press of New England.

Deakin University (Australia)

Degree program(s): Master of Cultural Heritage / Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies home page

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 1 (heritage studies theory):

AIM736 – Museums, Heritage and Society. The use of the past in the present has become a key debate within contemporary society. Contestations over representations of the past by/in museums, critiques of the power of heritage to legitimate particular word views, debates about multiculturalism and social inclusion, all bring concerns over social/communal identity to the fore. Through concepts such as text, representation, and performance, the unit aims to explore the history and contemporary nature of heritage practices and institutions showing how we can apply theoretical concerns to the understanding and management of museums and cultural heritage. It introduces key definitions and ideas, many of which are explored in more detail in other units of the program. Central is the concept that ‘cultural heritage’ may apply to objects, places and traditions, whether managed by museums, national parks, urban planning schemes, tourism attractions or a host of other environments.

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 2 (social science research methods):

AIX706 – Research Design. Research Design offers students research training. It guides students on how to specify a question or problem that is important and requires research to resolve or address. It also guides students on various ways to review other researchers’ work and conclude on why further research is needed. Students are introduced to the importance of an appropriate method for gathering relevant data, and then interpreting the data according to an appropriate methodology. Students apply this training to design a research proposal within their own area of study.

Evidence of coursework for criterion 3 (primary focus is on the built environment and/or cultural landscapes):

AIM714 – Cultural Landscapes. This unit will familiarise students with the concept of cultural landscapes which is a key framework for heritage assessment and management. The unit will develop student skills in identifying a cultural landscape, their heritage features, assessing their cultural significance and building management plans that reconcile and conserve the diverse heritage values found in cultural landscapes. The unit will also provide students with a sound theoretical understanding of the history of the concept of a cultural landscape and how this informs current approaches to identifying and recording cultural and natural values. Through a series of case studies from Australia and the Asia Pacific region, students will gain an understanding of culturally diverse approaches to managing landscapes and the ways in which socio-cultural issues affect their conservation.

Michigan Tech (Michigan, USA)

Degree program(s): PhD in Industrial Heritage and Archeology

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 1 (heritage studies theory):

SS 5400 – Sociology of the Environment. Provides students with an introduction to basic sociological concepts as they apply human relationships to the environment. Topics include social values, organizations, norms, ideologies, and political systems. Themes will include the relationship of expertise to lay knowledge, public participation, and urban-rural relationships.

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 2 (social science research methods):

SS 5001 – Advanced Social Science Methods. Introduction to quantitative and mixed methods research in the social sciences. Topics include: survey design, sampling frames, data collection and analysis, error estimation, and the application of statistical methods. Literature will highlight the use and misuse of advanced methods.

Evidence of coursework for criterion 3 (primary focus is on the built environment and/or cultural landscapes):

SS 5800 – Documentation of Historic Structures. Principles and practice of survey and documentation of historic structures. Techniques include reconnaissance survey, in-depth survey, measured drawings, architectural photography, primary research, and written descriptions. Students use survey and documentation to analyze historic structures.

Plymouth State University (New Hampshire, USA)

Degree program(s): MEd in Heritage Studies

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 1 (heritage studies theory):

HS 5100 – Heritage Studies Foundations. Heritage Studies Foundations is designed for those interested in bringing heritage studies to areas such as schools, museums, and historical societies. Relevant concepts and techniques used in history, geography, English, anthropology, and sociology will be presented so participants may create models for class exercises, build museum exhibits, and incorporate heritage studies methodology into their work. Participants will learn methods of social science interpretation and inference about historical events, structures, artifacts, settlement patterns, and various ideologies of the past. Multi-disciplinary techniques will be used in interpretations of nearby history and in the development of materials that may be used in educating the general public and students in the classroom. Download syllabus

Evidence of required/available coursework for criterion 2 (social science research methods):

ED 5030 – Research Design. Knowledge and understanding of the commonly accepted research designs. Study of research instruments and statistics used in educational research. Wide reading in various types of research design. Critical analysis of research design. Download syllabus

Evidence of coursework for criterion 3 (primary focus is on the built environment and/or cultural landscapes):

HI 5330 – New Hampshire and New England Historic Sites. This purpose of this course is twofold: to introduce students to a variety of locations and historic sites throughout New England; and to allow students to analyze the historical significance of each site and use the knowledge gained to produce papers and projects useful to the student’s career while furthering their research and writing skills. Many historical sites are within easy travel distance and convey the nature of change since the earliest settlement in the region. This will allow students the opportunity to explore and interpret the layered historical landscape. Download syllabus

Please contact me with any items that you would like added or that may need to be changed: