It is a great pleasure and honor for us to present to you the first SoPHIA newsletter! We hope that you will find it interesting and useful to know more about cultural heritage and the role it plays in our everyday life.
To begin properly, let us introduce SoPHIA and our workplan. SoPHIA is about assessing in a holistic way the impact of projects based, focusing on, and involving cultural heritage. But why is impact assessment so important? Why today, in the midst of a global health crisis?
Assessment helps dealing in an affirmative way with uncertainty. While the relevance of cultural heritage – tangible and intangible alike – for the well-being of individuals and communities is generally acknowledged, policy makers, cultural managers and professionals need reliable tools to ascertain whether resources are used effectively and efficiently, and to give a full account of outputs, results and outcomes. Only a clear and holistic statement of benefits secured, and value produced through investments on cultural heritage justify the costs sustained.
To do so, and to monitor whether the desired or expected impacts of the CH interventions they fund are being achieved, EU policy-makers need shared standards and cross-domain assessment models. We, the SoPHIA consortium, are convinced that a full understanding and a proper assessment of interventions on cultural heritage is only possible if a holistic approach is adopted.
What do we mean by holistic, though? Holistic is intended as a comprehensive view on the different domains of impact: the economic, social, cultural, and environmental domains. Only by embracing all and each one if these dimensions, we will be able to grasp the different impacts generated by projects on cultural heritage. But there is more! First, a comprehensive impact assessment should also hold a longitudinal perspective, which enables the observation of the emerging, less obvious, and indirect impacts. Second, the impact assessment process should involve people who has a direct or an indirect stake in the initiative so that they actually own them, either as individuals or as a community.
As leading partner, we want to underline the great value of the SoPHIA consortium. Diversity is a key factor in our project: in fact, not only SoPHIA consortium merges different disciplines involved in the field of cultural heritage together; at the same time, being a social platform, it constantly engages stakeholders and Advisory Board members, to receive their valuable ideas and suggestions. This feature ensures a broader and inclusive perspective aiming at improving the quality of the interventions on cultural heritage and their impact on our everyday life.
For a higher education institution, this is a crucial aspect. As stated in the H2020 program, enhancements can only be achieved through a deal between the research world, the institutions, and civil society. As a university, we are committed to that, and such an approach convinced us of the need to overcome boundaries between disciplines. This is the reason why we responded enthusiastically to the H2020 call and we are happy to be part of such a rich and diverse team and the larger community of people we want to engage in SOPHIA’s platform. A strong and multifaceted synergy between academy and research organizations can provide further and innovative insights to policy decision makers.
We are committed to share as much as possible our efforts, our reflections, and our results. This newsletter is one of the means to disseminate and to invite discussion, feedbacks and contributions. We are eager to have you reading our newsletters, and hopefully sharing your feedback with us.
Enjoy your reading!
Roma Tre team