The UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policies and Cooperation was created in the University of Girona based on its will to promote international cooperation according to the by-laws:
«Article 2. Principles. The University of Girona is inspired by the basic principles of liberty, justice and solidarity, and undertakes to promote equal opportunities and combat discrimination due to gender, class, race, religion or any other distinctive feature of individuals or communities. The University supports the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In line with these principles and the ideals of solidarity between peoples, the UdG will promote action in favor of social and cultural progress in developing countries».
On December 9 2000, the UNESCO and the University of Girona signed the agreement for the establishment of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policies and Cooperation, registered as an international initiative that expects to find relationships and complementarity with other cooperation actions of the University.
The city of Girona has shown its cultural role in different fronts and perspectives. This has transformed the city into a local action model for medium-size cities at the international level. For this reason, the subject area on territorial cultural policies is closely related with the reality of our context. The fact that there is no other chair specialized in these topics within the Spanish territory allows us to provide a line of thinking for the UniTwin program of Unesco, which broadens the possibilities for cooperation.
Contacts with different universities and cultural institutions at the international level allow us to have the necessary relational capital for this project. The UNESCO Chair expects to guide its actions towards the international presence of the UDG, as a meeting and exchange place for the role of cultural policies in a world of interdependence. The perspective of cooperation should allow us to work further on the north-south relationships and to find the contributions that the cultural world can offer to the contents of development cooperation or to the possibilities of cultural cooperation as a tool to recognize our cultural diversity.
The Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm 1998) recommends Member States that «cultural policies should be made one of the key components of development strategy and creativity and participation in cultural life should be promoted as an instrument of promotion for cultural diversity».
The approval of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005, and the increase of the cultural dimension in international relationships establish a new working context. Within this framework, the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policies and Cooperation of the University of Girona provides a space for meeting, research, cooperation and promotion of these proposals for action and favors an enhanced knowledge of the new tendencies and conceptualizations in the field of culture and development.
Description of project
The thematic area of the UNESCO Chair is closely related to a combination of historical and disciplinary circumstances that have allowed us to place theoretical reflection on the territorial cultural policies of Catalonia as an undeniable point of reference and a potential for transfer. The current reality and the processes performed by the Spanish State provide an interesting reflection on the role of cities and local policies in the field of culture. Our practice is the result of an experimentation that takes as a reference the decentralization processes which are adopted by many countries as an adaptation strategy to new social realities. Community policies adopt a very important role as a balancing factor for more globalizing tendencies. Its function as a development tool is proven in the new tendencies of the programs of the European Union, European Council, BID, etc.
The integration of the proposals made by the UNDP in their report on human development in 2004 on Cultural freedom and diversity have allowed the reflections on the relationship between culture and development to take a step further. The Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2005-2008 establishes a line of work in this direction, and represents a very important change in relation to its precedents on the handling of the cultural dimension in development cooperation. Subsequently, the Spanish Cooperation presents its Sectoral Strategy of Culture and Development where an innovative approach is established at an international level. In this context, the UNESCO Chair sees that their original approach and vision have become stronger. The growing interdependency between geopolitical realities, more specifically between north and south, calls for a very special attention on research into culture and its role in development actions. Cooperation becomes a very important platform for the knowledge regarding realities and has a very global vision. The need to defend, to know and to interact between cultures is a way to defend our world heritage and to understand cultural diversity as a tool in the service of peace, progress and the acceptance of interculturalism.
International cooperation and territorial cultural policies constitute a very important field of relationships, in the line of joint reflection between different geopolitical realities. We understand that international cultural cooperation becomes a practice of solidarity exchange in interdependency, and a common form of action, without differences, of the GPD, standard of living, income per capita, etc. A way to place two cultures, or more, with their similarities and contrasts, with the goal of promoting the value of equality and respect for diversity.
To accomplish these goals we must have an impact on the strengthening of human capital, where the acquisition of capacities becomes a development tool, beyond the approaches that regard development solely as economic growth. The training of cultural agents and operators is an essential strategy within the approaches of the chair. In this regard, training gains a great deal of importance as a tool for cooperation and transfer of practical and conceptual experiences in the field of cultural policies.
The UNESCO Chair sets out to promote reflection upon these fields of action by sharing conceptualizations and knowledge with other institutions. As a development strategy, sensitivity due to the social and territorial aspects of cultural action guides us to deal primarily with the relationship between culture and education, and more specifically with the possibilities to promote better coordination among their policies.
Thematic areas of reference:
The Chair is registered in the UniTwin Program of UNESCO, whose goals are to establish university networks at the international level through university solidarity and the analysis of the growing interdependence between north and south, as well as to defend the values, principles and conventions that UNESCO promotes at a multilateral level.
This cooperation is registered within a dynamic of development and defense of the cultural diversity. The actions of the UNESCO Chairs have wide-ranging topics. They are organized through local initiatives and deployed through vast university networks throughout the world. Its contents are not limited by the program and allow for specialization on timely topics in each moment and context. There are also the Network on cultural management, and the administration of NETCULT cultural institutes, within which our chair is integrated for a better coordination of the UniTwin program in the cultural sector.