Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - CULTURAL HERITAGE (Advanced Research Training on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage)

The underpinning principle of European patrimony is that our cultural heritage is an invaluable legacy and integral to our future: in recognition of the fragile and finite nature of our heritage, European policy has sought to identify the best, most sustainable means of conserving our cultural heritage. Protection and conservation of the European cultural heritage is an important problem affecting all Member States of the European Union. Increasing deterioration of materials (stone, brick, leather, paper, wood, paintings, metals etc.) is causing great concern throughout the European Union. Atmospheric pollution, urbanisation, tourism, groundwater fluctuations or inappropriate conservation treatments all play a role in deterioration. There is a need of understanding the causes, mechanisms and consequences of the damage through collaborative international research and to establish practices based on sound scientific and technological evidence.

CULTURAL HERITAGE likely represented the first multidisciplinary approach to the study of conservation of cultural assets and materials in the frame of the Marie Curie Actions (MCA). Although we recognise a MCA cannot cover the whole cultural heritage spectrum, this advanced research training on specific and inter-connected areas, which corresponds with the most innovative, in terms of research and application of novel instrumentation, served as the basis to provide state-of-the-art, early stage research training within an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary environment which includes archaeology, chemistry and material science, physics, geology and biology. The innovative aspects of this action were derived from the fact that the research training offered to young researchers was integral and put them in contact with the leading and most active teams using sophisticated and novel instrumentation for the diagnosis and study of deterioration and conservation problems in cultural heritage.

This represented a unique opportunity for young people seeking for a research training and a structured formation in an area demanding new professionals. This single host early stage training presented by the Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the most important multidisciplinary research organisation in Spain, offered a multidisciplinary and structured humanistic, scientific and technological training on CULTURAL HERITAGE. This laboratory-based research and training programme was the result of a long-standing collaboration among the host CSIC institutes. MCA was carried out in 9 inter-related CSIC institutes working together on this common research theme. The partners at the CSIC Institutes have both overlapping and complementary expertise. This was an action of 48 months in which 9 long-term (36 months) and 3 short-term (6 months) stages were offered. The long-term young researchers pursued a research career in a research group and participated in all activities, from experimental research work, to presentation of data at international conferences and publication in international SCI journals.

A parallel multidisciplinary educational activity on cultural heritage was obtained by attending the general modules of courses designed for this action and complementary courses available at the participating research institutes and universities. One month intensive Spanish language and culture course was also scheduled at the beginning of the training period. This training ended with the gaining of an internationally recognised doctor degree (EURO PHD) by the fellows, and the build-up of a research portfolio. The three short-term stages were offered to fellows seeking for a specialised training on selected topics.

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