The Center’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage research in applied activities to support a comprehensive approach to the study of heritage. At the Center for Heritage Resource Studies, the concept of heritage focuses on the relationship between the uses of the past, local cultural expression, and the natural environment. This concept of heritage derives from the following:
- Local identity and “sense of place” are vital cultural components currently being threatened by transformations in the global economy.
- This “sense of place” may be defined by any combination of natural and cultural resources, often blurring the distinction between them.
- The recovery, interpretation, and celebration of the past are necessary for sustaining local identity and sense of place.
Thus, Center research and educational efforts are based on the following:
- The uses of and values associated with the natural environment are expressed in cultural terms, so efforts to conserve vital ecosystems are dependent upon understanding the cultural component of natural resource use.
- The sustainability of our cultural and environmental resources is dependent upon our understanding the ways in which heritage is expressed and used to promote economic development and political activity.
- Community-based tourism, focused on cultural and natural places, contributes to the survival of communities and locales that are threatened by transformations in the global economy.
- As a result, critical issues related to representation, diversity, and equity in the conservation of natural and cultural resources have emerged.
The Center for Heritage Resource Studies was established to bring scholars and practitioners together to support a comprehensive approach to the study of heritage. The Center’s research and educational efforts are formulated in a way that can be readily applied by those who are responsible for the management of our historic, cultural, and environmental resources. In this way, the activities of the Center contribute substantially to an increased awareness of the need for responsible heritage development.