Sustainable Development Through Heritage and Education: The New Peterborough Effect

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Hunt, Abigail ; Kershaw, Alice ; Access to Culture Platform (2013)
  • Publisher: Access to Culture Platform

This article argues that engagement with heritage by educational organisations is an effective tool in transforming the lives of young people and developing sustainable futures for England’s urban areas (UNESCO, 2011). \ud “The Peterborough Effect” was a slogan employed by the Peterborough Development Corporation in the 1970s and 1980s to promote one of the most successful New Town developments in post-war Britain and to encourage economic investment in the city from external businesses (Bendixson, 1988). Nearly 40 years later the Development Corporation has been superseded by Opportunity Peterborough, an urban regeneration company that recognises the role of heritage and education in the sustainable development of the city (Opportunity Peterborough, 2011). \ud Since 2009 Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough Regional College have worked in partnership to deliver a project initially funded by the Big Lottery which seeks to build the confidence and practical skills of “young people who are: de-motivated, vulnerable, disengaged or likely to disengage” (Peterborough Regional College, 2010, p unknown). In 2010 a group of young people successfully completed a dry stone walling course, and subsequent groups have engaged in similar activities including restoring a dry stone wall at John Clare’s Cottage, a regionally significant heritage site. The project has also grown to include a hedge laying course; a nearly extinct traditional rural skill in England. \ud This article is presented in three parts; the first part considers the wider academic, social, and political contexts within which this project was delivered. The second part of the article is an evaluative case study demonstrating how the heritage skills project impacted positively on the lives of young people from the city, and on the local historic environment. The final element consists of a reflective summary of the project by several of the young people that were part of the project in 2012. It is intended that this innovative approach offers three perspectives (that of the academic, the practioner, and the participant) on the role of heritage education projects in sustainable development.
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