UNESCO Chair at Srishti


About

UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development in India was established at Srishti in 2014. This recognition is nominated by the Government of India at the national level and evaluated and granted by the UNESCO General Assembly at the international level. The Chair recognizes the work of the UNESCO Chair holder and the institution in contributing to UNESCO’s mission and goals as well as provides a platform for furthering work in its focus area. It provides an opportunity to engage in policies and strategies at the state, national, and international levels, and to build national and international networks and partnerships with other UNESCO Chairs and educational institutions in related fields across the world. This UNESCO Chair is established in cooperation with UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention.
Dr. Geetha Narayanan holds the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development at Srishti. Earlier this position was held by Dr. Jyoti Hosagrahar until 2016, and she will be on leave from the institution for next two years.


Vision

The UNESCO Chair at Srishti, an institutional initiative, is established with the vision of deepening the relevance of cultural heritage, natural environments, and their relationships with human habitation. The immediate activities are focused towards identifying and strengthening the interconnections between the tangible and the intangible, as well as between the creative practices in towns and human habitats, in and around heritage sites. Through such a comprehensive understanding, the Chair intends to conceive and engage with innovative, inclusive and sustainable design strategies to protect cultural and environmental heritage in today’s urban landscapes.
The larger outcomes of such initiatives would be to contribute to policy making in relevant areas, adaption of regional assets, enhancement of creative practices, expert training systems and socio-economic development in the identified local groups.



Book cover from the Kalagram Project facilitated by Srishti faculty members under the mandate of the chair; and based on the research and documentation work carried out in Hoysala region

Initiatives

Over the last two years, the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development at Srishti has worked on a wide-range of activities in the domains of heritage and sustainability. Some of the noteworthy contributions are: 

  • Conducted and curated studio projects in the areas of heritage interpretation and urban design for the undergraduate programs at Srishti. Some places of inquiry where such academic exercises have been explored are Hoysala, Belur, Bidar, Kutch, Vadodara, and Bangalore amongst others.

  • Establishment of first of its kind, post-graduate programs under School of Law, Environment & Planning (SLEP) at Srishti, and recognised by the Mysore University
  • Srishti – BMSCE Architecture Collaborative February 2017 was the first pursuit intended to facilitate peer-to-peer exchange in an interdisciplinary and academic environment. About 30 students from both institutions came together to share their design research, work in collaboration to further their insights, and initiate a dialogue broadly based under the larger theme of 'studying places'. The session was facilitated by Professor Neelkanth Chhaya along with faculty members from both partnering institutions.
  • Srishti Postgraduate Interlude & Student Conference 2016: “Smart Cities, Big Data, The Internet of Things and Digital Rights” [28th November – 21st December, 2016]
    • Precursor address to conference was delivered by Prof. A G K Menon; this talk was organised in collaboration with ICOMOS India
    • Over 24 Days, 75 Students (25 Teams) were guided by over 20 experts and 21 Srishti facilitators. The final conference was a culmination of a wide-range of student responses, which were exhibited and addressed by 20 panel members from the industry, academics and other practices.
    • For more information, visit: https://srishtipginterlude.wordpress.com/
  • PhD Studies (on-going)
    • Towards creating a sustainable community by reinforcing the relationship between crafts-based economy and urban conservation, by Niyati Jigyasu
    • The study of tangible and intangible heritage in context of socialism and infrastructure: the Ahmedabad case, by Harsh Shah
    • Interpreting architecture in Bangalore with the lens of technology and material: The appropriation of the local into formal processes, by Priya Joseph
    • Architecture and Structuring of Identity in ‘postcolonial’ Goa, by Vishvesh Kandolkar
    • For more information, visit: http://srishti.ac.in/programs/phd-program-in-art-and-design
  • Reports & Documentation
    • United Cities and Local Governments, Culture 21 for Agenda 21 on Culture and Sustainable Cities
    • World Heritage Convention Operational Guidelines for the UNESCO World Heritage Center
    • UNESCO Global Report on Culture and Sustainable Urban Development, 2015

  • ICOMOS CONFERENCE 2016 : “Conserving Living Urban Heritage: Theoretical Considerations of Continuity and Change” [26th and 28th November, 2015]
    • Organised by the UNESCO Chair for Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development , at Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bangalore,
    • Co-convened by International Scientific Committee for Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration ICOMOS (ISC Theophil), the International Scientific Committee for Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH). ICOMOS India, and SUI, Bangalore. 
    • For more information, visit: http://icomos2015.sustainurban.org/
  • Teaching and Public Lectures: UNESCO chair holders have been constantly sharing their expertise and experiences with diverse audiences within India and abroad, through different interactive models.


Collaborations

The above mentioned initiatives by the chair have led to exchanges with a variety of academic and professional organisations. Some of these roles or alliances are:

  • Expert Member, Advisory Committee for World Heritage Matters under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India
  • Expert Member, Karnataka Tourism Vision Group chaired by the Honorable Minister for Tourism, Information, and Broadcasting
  • Expert Member, Advisory Committee for preparation of the Site Management Plan for Hampi, Government of Karnataka
  • Scientific Board member, International Scientific Committee for Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration, ICOMOS
  • ICOMOS India
  • Sustainable Urbanism International


Chair Holders

2016- 2018: Dr. Geetha Narayanan

Geetha is an educator with over four decades of experience as a teacher, an educator, a curriculum and instruction designer. At all times a catalyst Dr. Narayanan has dedicated her life to finding and establishing new models of educational institutions with a vision of learning rather than learning. Her educational models are creative, synergetic and are beyond dualities of art-science, mind-body or even east-west and have a holistic approach towards learning. She has been and believes in being a curator of creativity rather than a leader. Dr Narayanan is currently Founder Director of Srishti Institute of Art Design & Technology; Principal Investigator of Project Vision, a Director’s Fellow at the Media Lab, MIT, USA and a visiting faculty at the Future of Learning Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education USA.

2014- 2016: Dr. Jyoti Hosagrahar

Prior to joining UNESCO, Dr. Hosagrahar was a professor and Director of the SUI Lab at GSAPP, Columbia University, New York; UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development at Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore, India where she was also Chair of the Ph.D. program; and Founder-Director of Sustainable Urbanism International (SUI), an NGO in Bangalore, India. Architect, planner, and cultural historian, she has been engaged with planning, design, and policies on urban development, urban conservation and heritage management, and sustainability issues. For a number of years she was an expert for UNESCO on historic cities, culture and development, and urban sustainability. She is an expert for the UN Habitat III Policy Unit on Socio Cultural Urban Framework, and has headed the ICOMOS Task Force on Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development. With SUI, she has developed a range of design solutions and strategies that integrate culture and cultural heritage into urban design and development as well as conceived and organized a series of international conferences to investigate the relationship of cultural heritage for sustainable urban futures.

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