From 8 March to 12 June 2021, the University of Silesia in Katowice held a seminar at its College of Individual Interdisciplinary Studies, where students explored industrial history as well as issues concerning cultural identity and the role of industrial monuments for tourism. Expertise was provided by co-host ERIH as part of its European Academy of Industrial Heritage, including hands-on professionals and guided tours of member sites.
The Katowice College of Individual Interdisciplinary Studies lets students individually design their curriculum. To do this, they choose one (or more) leading study programme, which can be expanded to include lectures from other programmes as desired. ERIH provided one of these lectures. Thus, the University of Silesia in Katowice gains access to attractive academic content. At the same time, the cooperation contributes to the objective of the "European Academy of Industrial Heritage" to encourage students to seek employment within the context of European industrial heritage and thereby generate well-trained staff for the maintenance and management of the industrial legacy.
The seminar included lectures by local and international experts as well as excursions to relevant industrial monuments. As a result, the students did not only focus on historical issues, monument preservation and conservation, but also on administrative and legal aspects as well as tourism related questions.
Prof. Edyta Sierka, director oft he College of Individual Interdisciplinary Studies in Katowice, outlines the university' s interest in the cooperation: "Being a university and a faculty where students acquire knowledge in very different fields of science, we would like young people to be aware of the region in which they live and what kind of heritage our ancestors have left us.“
The students mention a completely new perception of space that trains them to consider buildings and industrial plants from a new perspective. A further exciting aspect for them is the way the sites succeed in displaying plants and machinery exactly as they once operated and were used, for example, by miners as part of their everyday lives.
"We show that the Industrial Revolution changed the world we live in," concludes ERIH Vice-President Dr Adam Hajduga, who played a key role in the design and implementation of the cooperation programme. "I am sure that the course offered by the 'European Academy of Industrial Heritage' made the students very aware of this – both in theory and in practice."
ERIH project 'European Academy of Industrial Heritage' with video of the students' site visits