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RWTH Welcomes New UNESCO Chair

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UNESCO and RWTH Aachen University have jointly established the UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage and Urbanism, to be headed by Professor Christa Reicher. 16 UNESCO Chairs in Germany are contributing to the implementation of the Global Sustainability Agenda.

“Around the world, more and more people are drawn to the cities,” says Professor Maria Böhmer, president of the German Commission for UNESCO. “Today, cities are as dynamic as they are complex, but they are faced with increasing challenges. Climate change, rural depopulation, resource management, and resilience are the big issues facing urban development today and in the future. At the same time, the question arises as to how evolved structures and the urban heritage can be preserved,” explains Böhmer. “I am delighted that Christa Reicher, a proven expert and excellent scientist, will be conducting research on these topics at the new UNESCO Chair in Aachen.”

The key research topics to be adressed by the Aachen UNESCO Chair will be urban design, building culture, and the preservation of urban heritage. Not only the built environment plays a major role in these contexts, but also issues of social interaction and the relationships between the city and the country. The chair focuses on different levels of analysis – from the neighborhood to the district, from the city to the region – to develop sustainable and inclusive future perspectives for urban spaces.

“In the national and international discourse on the further development of neighborhoods, cities, and regions, insufficient importance is attached to cultural heritage aspects. Questions of identity and future viability can only be answered taking into account the architectural and cultural origins of the location in question. By establishing the UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage and Urbanism, we want to take the expertise pooled at our department to a new level and expand the intercultural dialogue with institutions in the Global South,” says Professor Christa Reicher, head of the UNESCO Chair of Cultural Heritage and Urbanism.

According to Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, the rector of RWTH Aachen University, “the establishment of the UNESCO Chair proves that we at RWTH are doing justice to the enormous increase in importance that sustainability and resource management have experienced in a wide variety of areas. Professor Christa Reicher’s research will make a further contribution to the climate-friendly development of inner cities. The project is perfectly aligned with our commitment to make the best possible contribution to shaping science and society and preparing both for the future.”

Professor Christa Reicher, who has been awarded the UNESCO Chair, is also head of the Chair of Urban Design and of the Institute for Urban Design and European Urbanism at RWTH Aachen University. UNESCO Chairs promote collaboration between higher education and research institutions and societal actors in countries of the Global South, in Germany, and in Europe.

The UNESCO Chairs

In a global network, more than 900 UNESCO Chairs in more than 110 countries collaborate to integrate UNESCO’s goals in science and education. Currently there are 16 UNESCO chairs in Germany. They aim at advancing research, training, and program development in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence, promoting north-south and south-south cooperation and, more generally, intercultural dialogue. UNESCO Chairs worldwide contribute to creating, disseminating and applying knowledge to promote sustainable development.