Thank you for speaking to us! Tell us about ESACH.
Thank you for inviting us! We are really grateful for the platform and support that Europeana offers to new and young professionals in the heritage sector. The European Students' Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) is a youth-led network of students and young professionals within cultural heritage based on the principles of interdisciplinarity and peer-to-peer learning. It was established in 2017, on the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, to highlight the perspective of the younger generations regarding cultural issues. Since then, ESACH has successfully established itself as a significant actor in the heritage landscape in Europe, in particular in the representation of young voices.
What can you tell us about your members?
As of February 2022, ESACH has 504 members from 49 countries. The majority of our members are students or PhDs, but we also have members who are recent graduates and young professionals. Our members are most active in the fields of heritage management (29%), architecture and urban planning (23%) and archaeology (7%). The majority of our members (76%) are women.
What projects are you currently focusing on?
2022 is looking like an exciting year for youth and cultural heritage! We are developing a number of projects, thanks to the collaboration with our wonderful partners. We are currently on the second edition of the European Heritage Youth Ambassadors Programme, in partnership with Europa Nostra and the European Heritage Tribune. The Europa Nostra / EN Internship Programme is also active, providing practical work experience to three to four young people per year. We are also looking forward to carrying out more activities to support our members in enhancing their employability, so stay posted for more news!
We are also focusing on a new round of ESACH Talks. These are interactive, fast-paced events that provide a platform for sharing knowledge among students and young professionals working within cultural heritage studies. This year the ESACH Talks will be focusing on the European Year of Youth and highlighting youth initiatives in heritage across Europe.
Finally, we will be releasing more editions of The ESACH Quarterly: a peer-reviewed magazine of international scope that provides Open Access space for the dissemination of different experiences and points of view regarding cultural heritage.
What role does digital technology, practises or engagement play in your work?
Digital technologies are essential to our work: as a remote network sustained by volunteers from a dozen different countries, we would not be able to exist without technologies such as social media and remote collaboration tools. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to go completely online, expanding our network far beyond what is physically accessible. At the same time, moving online has made activities more accessible and reduced costs, allowing us to do more with less resources and a larger impact.
Over the past two years, ESACH’s work on digital media has taken new importance and vitality. Our content development plan takes into account the main concerns of our network members to highlight the kind of information they want and need: internships, jobs, calls for papers, hands-on workshops, and opportunities for dialogue. We are always looking for fun new ways to connect with our network through a wide range of social media platforms.
What advice would you give someone just beginning their career in the cultural heritage sector?
There are a number of things that you can do! Stay informed and don’t be afraid of reaching out for mentoring opportunities. The world of cultural heritage is going through a resurgence, and with it come many opportunities for emerging professionals who are willing to tackle the task of researching opportunities, get through applications, and nurture relationships. Get out there and be active; volunteer and join heritage organisations. It’s the best way to keep abreast of the opportunities out there. And talk to your peers! Heritage is a new and developing field, and we have so much to learn from each other.
What advice would you give to a cultural heritage institution or organisation that would like to involve and support students and new professionals in their work?
Cultural heritage institutions should ‘take advantage’ of young voices and their fresh ideas. Internships, for example, can benefit both the organisation and the applicant, and be instrumental for young graduates wanting to build their careers and contributing to a long lasting change. It’s important to ensure that they are given responsibility to oversee a particular task even if in a minor project. This will not only give them hands-on experience in the sector but also hone their existing skills. Institutions could also structure dynamic traineeship programmes according to a trainee’s academic stage.
Institutions should be aware of the type of students they are giving opportunities to. Not a lot of low income students are able to volunteer to do unpaid internships, but if we work to include these voices, we will have a more diverse cultural heritage sector. Open your doors and make young people feel motivated and valued by creating paid internships, traineeships, research groups and scholarships.
Do you have any plans for the European Year of Youth?
Yes! We are currently working with our partners to finalise a plan for this year. One of our goals for this year is to ‘mainstream’ youth involvement as a key aspect of cultural heritage in all institutions, so we will be working with different partners to bring young voices to the forefront.
Since we truly believe in the positive impact of cultural heritage within society, another main goal is to empower young people to take ownership of their personal and cultural heritage and involve it in their personal and professional development.
How can a student or new professional get involved in ESACH?
You can join our international network today, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. Engage in the members group on Facebook, tag us on your projects, or send us a message asking for help spreading your message to a broader audience. You can also subscribe to our newsletter!
Registration for our first ESACH Talks of the year is now open, attendance is open to everyone. The following Talks will each feature four student/new professional presentations. We will launch a call for abstracts to select the speakers - if you have experience or ideas related to the theme we encourage you to apply. From undergraduates, to PhD students, to new professionals, we would love to hear from everyone.
And finally, you can also volunteer to join our Coordination Committee! Open calls are regularly published online, and the The ESACH Publications Team is currently looking for new Editors and Graphic Designers. Polish your CV and send relevant examples of your work at firstname.lastname@example.org!