Call for application for the UNESCO Foundation Training in Trinidad and Tobago for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Caribbean

The call for application is opened from 23 March to 15 May 2023, at 23:59 Havana (Cuba) time.
Course: 11-30 June 2023 in Rockley Bay, Tobago


Being the biggest “museums” yet to be fully discovered by the public, the waters of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers guard in their depth broad records of the history of humankind and the traces of its interaction with the aquatic environment. In the Caribbean, these “footprints of human existence” span from ancient vestiges of Pre-Colombian watercrafts and ritual objects to European trade shipwrecks, and embrace the first colonial settlements in the region, such as those of Port Royal (Jamaica). Alongside these remains, these waters safely watch aircraft wrecks, submerged landscapes and prehistoric settlements, underwater caves with signs of human habitation, as well as scattered findings such as lost or abandoned objects.

In the framework of UNESCO´s 2022/2023 Programme and Budget (41C/5), and in compliance with the Culture Sector OUTPUT 5.CLT2 “Member States’ capacities strengthened to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural property and promote its return and restitution, to protect underwater cultural heritage and to promote the role of museums for societies” the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean (Havana, Cuba), the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean (Kingston, Jamaica) and the UNESCO National Office (Port-au-Prince, Haiti) are organizing the UNESCO Foundation Training in Trinidad and Tobago for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Caribbean from 11- 30 June 2023 in the location of Rockley Bay in Tobago.

This initiative, which aims at protecting underwater cultural heritage and promoting its relevance within 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, has received the financial and technical support from the International Programme for Maritime Heritage of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands / Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) – an executive body of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) – is the Netherlands’ centre of expertise for tangible heritage.

It is recognized that one of the main challenges for the protection of underwater cultural heritage lies in providing knowledge and adequate capacities for its study, conservation, and management. This practical and theory capacity building activity will be a three-week residential course, focussing on the practical side of underwater archaeology and cultural heritage management in the Caribbean.

The training will consist of underwater cultural heritage management, significance assessment, museology aspects, public engagement and underwater research. The students will follow theoretical classes, complete written assignments, participate in practical dive work, attend cultural and heritage excursions and also be part of a role-play exercise in heritage management. A Dutch underwater wreck-site will be the subject of the research.

The forecasted capacity-building course will capitalize those activities that UNESCO developed in the past also co-financed by the Netherlands RCE with the purpose of providing technical assistance to strengthen the implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean such as the adaptation to Latin America and the Caribbean of the UNESCO Foundation Course Manual both in English and Spanish, as well as the online UNESCO training course on the Training Manual for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean. This activity also meets countries’ needs regarding archaeological scientific and practical research, education on underwater cultural heritage, network-building among experts and underwater archaeologists, experience exchange between countries, whose identification emerged during several regional and national conferences and meetings.

The eligible candidates from the insular Caribbean will be students in archaeology or already qualified, working in archaeology or heritage management. The course language will be English; therefore, the students should be proficient in conversation and writing. For the practical session, participants should be qualified divers with at least 30 dives.

Deadline of the call and how to forward an application

The call for application will be opened from 23 March to 15 May 2023, at 23:59 Havana (Cuba) time

Applications containing all required documentation, as detailed in paragraph “Required documents to apply”, must be sent to one of the following email addresses according with the country in which the applicant is currently attending his/her studies or developing his/her academic activities.

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