Living heritage : Universities as anchor institutions in sustainable communities
The term ‘heritage’ has many meanings across the English-speaking world, but what is not in doubt is the importance of history as a living tradition. As a channel that connects people imaginatively, often emotionally, with the past, history can foster relationships of belonging and identity; it can contribute to community-building, economic prosperity and cultural adaptation. It is in this context that we refer to ‘heritage’ and explore its capacity to orientate people in specific places and embed them in a flow of time. For some communities, the act of reclaiming forgotten or marginalised histories can be a powerful affirmation of presence. Remembering industrial pasts is one response to their loss; where social fragmentation runs along lines of cultural difference, shared histories have the potential to make connections through empathy. Far more than a form of preservation, heritage or living history has the potential to inform policy, placeshaping and academic theory and practice. In discussing universities as anchor institutions in sustainable communities, we explore the physical place-shaping aspects of heritage with reference to a particular case study in the new town of Hatfield, north of London, in the United Kingdom.