Understanding Cultures


Following on the WUN umbrella theme of sustainable development, the research agenda of the WUN Understanding Cultures Global Challenge is focused on decolonization as an overarching theme of sustainable development.  Without recognizing the issues of continuing racial, economic and structural inequities that are inherent in the colonizing history of the world, it is impossible to move forward in the research areas of the Understanding Cultures group.  

As is illustrated in the word cloud below, research work to date by the Group has had a primary focus on migration, mobility and displacement in all of its various aspects.  Moving forward, the group continues to recognize the critical focus on migration in achieving sustainable recovery, particularly in Goals 10 - Reduced Inequalities, 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities, 14 - Life Below Water, 15 - Life on Land, and 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.  In addition, with the development of the UNESCO World Heritage Framework on Climate Change and ICOMOS’ dual emphasis on heritage and its intersection with climate change and the SDGs, two additional foci are particularly relevant at this time: that of the role of indigenous knowledge, leadership and ways of knowing the world; and the importance of intangible heritage in understanding cultures and their ways of being. Deeper understanding of these aspects of cultural change is necessary to inform effective policy-making and implementation. 

Research in the Understanding Cultures Global Challenge has to date focused on the following ideas:

Steering Group

The Understanding Cultures Global Challenge Steering Group is made up of experts in the field from across the WUN network. The Steering Group is responsible for guiding the development, focus and research portfolio of the global challenge in consultation with the member faculties of the WUN institutions.  

Global Challenge Chair: Professor Elizabeth Brabec, The University of Massachusetts Amherst, Vice Chair: Professor Stuart Taberner, University of Leeds. 

For more information, contact: TBC, Email