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Jan Kolen Director of LDE Center for Global Heritage and Development

Archaeologist Professor Jan Kolen has been appointed Director of the LDE Center for Global Heritage and Development (CGHD) with effect from 1 July 2013. This new inter-university heritage center is due to start in the autumn of 2013 within the framework of the strategic alliance between Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam (LDE).

‘Infinite inspiration for identity formation’

Kolen will also be Professor of Landscape Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University. ‘The social and public importance of heritage has grown tremendously in the past few years,' he comments. 'Heritage plays a role in education and leisure, in the creative industry and in tourism, in urban renewal and in the sustainable development of landscape and nature. The past provides infinite inspiration for individuals and social groups everywhere in the world in forming their identity.'


Scientific and social applications of heritage

Kolen also stresses that heritage is a valuable source for academic research. For historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, it represents the first 'gateway' to understanding and reconstructing the past. Their research increasingly takes place in interdisciplinary research frameworks and encompasses the social applications of heritage. He explains, 'All the disciplines that can play a role in these developments can be found in Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. It would be hard to imagine a better setting than LDE for innovative research in this field.'

A new approach

The LDE Center for Global Heritage and Development aims to use its interdisciplinary and inter-university status to go beyond the more traditional study of heritage, by actively focusing on how heritage relates to cultural, social and environmental development. The primary focus will be on the role of the past in the present – with the future in mind. Heritage studies in the 21st century call for a new approach, a partnership between archaeology, social sciences, humanities and technical and natural sciences. 

Center for Global Heritage and Development

The three universities involved - Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam - have all the necessary expertise in house: from archaeological fieldwork in collaboration with local communities to new X-ray techniques for revealing hidden murals. The Center also collaborates with relevant social partners, recognising the importance of the role played by local communities in the field of heritage in our post-colonial world. The name Center for Global Heritage and Development reflects the international character of the heritage research and teaching that the center intends to develop, as well as its ambition to position itself as a global center of expertise.

About Jan Kolen

Professor Jan (J.C.A.) Kolen (1962) studied Archaeology at Leiden University. After graduating, he worked for the RAAP Foundation at the University of Amsterdam and the NWO Pioneer Project 'Changing view of Ice Age foragers' (Leiden University). In 2005, he obtained his PhD (cum laude) with his dissertation on the ‘Biography of the Landscape’, a new approach to landscape history. Since 2000 he has been affiliated to the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, initially as a lecturer, then as Belvedere Professor of Heritage of Town and Country, and since 2009 as Professor of the History and Heritage of European Cultural Landscapes. In addition, Jan Kolen is Director of the CLUE Interfaculty Research Institute (Heritage and History of the Cultural Landscape and Urban Environment).


In April 2012, the three Executive Boards of Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam published their joint strategic position statement ‘Added Value’, in which the three universities set out their plans for a strategic alliance. Eight multidisciplinary thematic research centers are to be established within the framework of the LDE. The Center for Global Heritage and Development is one of these centers.



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