The diversity of modern societies can lead to misunderstandings and conflict based on cultural differences. Cultural divides are often enhanced by the local or national media through the creation of stereotypes and rumors about certain communities in a city.

Cultural activities, on the other hand, can provide an open environment for meeting others and discussing complex issues around cultural difference and conflict.  In this perspective, cultural heritage can have an important role for community cohesion and cross-community conflict resolution in a creative and reflective environment.

Furthermore urban heritage is the expression of a city’s identity. Different to national identities, urban identities can be inclusive to everyone living in a city, across national borders or citizenships. An intercultural approach to its heritage sector allows a city to actively open up the urban identity to all communities, increasing trust, mutual recognition and eventually community cohesion through an identity inclusive to all.

STEPS is a EU-CoE Joint pilot project which aims at building and strengthening community cohesion, promoting trust, dialogue and mutual understanding across diverse societies, through the participatory heritage-based action plans.

Building on the experience and achievements of the CoE and the cities of the ICC Network in the field of cultural heritage, as well as culturally diverse societies, STEPS will develop and test a methodological framework for the use of heritage at the local level. This methodological framework will be validated through an evidence-based research process which will propose indicators to measure impact of participatory approaches to cultural heritage as a resource for community development and cohesion.

The project will involve three main steps:

  • Heritage-Mapping and need assessment in relation to community cohesion
  • Network mobilisation, training and heritage-based strategic planning
  • Developing of perception change indicators and monitoring of results through an initial and final survey